5 places to travel while the dollar is strong

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Tips For Stretching Your Travel Dollars In 2015

Travel isn't cheap, but when the dollar is 15%–55% stronger against other currencies than it has been in over a decade, now is the time to travel! Not everywhere is a good value at this time. Some other currencies are flourishing just like the USD, so if you want to find strong-dollar discounts, you have to know where to look. Here are five amazing places to visit that are far less expensive than they have been in a recent five-year history thanks to a strong U.S. dollar.

Note: All currency conversions are based on XE.com's historical data. The current exchange rates may have changed since this article was published. Daily budgets and average hotel costs were calculated using numbeo.com's travel index tool.

Check out the 5 places to travel while the dollar is still strong below:

5 places to travel while the dollar is strong
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5 places to travel while the dollar is strong

1. South Africa ($1 USD = 15 ZAR) 

Five years ago, you would have only gotten 6.73 Rand for your dollar, but now you'll feel more than twice as rich in South Africa. There has never been a better time to go on an African safari. In 2010, entrance to South Africa's biggest park (Kruger National Park) would have cost $23.77 (160 ZAR), but now, you can watch lions, zebras and elephants roam free for just $17.50 (264 ZAR)!

A four-day luxury lodge safari trip in Kruger National park is around 15,000 ZAR. In 2010, that would have been $2,225 USD, but today it's only around $965 USD!

A budget room in a guest house (known as a "backpacker" in South Africa) will cost you about 385 ZAR. In 2010, that equated to $57 a night, but today you'll pay just over $25 for the same room.

The Math

  • Midrange Daily Budget: 500 ZAR / Day
  • This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $74 / Day
  • This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $33 / Day
  • Savings of: 55%
  • Current Exchange: 1 USD = 15 ZAR
  • 5 Year High: 16.00
  • 5 Year Low: 6.56

2. Russia ($1 USD = 70 RUB) 

The beautiful city of Moscow, the churches of St.Petersburg, and the world's greatest train journey have never been so affordable. The Russian ruble fell drastically at the end of 2014, and while this isn't great for Russians, it is excellent for those of us who have always wanted to visit this vast and beautiful country.

The average price of a midrange hotel in Moscow is around 3,500 RUB. In 2010, that would have been $116, but today that is less than $50.

One of the most legendary train journeys on the planet, the Trans-Siberian, is now a better value than it has been in the past few decades. The trip from Moscow to Ulan Bator will run you around 35,000 Rubles for a first class ticket. At Christmas time in 2010, that would have been $1,160, but with today's exchange it's just $498! You can buy two tickets today, for the same price as one ticket would have cost you at the end of 2014. Incredible.

The Math

  • Midrange Daily Budget: 4000 RUB / Day
  • This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $133 / Day
  • This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $57 / Day
  • Savings of: 57%
  • Current Exchange: 1 USD = 70 RUB
  • 5 Year High: 71.91
  • 5 Year Low: 27.29

3. Brazil ($1 USD = 3.95 BRL) 

Although Brazil was once considered a "BRIC" economy, the collapse of oil prices, the FIFA World Cup, and preparation for the 2016 Olympics has proven pretty rough on Brazil's currency. Today the Brazilian real is suffering a real downturn and the U.S. dollar is getting about 57% more than it did around this time in 2010.

If the Brazilian real continues on this downward trend, the Olympics in 2016 might make for a great budget destination. According toolympics.org, tickets for events will go for around 70 real. That's only $17.70, and by the time the games begin, it might be even less.

A three-star hotel in Brazil averages at around R$230 per night. In 2010 that was $138, but today that same room will cost you less than $35.

The Math

  • Midrange Daily Budget: R$400 / Day
  • This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $240 / Day
  • This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $100 / Day
  • Savings of: 58%
  • Current Exchange: $1 USD = 3.95 RUB
  • 5 Year High: 4.17
  • 5 Year Low: 1.57

4. Japan ($1 USD = 122 JPY) 

I have personally always wanted to visit Japan, but I thought it would be outrageously expensive. This was true back in 2010 when the exchange rate was around 82¥ to the dollar. At that time, Japan would have been a steep holiday, but today the dollar gets 33% more than it did back then.

