Learn Some Spanish, Travel Better with Dollars

Peru travel dollarI sound like a broken record with my media quotes and articles on this subject, but I’m saying it again in this latest Tripso column: if you want to go where your travel dollars still buy a lot, head to Latin America.

Much of Asia is still a bargain too, of course, but if you’re on vacation instead of a long-term journey, that involves some very long flights and some wicked jet lag. Plus the picture there has gotten a bit muddier this year. The Thai baht is way up against the dollar, as is the Indian rupee. Both places are still a great value, just not quite as great as they were before.

Through the large swath of land running from Mexico down to the tip of South America though, the only place where the dollar has really declined significantly is Brazil, which was never a screaming bargain anyway. In Belize and all the Spanish-speaking countries, the greenback is pretty much where it was four or five years ago. In some places, like Argentina, the dollar is worth more than it was when our current bumbling president came into office. (Maybe our next elected president will be a woman–it looks inevitable in macho Argentina.)

The other three destinations I highlighted in the Tripso article are Peru, Panama, and Colonial Mexico. In Panama they actually use the U.S. dollar, so no worries there of ever seeing a currency decline. (They do in Ecuador too, by the way). I was writing that article for a general tourist audience though, so note that the highlighted places are some of the best deals for people on a vacation budget, not necessarily for backpackers who are willing to travel rougher. If you’re on a longer jaunt on a smaller budget, head to the places in my book, The World’s Cheapest Destinations.

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  1. Mike

    I’m actually just starting a Spanish course so I can go to South America this Winter. What guidebooks do you suggest for Chile-Argentina-Brazil?

  2. james

    Hey Tim – even in Mexico if you stray away from the beaches and head inland you can live very cheap and see life, people, and culture you’d never find on the coasts. A little Spanish helps, but it’s amazing how much of the country is cheap and people never even venture into it…

    All the best – james…

  3. spanishtourist

    I can agree with that… I visited 2 different border towns in Mexico multiple times before driving to the Baja Pen. It was a great drive and we actually found a few places that weren’t bad at all ( ie – NO Policia / Scammers)

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