Much has changed since I originally wrote the best the places to travel on a weak dollar and the subsequent 7 up and coming best places to travel on a weak dollar. (Iceland can now be taken off the list, like I predicted, prices are making a steady increase now 18 months later.) You can still find relatively good deals in any country you travel to, but if you want to find your own best places to travel on a weak dollar, here’s how you can create a personal list for yourself.
Make A List Of Where You Want To Go (Don’t Omit)
Start by creating a list of the places you want to travel and don’t leave off any place just because you “know” it’s expensive. Once you have this list you can group it into regions, in order of personal preference, or any other categories. You may begin to notice similarities in the cultures and places you’ve chosen, or the reasons you chose them (i.e. wonderful beaches).
Look On The Borders
As soon as a countries economies turn their focus on tourism and the industry takes off, so do the prices. It’s one of the reasons that independent budget travel to Cuba and other popular destinations is so expensive according to Lauren Quinn. One good way to get around this is to look right across the border of the expensive places you want to visit. Thailand is a good deal, but Cambodia is better. The Mediterranean coast of Northern Cyprus is just as lovely as the Turkish one but about a quarter of the price.
- Borders don’t cut off cultures, peoples, regional foods and traditions. Also, if you book your hotel, hostel, or other accommodations near the border you can see both the ‘expensive’ country and the cheaper one you elected to visit. It will cost less and you’ll add variety and get to make a few cultural comparisons in the process.
Remember though when looking for cheap places to travel, when a country or area’s neighbors start to get expensive it’s one of the warning signs of losing that cheap destination.
Use The Right Tools
There are some great digital tools you can use to see how one currency is holding up against another.
- My favorite is the Economist’s Foreign Exchange Map which shows in a nice graphic interface how any two currencies are moving against each other and at what rate.
- The Currency iPhone app (which also works on the iPod touch) gives you real time updates on current exchange rates you can use for last minute trip plans.
- Google makes converting currencies very easy and Google hacking your next trip is a good skill to learn.
- The news. It’s not a very sexy or automated, but you can gather a lot of information and get a good idea of where economies are headed by monitoring local and regional stability and economic trends.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
It’s easy to set your focus on one single destination and the longer you do the more complacent you might be on considering other places where your dollar (or other currency for that matter) might go a bit further. At this stage you may consider canceling your trip if the economy (or dollar) takes a turn for the worse. Instead take a look at 8 places in the world you should visit but might be scared to or use these methods to figure out where to go.
I’d still suggest these destinations that are good deals and less crowded than their neighbors.
- The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Especially in the case of the dollar, which is doesn’t go to far in the Eurozone or the UK, there are always many other countries with much weaker currencies. The best part is that they don’t tend to be too far (or different) from the more expensive options.
[photos by: shyb, nathangibbs, Jeff_Werner]
I’ve heard Nicaragua being cheap, as well. Also in the same region (I know because I live here) that the quetzal in Guatemala is getting weaker against the USD. I am paid in dollars and I have a few extra bucks every month because of this. I don’t think it’s as cheap as Nicaragua, but there is easy access to it from the US and it’s quite affordable.
Thanks for adding that Benjamin. I think the region as a whole is pretty kind if you’ve got dollars. I’ve heard many great things about Guatemala and look forward to seeing it this spring.
Great tips as always, Anil!
We are planning to visit Cambodia this Summer so will report back on our finding. 🙂
Sounds great Amy!
I can highly recommend Cambodia. I just got back a few weeks ago. The temples around Siem Reap are unforgettable and the value is great. Vietnam is also wonderful, and I would rate both countries ahead of Thailand.
I think the entire region is opening up, I appreciate the feedback.
I’d add that places that have been politically turbulant but are now recovering and becoming calm are good places to try – I visited Lebanon this year which is a great example of that, just so long as things don’t heat up again with Israel. What a fabulous country.
Anywhere where a bomb just went off (remember Egypt) or has been plagued with strikes (Thailand)or Swine flu (Mexico)can also be a good place to go just afterwards – lightning probably won’t strike twice & you’ll find your tourist dollars are especially welcome, not to mention having the place to yourself.
