As I’ve mentioned before, if you’re American you’re crazy to stay home this year. This currently strong U.S. dollar is an aligning of the stars that only happens every decade or two.
There are two ways you can play this great gift from the gods as a traveler. 1) Go where the cheap places have gotten even cheaper and feel rich or… 2) Go somewhere that’s normally a stretch since it now is within your budget. For the second option, you’d be kind of loony to skip Canada. They’re right next door and prices are much more reasonable than they’ve historically been because of the exchange rate. There’s another bonus coming in 2017 that I’ll get to in a moment.
Back when George W. Bush was ending his reign and the economic mess in the USA was at its worst, the Canadian dollar passed par and at one point a greenback only got you 90 Canadian cents. Now the rate is bouncing between 1.25 CAD to the dollar to 1.40.
Hotels that were $300 at the end of last decade are now going for closer to $200 and you can take this difference down the line to hostels, restaurant meals, taxis, trains, and admission fees. Since flights have gotten less expensive lately too thanks to lower fuel costs and higher capacity, it’s also cheaper than a few years ago to fly to Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal.
Or you could just drive. Most of what you’re probably going to go see and do in Canada is just a few hours from the U.S. border. Or in the case of the far eastern provinces, a ferry ride. In the northwest, you can take a train. Prices used to be higher as soon as you crossed the border thanks to higher taxes and labor costs, but now they’re pretty much on par or less. Plus as with most metropolitan areas, you’ll find plenty of things to do that don’t cost a lot. Check out Vancouver’s free or close to it list as an example.
Visit the National Parks in 2017
If you can’t make it north this summer, plan to do it next year. It turns out that 2017 is the 150th anniversary of the founding of a united Canada and to celebrate they’ve dropped the admission price in all the national parks. They’ve dropped admission to everyone’s favorite price: free!
This means you can visit the world’s oldest national park system without laying out any money to get in. That’s not all either. They’re also waving the lock charges on the extensive canal systems located in several provinces. So if you’re in a boat or doing a long kayaking trip, you can traverse the canals without extra fees.
You’ll still have to pay for camping, mooring, etc. and they’re not going to let you crash in a cabin for nothing, but if you wanted to explore some of North America’s best-preserved wild areas at some point, make that “someday” next year. See more info at the Parks Canada site.