2016 has been a stellar year for American travelers. Thanks to an improved economy and shrinking trade gap, the dollar is the strongest it has been since 2003. And with a weakened Euro and the post-Brexit UK, traveling to Europe is that much more affordable. But Europe isn’t the only place that will take you far with a US dollar. Here are must-visit destinations for getting the best bang for your buck – literally.
1 USD = approx. 1.35 CAD
The Great White North is more than a destination for dogsledding, ice fishing, and polar bear safaris. Canada offers a plethora of year-round activities and thousands of miles of stunning natural beauty – such as the aquamarine waters in Banff National Park, alpine forests in Algonquin National Park, and the glaciers in Nunavut’s Arctic Circle. But let’s not forget about the thriving, multicultural cities of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. From internationally acclaimed restaurants and chic bars to fine art galleries and history museums, Canada has it all. Plus, flights average $378 round-trip – down 15 percent since 2014.
1 USD = approx. 3152.51 COP
Colombia, with its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and vibrant cultural history, has always been an alluring destination for travelers. Now is the time to visit more than ever. Peace talks are underway, and President Santos has made several efforts to revive tourism in a country once plagued by drug cartels and violence. Bogotá is now a center for cultural events, with new hotels, restaurants, and museums; Medellín has invested in public transit and art institutions, and Cartagena is filled with luxury boutique hotels and trendy restaurants. Plus, flights are down 20 percent, with round-trip flights as low as $374.
1 USD = approx. 14.05 ZAR
Although South Africa isn’t the cheapest to get to – flights average around $800 round-trip – US travelers will find the dollar goes a long way once you arrive. For example, you can now embark on that African safari for much less. Hostels go for as low as $8 a night, while hotels are priced anywhere from $42-170 nightly. Most food items cost around $5, with most topping out at $10. Stay at a private all-inclusive game lodge for as low as $210 a night during the off-season, and be sure to take a trip to Cape Town.
1 USD = approx. 15.43 ARS
Home to Malbec, tango, and some of the best beef in the world, Argentina is an obvious choice when it comes to experiencing the liveliness that is Latin America. Within the last year, flight prices have dropped by ten percent, and the value of the dollar has nearly doubled. Getting to Buenos Aires will cost you about $800 round-trip, but staying in a four-star hotel won’t cost you more than $60 (during the off-season). The added bonus? Americans no longer have to pay the $160 reciprocity fee. So rest assured: gaucho tours, wine tasting, and prime cuts of steak won’t leave a hole in your pocket.
1 USD = approx. 0.94 EUR
The Euro has been dropping since mid-2015, and now that it’s nearly on-par with the dollar, Americans can cross that Euro trip off the bucket list. Spain, which has generally been cheaper than its neighbors, offers an ideal combination of warm blue waters, sandy beaches, and forest-covered hills along with internationally acclaimed restaurants, a bustling nightlife, and 2000-year-old historical architecture. The vibrant city of Barcelona is filled with inexpensive tapas bars, reasonably priced multi-course menus, and first-rate, affordable wine, and don’t miss Gaudí’s Sagrada Família. Also, be sure to take a trip to San Sebastián for world-class pintxos and stunning beaches.
1 USD = approx. 20.56 MXN
Mexico is a popular destination for US tourists, but this year it’s even more attractive. The Mexican Peso is down 26.6 percent, so a bucket of cold beer and white sandy shores will come cheap. Round-trip flights cost around $404, and hotels $29-97 a night. Budget travelers can even opt for a hostel for a nightly $8. Adventures won’t cost much either: a two-day guided horseback tour or mountain biking trip only costs around $48. Tulum is a no-brainer for getting off the grid, but Mexico City is experiencing a cultural renaissance: new museums, acclaimed restaurants, and a thriving art scene.