Where to get the most return on your investment

It’s the backpacker’s call to India, the sun seeker’s attraction to Mexico and the digital nomad’s impulse to reach Thailand: go where the dollar buys the most.

The perennial budget travel strategy is getting a boost this summer: the dollar has risen against a number of foreign currencies, including the Japanese yen, thanks to high interest rates offered by the Federal Reserve – attracting foreign investment, which strengthens the dollar.

“A destination’s weaker currency means greater value for U.S. tourists,” said Erina Pindar, chief operating officer and managing partner of SmartFlyer, a global travel agency based in New York City.

“This economic advantage could make distant destinations in Asia, such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan, or in South America, such as Peru, Argentina and Chile, more accessible than ever,” he added.

Far-flung destinations are generally more expensive to fly to, which, along with the physical toll of jet lag, helps make the case for the country’s North American neighbors, Canada and Mexico, where exchange rates have long favored the dollar’s purchasing power. .

But this year there are some new competitors with attractive exchange rates to consider, including the following destinations.

The US dollar is currently worth around 1.50 Australian dollars, an increase of around 16% over the past three years.

The hurdle, of course, is the long flight, which can easily cost more than $1,000 round trip. But travel search engine Kayak lists some attractive summer return fares between the West Coast and Sydney from $770, with best availability in August.

Traveling around Australia by plane isn’t cheap either, especially since the recent collapse of low-cost airline Bonza. Jetstar offers lower fares, including recently $50 one-way tickets between Melbourne and Adelaide.

Caravans can be an affordable way to travel around Australia, with companies such as Jucy, Britz and Apollo offering vehicles that include beds and kitchen equipment. Jucy recently priced a two-person van rented for a week in July at about $53 per night.

The Northern Hemisphere summer is Australia’s winter. If you’re planning a ski holiday in the Australian Alps, Tourism Australia suggests avoiding mid-July, when schools are out and many families hit the slopes.

Australia does not have a tipping culture, potentially saving travelers 20% on restaurant meals, according to Craig Bradbery, director of operations at Baillie Lodges, which includes the recently redeveloped Southern Ocean Lodge, a luxury property on the Island. Kangaroo.

Many destinations in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, offer attractive exchange rates. In Indonesia, the rupiah is at its lowest level in four years against the dollar.

“I would send clients to Bali, Indonesia,” said Rob Huie, owner of Millsboro, Del.-based Luxury Travel Services by Rob, noting that the cost of living is low on the island. “The caveat is a higher initial cost to fly there, but once there, you can stay in three- and four-star hotels at very affordable prices, have meals for $10 to $25 a day and massages for US$10 to US$30.”

Travelers with Marriott loyalty points can redeem them at Four Points by Sheraton Bali, Kuta (rooms from $57 per night). IGH Reward members can spend or earn points at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach (from $138).

Tripadvisor’s list of the best budget hotels in the central highlands around Ubud includes options under $100.

Bali is a good place to look for vacation rentals, according to home rental platform HomeToGo. Their data shows that the average nightly price for a rental property in Bali this summer is $86, compared to the average rental price in the United States of $388.

“Despite the strength of the US dollar on a global scale, prices in every state continue to rise, leading travelers to seek out international destinations where their dollar can stretch even further,” said Eleanor Moody, travel expert at HomeToGo, who added According to research, the number of rentals in Indonesia more than doubled last year.

South America – including Argentina, where inflation has soared, and Peru, where the sun has softened against the dollar – is another place to look for value.

“Stop going to Europe,” said Cecile Blot, owner of travel agency Boundless Travels in Washington, D.C., praising “dupe destinations” in South America. “Many of the southern continent countries offer the complete package – history, culture, nature, culinary delights, world-class accommodation – at a fraction of the price.”

One of them is Colombia, where the dollar recently reached about 3,935 pesos, a gain of about 20% in the last five years.

“Colombia has something for everyone,” said Stefanie Pichonnat, owner of Terre Haute, Indiana-based AAV Travel, citing Cartagena, in the Caribbean, as an economical substitute for a European capital, and the coastal Tayrona National Natural Park as a cheaper alternative to Costa Rica.

“Coffee aficionados can spend days visiting coffee farms, passionate hikers can challenge themselves with a trek into the Paramo Desert and bird watchers will find an abundance of options to explore,” she added.

Air service is frequent and affordable. A recent search for round-trip fares from the New York area revealed summer departures starting at about $290 to the capital Bogota and $320 to the coast from Cartagena.

From Bogotá, visitors can reach Chingaza National Natural Park in the eastern Andes, or spend a few days in the laid-back colonial town of Villa de Leyva. But Colombia’s mountainous terrain and dangerous roads often require travelers to fly domestically to see other areas.

Among the tour operators that do the planning for you, England-based Responsible Travel offers a customizable 12-day trip to Colombia that visits Bogotá, Medellín and the central coffee region, including the lush Cocora Valley with its almost 60 meters high. wax palm trees (from US$2,990 per person).

The US dollar is currently worth about 156 Japanese yen, a gain of more than 11% from last year.

Demand for Japan was already expanding when the economic situation improved. BWH Hotels, which includes Best Western hotels, said occupancy and rates have grown steadily over the past two years due to demand and staff shortages, especially in popular destinations such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido.

But with careful planning, Americans can still exploit the exchange rate. IHG Hotels & Resorts, which operates hotel brands in the country from the design-focused Voco to the upscale InterContinental, suggested traveling in early July to get the best rates (a night at Voco Osaka Central costs from US$ $135).

The Japanese-owned Hoshino Resorts tend to be upscale, but their OMO line offers more basic accommodations, from capsule hotels to full-service locations. The OMO5 Kyoto Gion, for example, offers rooms that sleep up to six people and include a kitchen, starting at 24,000 yen, or around US$153. Staff guides offer free tours of temples in the area.

While many temples, parks, and shrines are free, travelers in the capital can get the Tokyo Museum Grutto Pass for 2,500 yen (about $16), which includes entry to more than 100 of the city’s museums and attractions.

Among the tips for travelers on a budget, Japan’s tourism office recommends making lunch your big meal, as many restaurants offer midday specials.

There are a number of affordable ways to get around Japan, including trains (a Japan Rail Pass starts at 50,000 yen, or about $320, for seven days), low-cost airlines like Peach and Zipair, and night buses.

Or consider walking the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, which connects sacred shrines in the Kii Mountains. Walk Japan offers a seven-day self-guided trip, including accommodations and most meals, starting at 224,000 yen.

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