The average cost of a midrange hotel room in Japan is 10,000¥. In 2010 that would have been $122 USD, today that room will run you just $82.

A guided hike to the top of Mt.Fuji costs about 47,000¥. In 2010 that was $573, but today you'd pay $385.

The Math

  • Midrange Daily Budget: 19,000¥ / Day
  • This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $231 / Day
  • This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $155 / Day
  • Savings of: 33%
  • Current Exchange: $1 USD = 121.83 JPY
  • 5 Year High: 125.63
  • 5 Year Low: 75.76

5. Any Country Using the Euro ($1 USD = 0.92 EUR) 

Head to Europe for huge savings! Explore the whitewashed buildings of Oia, Greece, lay on the soft, sandy beaches of the Mediterranean, explore the beauty of Paris, and the history of Rome, all for a fraction of what it would have cost you just a few years ago.

At the end of 2010, the Euro was at 0.76 to the dollar, but today the dollar is 17% stronger and trades almost equally with the Euro. When I was in Greece, I found a lovely apartment just a few blocks from the sea on Santorini island. At the time (May, 2011), that apartment cost me 34 Euros, which was around $50 USD/night. Today I could get that same apartment for just over $37.

There hasn't been a cheaper time for Americans to visit Europe in over a decade. This is the perfect time to explore one of the most fascinating continents on Earth.

The Math

  • Midrange Daily Budget: €100 / Day
  • This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $131 / Day
  • This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $110 / Day
  • Savings of: 17%
  • Current Exchange: $1 USD = 0.915 EUR
  • 5 Year High: 0.95
  • 5 Year Low: 0.67


Enjoy it while it lasts...

Celebrate the strong American dollar by taking a trip to a place you couldn't afford previously. Enjoy the discounts while you can!

RELATED: The best places to travel based on your zodiac sign

Best places to travel for zodiac sign (My Domaine)
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5 places to travel while the dollar is strong

Marrakesh, Morocco

Who: Pisces (February 20–March 20) are naturally artistic and intuitive. They love the idea of escaping reality and exploring the globe. Pisces crave alone time to reflect and stay in touch with their emotions.

Where: Marrakech, Morocco, is calling! You'll feel as if you've stepped into another world when you wander the winding alleyways filled with merchants selling fragrant spices, fresh olives, and hand-painted ceramic wares. Be sure to visit Majorelle Garden, a 12-acre botanical garden in the heart of the city, owned by famed fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, for a quiet moment of solitude.

Photo: Courtesy of Pullman Hotels

Yosemite National Park, California

Who: Aries (March 21–April 20) are known for being courageous, energetic, and impulsive. They love physical challenges and spending their time outdoors.

Where: California's Yosemite National Park is a nature lover's playground. Hire a car and drive through Mammoth Lakes to see the spectacular park entrance. Be sure to stay for more than a weekend to explore the trails and spot wildlife like black beers and woodpeckers. If you're a seasoned hiker, apply for a permit in advance to do the iconic Half Dome day hike.

Photo: Doc Miles

Granada, Spain

Who: Taurus (April 21–May 21) are true romantics at heart. On weekends, they love to unwind by cooking, gardening, and spending time with loved ones.

Where: Granada beckons. The Spanish city is a cultural hub that boasts delectable tapas dishes and streets pulsing with music and the rhythm of local flamenco dancers. Add the Alhambra Palace to your must-see list; the stunning fortress has lacy Islamic archways and a gorgeous manicured garden that sprawls for miles.

Photo: Rolf Hicker

Tulum, Mexico

Who: Geminis (May 22–June 21) love company. They're a social bunch who are curious and talkative. They're also quick learners and love to explore new places, especially if they're only a short flight away.

Where: With its soft sand beaches and azure waves, Tulum, Mexico, is always a good idea and a perfect destination to see with friends. Indulge your curious side by exploring the Mayan ruins in Tulum National Park.

