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Money & Culture

Where to Get More Bang for Your Buck on Vacation This Year

May 26, 2017
Red bus: Currency exchange rates and travel destinations
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Haven’t planned your vacation yet?

If you need inspiration, look at where your dollar will go further and plan an international destination. The dollar is stronger against many currencies, and the added purchasing power might mean getting better lodging, cheaper meals, and more lucrative shopping sprees.

Travel experts give their views on this year’s top international travel destinations for foreign-exchange-minded folks.

Close to Home

Late last year, the Mexican peso hit multi-decade lows against the dollar. And although it has risen a bit in recent months, our southern neighbor is still a relative bargain, with the U.S. dollar near its highest level in more than two decades. Several travel experts cite it as a top pick.

Brian Sanchez of Travel Leaders in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, says Mexico offers something for every traveler.

“There are few destinations that offer as much value for your hard-earned money, yet also give you as limitless options for resorts and culture experiences as Mexico,” he says.

On the Pacific side, bigger destinations like Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos are popular. On the Gulf side, the Riviera Maya, Cancun, and Cozumel offer every accommodation type and some of the world’s best beaches, Sanchez says. 

“This area also boasts some of the top areas for ecotourism and chances to visit ancient Mayan ruins just off your resort,” he says.

Far-Flung Flights of Fancy

The dollar’s strength versus the Thai baht is near some of its highest levels since 2009, making this bucket-list-worthy destination a good price, too. Michelle Bates of Travel Leaders in Davis, California, says the Asian country straddles the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, giving visitors numerous beaches to visit. Thailand also offers a variety of activities to please every traveler.

“They can also enjoy hiking, swimming, scuba diving, and kayaking,” Bates said. “They can get a massage, enjoy the world's greatest cuisine, and visit some temples and museums.”

Europe will always be a destination for Americans, and the dollar continues to sit near a 10-year-plus high versus the euro and the British pound, putting must-see locations like London, Paris, and Rome on sale.

But to get a better return on the vacation dollar, and to avoid the summer crowds in popular western European cities, look east.

Vogue magazine has said that eastern Europe will be this year’s hot destination as Americans want less touristy areas. European travel expert Rick Steves noted that old-world charming cities like Vienna and Prague are stepping up their game by continuing to modernize and evolve.

Cultural and history aficionados can marvel at Vienna’s famed Opera House and see the Habsburg main and summer palaces with short hops on modern train systems, making this city a great alternative to Paris. Vienna also allows quick access to up-and-coming Bratislava, Slovakia, only an hour away by train, or a boat trip down the beautiful Danube to see two countries in one trip. Or, once you’ve made it to Bratislava, extend your trip eastward a couple hours and add beautiful Budapest to your list.

Michelle Weller of Travel Leaders in Houston, Texas, is a fan of picturesque Prague, and notes that its pricing beats Paris.

“Prices at the Four Seasons in Prague with a castle view are much lower than Eiffel Tower views in Paris and the view is just as fantastic. Food and other expenses are very competitive as well,” she says.

Now, go pack your bags!

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