Where Does Your Dollar Stretch Farthest Right Now?
The U.S. dollar has gained 37 percent against Costa Rica's currency over the past five years. Oceanview rooms at Costa Rica's Arenas del Mar Beach & Nature Resort, a property on Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List, start at $200.
Photo: Arenas del Mar
by Wendy Perrin
Sorry I've been incommunicado the past few days. Between compiling my annual list of the Top Travel Specialists for Conde Nast Traveler's upcoming August issue, working on our (also now annual) August-issue cruise booklet, and creating a (hopefully not annual) major online contest with multiple cool giveaways that will happen here on this blog starting mid-June (stay tuned), I have not had one single second even to write a Perrin Report for the July, August, or September issues, much less post tips here daily. All of you who've posted "Ask Wendy" questions here within the past week, please be patient as I try to carve out five minutes to answer them. Meanwhile . . .
Where on earth can you go this summer that won't break the bank?! That was the topic yesterday on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC Radio--our beloved NPR station here in the New York area--where I'm the guest every Thursday morning in May as part of its month-long series on travel. I'm gonna assume you don't have time to listen to the show, so here's a short list of countries where the exchange rate is currently relatively decent:
The Americas: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, and any Caribbean countries that use the U.S. dollar (British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos) or the East Caribbean dollar (Anguilla, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, etc).
Europe: Eastern European countries that do not use the euro (especially Romania), countries such as Croatia and Turkey that will be adopting the euro within the next few years (go NOW, before they become unaffordable!!), Switzerland (where your dollar equals 1.05 Swiss francs), Leichtenstein (which also uses the Swiss franc), Portugal (because it's relatively cheap, despite the euro). And any of you Conde Nast Traveler subscribers who've already received our June issue know how cheap my recent villa rental in Spain was (again, despite the euro).
Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos.
The Middle East: Egypt, Jordan, Syria.
Obviously this list isn't exhaustive, but at least it should provide a few affordable vacation ideas. If you've recently traveled in a country that you found to be a bargain, whatever the exchange rate, please click on "Comments" below and tell us, so that others can benefit from learning where you went and how you made it affordable. And if you haven't read Conde Nast Traveler's February 2008 article "Dollar Power," be sure to do so before choosing your summer vacation destination.