Photo: Iztok Alf Kurnik

Lisbon, Portugal

Who: Cancers (June 22–July 22) are artistic and highly imaginative. Close friendships are important to them, and they love catching up over a good meal.

Where: Lisbon, Portugal, is your ideal next destination. Art aficionados will love the vibrant street art scene, while foodies can flock to Time Out Mercado da Ribeira, a gourmet food hall where the country's most talented chefs serve up culinary delights. Don't miss the creamy Portuguese tarts—they're worth the long line.

Photo: Vacances Bleues

Chicago, Illinois

Who: Leos (July 23–August 21) love to go on vacation. They're less inclined to travel far but are happy to splash out and indulge their love for the arts and their theatrical side.

Where: London and New York often top the list of amazing performance cities, but theater buffs should add Chicago to their flight-alert list. Take a look at the Broadway shows playing at the Goodman and Chicago theaters, or visit Second City for a comedy scene, with alums like Tina Fey and Steve Carell.

Photo: Vladimir Mitrovic

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Who: Virgos (August 22–September 23) rarely take a break, so choosing a relaxing vacation destination is paramount. They love nature, healthy food, and cleanliness.

Where: Consider Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. The quaint town is quintessentially Swiss, with wood cabins, red Swiss flag bunting, and colorful window boxes. Jump on the funicular to Jungfrau, one of the most accessible mountains in the Bernese Alps. On a clear day, you can see as far as Germany and France.

Photo: Ravi S.R.

Sydney, Australia

Who: Libras (September 24–October 23) are intellectual, fair-minded, and diplomatic. They like to share experiences with others, appreciate natural beauty, and love to settle down with a good book.

Where: Australia's Harbor City combines sparkling world-class beaches with a bursting restaurant scene and plenty of natural attractions. Take your pick of picturesque beaches to throw down a towel and read a book—Tamarama, Balmoral, and Gordon's Bay are our picks. Venture out of town for a weekend trip to the Blue Mountains for awe-inspiring natural rock formations and dense bushland.

Photo: Eugene Tam for Aquabumps

Burano, Italy

Who: Scorpios (October 24–November 22) are brave, passionate, and honest. They're natural-born leaders who rarely take a break.

Where: Take a moment to relax in Burano, Italy. The vibrant city is filled with waterfront buildings painted with rainbow hues and colored awnings. You'll get on with the passionate Italian people, and if you feel the urge to flex your mind, download an Italian language app and try to order your next pasta in the local tongue.

Photo: Stevan ZZ

Madagascar, Africa

Who: Sagittarians (November 23–December 22) are curious and energetic. They're adventure seekers who crave freedom.

Where: Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa, has a unique mix of attractions for those who look beyond busy capital cities for vacation. From the lush rainforests to the white beaches and colorful reeves, Madagascar houses thousands of animal species you won't find anywhere else in the world.

Photo: Dennis Van de Water

Jasper National Park, Canada

Who: Capricorns (December 23–January 20) are family oriented. They're practical and often serious, with a lot of discipline.

Where: Test your disciplined nature at Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. Located in Alberta, the park has subalpine forests and an immense ice field, perfect for those determined to push their physical limits, or take the family on an outdoor escape.

Photo: Via Edu Photograhy

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Who: Aquarians (January 21–February 19) fight boredom at all costs. They seek out original adventures and love being independent.

Where: Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is an island in the Persian Gulf. You'll never have to worry about boredom during a trip to Abu Dhabi, thanks to an itinerary packed with sailing, historic sights, shopping and desert safaris.

Photo: Nicole S. Young

Marrakesh by Design by Maryam Montague
Lisbon Street Art by Photographs by Rob Wilkinson, $113.91
AIA Guide to Chicago by American Institute of Architects Chicago, $22.51
The Alhambra by Robert Irwin, $13.67
Madagascar by Xavier Van der Strappen, $169.13
Yosemite by Kate Nearpass Ogden, $19.35

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