If You’re American, You’re Crazy to Stay Home This Year

U.S. dollar for travelers

You could go to Canada for less eh?

If you’re earning U.S. dollars and you don’t have a big vacation or journey or a move abroad in your plans this year, what’s wrong with you?

If you’re reading a travel blog I’m assuming you don’t hate traveling. So why else would you not take advantage of this golden opportunity?

Your Travel Dollar is at a Premium Right Now

This Cheapest Destinations Blog is one of the oldest budget travel blogs out there. It launched in 2003, before a few thousand others followed, before there was a market for multiple travel blogger conferences on three continents. The cool thing about that is I have a library of around 1,500 posts to dive into. Some are dated. Some are now irrelevant. But some are great to get a sense of where we are now compared to a decade ago.

A shade more than 11 years ago I wrote this post: Flush Goes the Dollar.

As you may have guessed, it’s all about how weak our native currency was then and what we could do to compensate. This excerpt kind of says it all:

We’re looking at a record low against the euro and a five-year low against the yen. Europe and Japan, already expensive destinations for Americans, are now priced like luxury goods. In popular London, it now takes almost two US dollars to buy one British pound. The Euro is nudging $1.50 at exchange booths in Paris and Rome. What’s not so simple to see is that the problem is spreading to unrelated areas of the globe. For US travelers, hotels and meals are much higher than they were just a few months ago in diverse places such as Australia, Canada, and Fiji. Some of my World’s Cheapest Destinations have gotten noticeably less cheap: Morocco, Hungary, and the Czech Republic are the worst extremes.

Wow, how times have changed! The euro is at around $1.10 and could drop to parity at some point if Europe doesn’t break out of its funk. The pound sterling is at 1.4.

On the cheap country side, that Hungarian forint I was talking about that was at 190 to the greenback at the end of 2004 is now at 270. That’s a lot more sausage and goulash!

Back then you got 9,000 Indonesian rupiah for a buck. Today it’s more like 13,400.

Cheaper Flight + Dropping Local Prices = Bliss

Those examples above aren’t even the most dramatic ones. Check this chart on where I just flew a few weeks ago for $386 round trip—Mexico!

Mexico exchange rate travelers

I actually bought a little beach house in Mexico in 2004 and soon after we did the rate dropped down to around 10 to the dollar, as you can see above. Now it’s poking at 19, just as more air competition is opening up and lower fuel prices are easing flight prices a bit. If you don’t want to go far, head to interior Mexico and enjoy one of the world’s best values.

You know where else you can fly for relatively cheaply? Nicaragua, where you will find some of the best traveler prices in all of the Americas. Check out this crazy chart!

Nicaragua prices

Traveler prices in Nicaragua are even lower than when I wrote this post from 2012. And they were really cheap then.

It’s usually inexpensive to get to Colombia too, since it’s the home of Avianca and has multiple cities served by Spirit and Jet Blue. Sometimes you’ll see flights to Medellin or Cartagena for less than $250. The dollar is at a record high there as well.

There are a few places in the world you won’t get a currency bump right now: Switzerland, for example, and countries that use or are pegged to the dollar (Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador). Nearly everywhere else you’ll be better off than you were a few years ago or…more than a decade ago.

Don’t waste this incredible opportunity—take off!

  1. Stephen

    You had me worried for a second – I think you forgot a zero on the Rupiah exchange rate!

  2. Gary

    Hi Tim,

    The wife and I are writing from Sisal in Yucatan. We are renting a mansion here for USD 70 a day with incredible seafood at 15 bucks a head with
    cervezas and Havana Club anjeo thrown in for good measure. Thanks for your Merida tips, too. And we went to the hacienda you featured as well! Salud!


  3. Farhan

    Thanks for a great post. With falling oil prices (although it has not made much impact on airfare) – we are saving extra cash on bunch of stuff besides cheaper gas. I agree with you this is the best time to travel. I have been planning to visit Europe for quite a time and I will be visiting this July

    • Tim Leffel

      Airfares are starting to drop now too. Just got tickets to Mexico City for $300 round trip and am seeing lots of routes to Europe and South America cheaper than they have been for years.

  4. Bogota Medellin

    Pack your bags and leave

  5. Emily

    This doesn’t even mention the cheap gas prices. If you don’t want to get on a plane, it’s much less expensive to take a U.S. road trip or to drive to Canada and Mexico. Fuel is still much more expensive in Europe than here, but compared to a few years ago it’s downright reasonable and car rentals there have gone down along with flight and train prices.

  6. u4fifa

    you have a good sense of humor.

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