10 of the Best Value Locations for US Dollar Travelers in 2016
We’ve published Top 10 Best Value articles for Canadian & Australian Dollars as well as for Euro travelers.
Are finances your biggest concern about doing a long-term trip? If so, this is reason to rejoice, and act now, in executing your big adventure.
We’ve nailed down ten of the best destinations for independent travelers in 2016 based on currency exchange as the primary factor. We’ve put together a sample trip for you, through our Indie Travel Planner, to show you just how easy it is to take the trip of a lifetime on a shoe string budget.
Here are the details on the around the world route priced at $2040 USD, above.
- Fly NYC to Montreal
- Fly Montreal to Paris
- Travel overland to Moscow
- Take the Trans-Siberian Railway to Beijing
- Fly to Phnom Penh
- Fly to Sydney
- Fly home to NYC
We priced this trip in March 2016. Starting in Montreal will let you practice your French close to home and take advantage of the direct flights between Montreal and Paris.
Once on the continent, explore a little bit and then travel overland to Moscow. You’ll have arranged your visa for Russia in advance because you’re about to take the most epic train trip of them all: The Trans-Siberian Railway, only you’re going to take a right turn at Lake Baikal, head south through Mongolia, and step off the train in the heart of the Orient: Beijing.
After you’ve eaten your fill of real Chinese food and had a bit of a walk on the Great Wall, you plan to hop a flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
See Angkor Wat, take the Bamboo Train, sip cheap beers on the beach. Knock around the surrounding countries of Southeast Asia for a few weeks, or a couple of months, whatever it takes you.
Then, head Down Under and spend some time surfing Australia, SCUBA diving the Great Barrier reef, or venturing into the Outback.
You’ll be back in New York by mid-summer, unless you go native, that is; in which case your family can ship your stuff to that beach hut in the Cambodian islands.
Total cost for the flights for that journey: About $2040 USD (depends on where you start from, and your dates).
1 USD = 1.39 CAD (Canadian Dollar)
A year ago, the Dollar only offered a 15% advantage north of the border. This winter it has fallen so far that the exchange rate offers an almost 40% “discount.” Prices on hotels and services have not jumped, so travel to Canada offers a substantial return on investment for Americans.
You read that right: The entire country of Canada is like a 40% off sale.
What does that mean? Here are some examples of average prices, converted:
Average price of Hotel in Vancouver, CA = $123.95 = $85.51 USD
Average price of Hostel in Vancouver, CA = $27.81= $19.85 USD
Average price of Hotel in Montreal, CA = $115.37 = $82.41 USD
Average price of Hostel in Montreal, CA = $22.38 = $15.99 USD
Think about this for a minute, folks. Not only can you travel in Canada inexpensively, it’s also a great time to be planning long weekend shopping trips north of the border, or considering major purchases through Canadian companies.
Dave & Deb of The Planet D have this to say about Canada:
“Canada is an excellent option for US travellers. As the Canadian dollar falls the value for tourism bucks goes up. With an excellent infrastructure and magnificent experiences, Canada is our number one choice. And that’s not just because we’re Canadian. Canada has polar bears, beluga whales, wolves and grizzly bears making it one of the great places for wildlife watching. With cosmopolitan cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, it’s a country that truly has it all and it’s good for all budgets.”
1 USD = .91 EU (Euro)
With the Euro almost on par with the USD, there hasn’t been a better time to visit Europe if stretching your dollar is a concern. Eastern Europe, Spain, and Portugal still offer some of the best values as their economies still lag behind the big players in Europe. Even so, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, and other destinations, are cheaper than they used to be.
Travis Sherry, from Extra Pack of Peanuts, recommends Europe for 2016:
“It’s a great time to head to Europe, especially Western Europe, which is usually a pretty pricey place to travel – especially places like Paris and the Scandanavian countries. It’s still not cheap like other places in the world, but if it’s somewhere you want to go, now’s the time to take advantage of it.”
Adam Groffman, of Travels of Adam recommends Spain:
“Spain is consistently a great destination for budget tourists. With such a diverse culture and cities that are accommodating for every budget, it can often be a great deal. You can even make your money stretch a bit further by visiting smaller Spanish cities like Seville or Valencia rather than the heavy-hitters like Madrid and Barcelona. You’ll find the food just as equally amazing and often at half the price.”
This is an almost 50% increase in value over this time last year for the USD. Russia remains a challenge as far as visas are concerned, for indie travelers, but with careful planning Russia is a fantastic adventure. With the dollar continuing to rise there is no better time to book that epic train trip across Russia you’ve been dreaming about.
