Six Places You Never Thought You Could Afford - 2010 Edition

Couple Tango Dancing (Photo: iStockphoto/Grafissimo)
by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on March 27, 2010. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Auckland, Buenos Aires, currency exchange, destination, Florence, Hamburg, Ho Chi Minh City, hotel, Krakow, London, Miami, Mumbai, New York City, Panama City, Paris, Sarah Pascarella, vacation package, vacation rental.

Dreaming of a far-flung vacation? This year, those out-of-reach destinations may be surprisingly affordable. Last year, we covered six places you never thought you could afford. This year, we've compiled another six hot spots, with a twist—while these locales may be expensive to get to, the in-country costs make the vacation budget easy. In fact, we've even compared these far-flung locales with more traditional vacation destinations to show you just how budget-friendly globetrotting can be. Read on to start planning this year's vacation of a lifetime.

Editor's Note: All price comparisons feature round-trip airfare, including taxes and fees. