Relative to most foreign currencies, the U.S. dollar is as strong as it’s been in years. That is a great thing for those with a case of wanderlust. Because the U.S. dollar continues to strengthen, its a prime time to travel abroad, no matter the destination. There are, however, some places where U.S. currency is particularly valued.
Five Places to Travel While US Dollar is Strong
If you’re not using frequent flyer miles, hotel reward points, or another form of travel hacking, then globetrotting is an expensive hobby. With flights, hotels, meals, and tours, travel expenses add up (even if you take advantage of travel rewards credit cards that earn you points for travel). Traveling when the dollar is exceptionally high can make all those small expenses much more manageable.
CN Traveler’s list of eight countries where the dollar is particularly strong included Norway – for the sole reason that it was cheaper to travel there today than it was 10 years ago. Iceland also bears that honor, but when a 10 minute taxi ride costs me the equivalent of $70, I don’t consider that a cheap vacation, whatever the exchange rate happens to be!
Instead, this list focuses on destinations where U.S. dollar purchasing power is exceptionally high overall.
An outdoor lover’s paradise, Lord of the Rings fans dream destination, a wino’s new favorite wine region, and a steal against next-door-neighbor Australia. New Zealand experiences range from backpacker budget to ultra-luxe. Go now and even the swankiest of lodges will only cost an arm, instead of an arm and a leg. For example, one night at The Cordis by Langham, in Auckland, is $549 NZD – or a little over $350 USD. A night at Eichardt’s Private Hotel, one of our favourite SLH hotels in NZ, runs $1,120+, or around $720 USD.
A boon for U.S. tourists, Argentina dropped a $160 reciprocity fee in 2016. Couple this with an incredibly weak – and quickly weakening – peso and a tax refund on hotel stays, and Argentina appears to be one of the best values in the world right now. While Buenos Aires beckons those eager to learn the tango, marvel at colonial architecture, and dine at world-class establishments, Argentina is a vast country with plenty of room to roam.
Spend some time in Mendoza, learning the art of Malbec wine, or visit Patagonia for jaw-dropping mountain landscapes. Explore Iguazu Falls — five times the size of Niagara Falls by volume — or head to neighboring Uruguay for an easy day trip.
Buenos Aires’ Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau rates begin at $660 – far less than, say, Park Hyatt Milan (€590+) or New York ($1,195+).
Portugal remains a great value for American travelers, despite being on the Euro. The dollar-euro exchange rate has been more stable than others – between 80¢ and 90¢ through the year – but prices in Portugal are among the lowest in Europe. If you like exceptional wine regions (hello Douro Valley!), tantalising old world cities (Porto and Lisbon), a vibrant Central Portugal heartland, and a beach scene for everyone (the Algarve and the Azores), meet Portugal.
Rates at Porto’s The Yeatman Hotel – one of the most luxurious hotels in the country – begin at €255/night, or approximately $292 USD.
As a bonus, Portugal combines easily with numerous European destinations on stopover programs.
Easy to get to, easy to fall in love with. Colombia – once war-torn, in the midst of civil war and far off the beaten path – is now a mecca of culture and food. Capital Bogota, beachy Cartagena, and culturally hip Medellin each offer distinct and authentic cultural experiences.
This rich country boasts high biodiversity (1 in 10 of the world’s species live here), lush rainforests, gorgeous coastlines, and more. Colombia also ranks high in sustainable tourism lists and has an ambitious plan for its national parks.
An entry-level room at the Four Seasons Casa Medina Bogota starts at $400 USD/night. Entry-level rooms at a Four Seasons in Buenos Aires begin at $755 USD.
The South African rand continues to fall, making this far off destination even more affordable. While Johannesburg remains the only South African city with direct U.S. service, easy European connections to Cape Town and Durban are a reasonable possibility. Try Air France or KLM Flying Blue, Lufthansa (via Aeroplan or United) or even Qatar Airways (bookable using American AAdvantage and other Oneworld airline programs).
Kruger National Park is one of the world’s best destinations for safari. For the best of both worlds, combine a safari with a city stay. There are 27 Virtuoso hotels in South Africa, from Cape Town to the bush, and plenty of opportunities to see wildlife and experience South Africa’s history, all for relatively inexpensively.
One night at the Taj Cape Town – a five star luxury hotel – will run you approximately $300 USD, while one night at the Taj in London is at least $600 USD.
Other Ways to Take Advantage of the Strong US Dollar
- To make the most of your money, use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees
- Always pay for purchases in the local currency to avoid any added fees
- Utilize your airlines miles to get award tickets. All major US carriers and their codeshares fly to the above destinations!
- Consider applying for a credit card that offers hotel rewards and use those to earn free nights around the world
If you’re not ready to go somewhere, consider working with a travel advisor to map out your future travels. My clients benefit from a private consultation, an innovative virtual program, and access to unique experiences they can’t get elsewhere. For those on a budget, we can plan trips taking exchange rate trajectories into consideration.
Sarah is a luxury travel advisor and avid traveller. When she isn’t writing for Point Me To The Plane you can find her crafting custom itineraries for clients or exploring the far reaches of our wonderful planet. Read more about her adventures at The Girl With the Map Tattoo.