The US dollar is enjoying record strength against many of the world’s currencies, including those that are legal tender in the top travel destinations on Earth. The strong dollar means that things just got a whole lot cheaper for American travelers who are headed abroad. Here’s a couple of countries where your hard-earned dollars have become significantly more valuable in recent years.
If America had a doppelganger, it would undoubtedly be Canada. The Great White North’s currency, the Canadian dollar, enjoyed many years of parity with the US dollar. At some points, a Canadian dollar was worth even more than the US dollar. Today, one Canadian dollar is only worth 70 cents in US dollars. That means Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are a lot cheaper for Americans than they were when the two currencies were equal. Canada is stunningly beautiful, and it’s so culturally and linguistically similar to America that you might be confused for a Canadian (unless of course you’re in a French-speaking region). Now that Canada is more affordable, you’ll struggle to come up with an excuse not to visit the land of Mounties and exotically pronounced vowels.
America’s go-to for a tropical getaway is Mexico, and it’s gotten a heck a lot cheaper with the surging dollar. For over a decade, the Mexican peso exchange rate was generally 10 pesos for 1 US dollar, which made for very easy math when traveling to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, or Cabo San Lucas. Then during the recession, it started to wander away from that historical average. Over the past five years, it has radically weakened to the point that’s nearly half as strong as the old exchange at just under 19 pesos per dollar. Despite the violence in the headlines in recent years, the tourist areas remain safe and are just as spectacular as ever.
Brazil’s economy is in big trouble, which has put a lot of pressure on their currency, the real. Coupled with a historically strong dollar, the real has been dropping like a stone, all the way from less than 2 per dollar to more than 4 per dollar today. With exchange rates that low, there’s no doubt that Brazil is a bargain.
The 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro this summer, so many Americans are already planning on heading down to Brazil. If you’re visiting from June 1st to September 18th of this year, Brazilian authorities are waiving their visa requirement, which will save you a headache and 160 dollars. If you want to combine your Brazilian trip with other South American countries, Argentina and Colombia are also very cheap destinations at this moment.
Much of the old continent uses the euro, which has also come tumbling down recently. Two years ago, the euro was trading at almost 1.4 dollars per euro. Right now, the euro is still stronger than the dollar, but a lot closer to parity, and is consistently hovering below 1.10. Euro users are a diverse club of countries that have very little in common with each other besides occupying the same continent. That means travel to wide range of places from Southern Portugal to the coast of Estonia have become that much more affordable for Americans.
Some analysts think the euro might be headed a lot lower, to way below one dollar. So whether you’re a religious pilgrim headed to the Vatican, or plan on dancing your tush off at a music festival in the Netherlands, it’s historically a great time to get your fill of Europe.
For those of you who have dreamed of seeing Africa, the struggling South African rand can be of assistance. The currency declined seven percent in the span of just a few days last month when the currency hit an all-time low against the dollar. Right now, the currency is trading at half the amount that it fetched just five years ago. That translates into opportunities for American travelers to see all of the phenomenal things South Africa has to offer at a deep discount. Word on the street is that the best restaurants in Cape Town are as good as any in the U.S., but only cost a third as much.
The strong dollar is expected to stay around for a while, but it’s not going to last forever. A powerful greenback is bad for our economy in many ways, and those effects may eventually send our currency back down from the stratosphere. In the meantime, seize the opportunity to explore the world outside of the United States. You’ll come to regret the opportunities you’ve missed when the trip of your dreams ends up becoming completely unaffordable.
Photo by amelungc
David is the Editor of Bold. He's especially passionate about millennial economic empowerment. A former local news reporter, David is originally from the Little Havana area in Miami, and later became a pioneer resident of the Disney-inspired town of Celebration, Florida. David holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.