This represents a six year low for the Australian Dollar. A traditionally “expensive” destination, it’s now a good value! If you’re looking to keep costs down within Australia, think about the east coast, and small towns instead of major cities.
Sydney is the cheapest place to fly into, but expensive to hang out in. Perth is notoriously high dollar, and Melbourne isn’t a budget destination either. However, some of the beach towns on the Bellarine Peninsula (a quick train ride from Geelong to Melbourne) offer great value, especially off season. Or, lower costs further by renting, or buying, a camper van and taking an epic Australian road trip. It’s a country that begs to be camped.
Caz Makepeace of yTravelBlog has this to add:
“I see Australia being a great value destination for 2016. It’s currently on sale for 40% off thanks to a falling Australian Dollar. In a country as expensive as Australia, now is the time to visit and get more value for your money.”
Brazil is at the end of a long commodities boom which means that the Real is falling against the American dollar. This would be a great year to take that long awaited trip to Rio for Mardi Gras, or that trek up into the Amazon rain forest to count butterflies that’s been on your bucket list for far too long. Brazil is chock-full of amazing places just waiting to be explored.
This represents an almost thirty percent increase in value over last year at this same time. Colombia has an outdated reputation for being very dangerous, but is safer, and becoming popular with independent travelers.
The Rand is down from 11.71 compared to this time last year. That’s a good chunk.
Of course, to South Africa from the USA, the flights are the rough part. There’s nothing to be done about the length of the flights, but the costs have been lower in recent months. According to preliminary searches, flights booked for mid Feb 2016 are as low as $885 RT from NYC. Wow! Safari anyone? You’ve got to see it, to believe it.
Travis Sherry, also recommends South Africa for 2016:
“Cape Town is one of my favorite cities in the world, and with the rand sinking like a stone, you can go there and live like a king or queen. $5 will get a you regular restaurant meal, where as $12-17 will get you a 3 course meal at some of the city’s finest restaurants. Accommodations are pretty easy to get, either hostels and guesthouses for $30 a night, mid-range hotels for $50-60, or even good 2 bedroom AirBnB apartments for $60-80. Can’t beat it – especially with the famed wine region right around the corner!”
The Riel has actually gained a bit on the Dollar since this time last year, but not by much. Cambodia remains the cheapest country in SEA for those traveling with American money in their pockets. American $1 bills are as common as local currency and can be used everywhere.
It’s easy to find very nice hotels for less than $15 a room (sometimes with a pool!) and meals on the street will run about $1. Siem Reap, the tourist mecca, is a bit more expensive, and Angkor Wat is down right pricey, but worth every penny, and should not be missed (besides, you’re saving so much in the rest of the country you can afford to go!)
It’s been a rough year for Nepal, with devastating earthquakes, followed by a barricade that is keeping fuel out of the country along the border with India. Prices for travelers with US Dollars are low, low, low and make this awesome destination even more of a bargain than normal.
This is a great time to show your support by spending your travel dollars into the economy in sustainable ways. Add Nepal to your travel itinerary for 2016.
Cuba seems to be on everyone’s travel list for this year and it’s no surprise why. In addition to being a great exchange value, Cuba is just beginning to open up for American travelers. The lifting of some of the sanctions left over from the Cold War, as well as the long suffered travel restrictions, means that Cuba is now on the table for Americans, legally, for the first time in decades. Because it’s just now legal to spend American money in Cuba, there aren’t backpacker indexes comparing costs in previous years, hence, no graphic. All we can tell you is that the exchange rate is in your favor and this is your chance to get in on the ground floor.
To see it before it becomes a well worn part of the American travel circuit, don’t wait. Go now.
Flights are becoming available from the east coast, from both JFK and from Florida. Prices are high for the flights at the moment, but it’s worth it to beat the rush. Some restrictions remain for US travelers to the island nation, independent travel is still difficult, but educational tours are popping up. For the truly intrepid, and those not worried about breaking the law, it is still possible to get there the “old fashioned” way by flying through Mexico of Canada and not getting the stamp in your passport.
Source: We’ve used Numbeo to base our infographic estimates of overall cost comparisons of the individual countries.
*Backpacker estimated cost per day including meals in inexpensive restaurant, public transport and cheap hotel.
*Business or regular tourist estimated cost per day including mid-range meals, drinks, transportation and a hotel.