Reminds me of when I went to India, a few days after the hotel shootings. Prices were lower and there weren’t many crowds although I think the recovery was very quick.
I’m glad you brought that up, excellent advice. Many places get a bad reputation quickly and take a long time to clear up their image.
Madagascar can be added to the list as well
I was about to put it on the list but had read about the political instability and decided against it at the last minute. I’m not entirely familiar with the situation there, I’ll research it further. If you have any resources or additional information would appreciate it!
I remember talking to a Peace Corp volunteer though email back in 2001 – 2002. She was assigned to Madagascar. She admitted she felt safer in Madagascar than in the US. She loved it and considers it her future home regardless of how poor the country is. Don’t know about know though.
I came across this just now:
Thanks for the link Melvin. All of this has made me curious to find out more. I’ll start working on getting more info…
Melvin, here you go:
Within 5-10 years 1 Euro may equal 5 US dollars. It may happen sooner.
I think the EU will try to control their currency from becoming that much stronger against the dollar for a variety of economic reasons.
I did get carried away. lol. Seriously, the highest it could get would be 1 Euro = 2 USD or 2.50 USD. Prices in the EU will increase though.
Swiss Franc will get strong as the Euro.
Think the British pound will get any stronger?
I’ve read the UK wants to adopt the Euro.
Looks like the British pound will top out around 1.62 against the dollar:
india is indeed cheap…
another place that i find cheap is cambodia, i found a $1 hostel in siem reap… it’s always fully booked though and there’s no fan… perfect for those who are on a real tight budget and those who dont mind sweating alot lol…
I like the heat and warm weather. It’s freezing I don’t tolerate well 😉
Hey Anil, you are absolutely right about leaving your comfort zone. It is imperative in order to be able to afford to travel. Asia, Central Asia, and Africa – developing areas – are great places to travel on a budget and get by for easily under 10-15 dollars a day. As you know, we just went from Shanghai West to the Med by land. This was the wrong way to do it, as we got hit hard monetarily towards the end of our trip. Italy and the Euro almost bankrupted us! Ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I was much more accustomed to paying like 7.00 USD a night for a hostel instead of 40 or 50.
Europe is expensive, I still can’t get over it now that I’m here! The money I make doesn’t go nearly as far…I’m looking forward to making it towards some cheaper pastures.
This post was so full of good info and advice that I bookmarked it, both on my laptop & on Delicious, and Stumbled & tweeted it. Thank you!
Thank you very, very much Barbara – I appreciate it!
I enjoyed a lot the post and the comments. I’d maybe add among the cheap countries Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador and Nepal (there are certainly other which I did not visit so far).
I totally agree that Europe – and Italy – has become awfully expensive, even for EU members. Luckily I visited many countries in the past, since I could not afford it anymore or I should reduce travel time by a half which is out of question 🙂
I sometimes wonder how Europeans themselves afford the high prices. Doesn’t seem they make much more in wages to compensate for the high prices.
I’d say a big thing is flexibility. Being able to go to the cheapest destination at the last moment. With so many of these places, airfare is the biggest expense so if you can cut $500 off of that you’re laughing. Our family got tickets to Vietnam at the last minute this past summer for about $675. That saved us at least $1200 (for the 4 of us) right there. Here’s the our travel story if anyone is interested: http://mylittlenomads.com/2010/01/trip-review-vietnam/
You made a lot of good points though Anil. I like how you get back to people on their comments. Thumbs up to you man. Have a good one.
Thanks David, I always try and take the time to respond if people take the time to leave a comment I think they deserve as much. The comments are my favorite and the best parts about each post for me.
I appreciate the comment and point about flexibility (absolutely agree) and look forward to reading more from your blog.
Far East Russia could be added on the list.
Nicaragua definitely! It’s an inexpensive travel destination and it’s totally affordable to do stuff and try authentic cuisine. The country is a bargain compared to Costa Rica. A lot of people are really looking into the country because buying everything from souvenirs to property is inexpensive. Truly a place to travel!
That usually what happens when one country in a region takes off, everything across the border is a bargain in comparison. I’ve heard many good things about Nicaragua and will try to visit it when I’m in Central America later this summer.