Every few years I put out a new edition of The World’s Cheapest Destinations book. Number three came out in 2009 and for the most part is still pretty accurate in terms of prices, but I’m looking at making some roster changes for edition number four in 2012.
I was hesitant to include Turkey in this last edition because both the exchange rate and prices had gotten steadily worse. But then their currency took a dive in 2008 and half that equation got better. I’m going to have to drop the country this time though for sure. As Lara Dunston noted in this great GranTourismo post on grocery prices where they stayed over the course of a year, “We were astounded at how expensive Istanbul has become.”
What will replace it in Europe? Probably Poland—it depends on what I find out in the course of first-person research. For Krakow, Lara said, “We never expected it would turn out to be the cheapest destination on our trip.”
Leaving Out Morocco
Morocco is still a terrific value for the mid-range traveler on vacation, especially if you’re booking a package tour from Europe that includes airfare. For long-term travelers on a budget however, especially backpackers, it’s no longer the great deal it was five or ten years ago. It has simply gotten too popular with Europeans, who have flooded the main tourist cities and driven up prices—which are now often quoted in euros.
What will replace it? Probably Syria, but again I need to get some feet on the ground for price checks and see if the former trickle of western visitors has gotten any larger.
Iffy Cheap Destinations
A few countries I’ve highlighted have gotten more iffy, but the main one I’m keeping an eye on is Argentina. Inflation has been quite bad there due to some inept government policies. Plus their decision to slap a reciprocal visa fee onto visitors arriving by air means a couple could pay more than $262 extra before they even step out of the airport. (Related post: Argentina says screw you to foreign visitors.)
I was a little worried about Hungary, but prices seem to be staying in check there due to economic problems there and in Europe in general. Thailand has gotten more expensive as the baht has risen in value, but it’s still a great deal, especially come lunch time.
What have you found in your travels? Any surprises to the upside or downside with your travel budget?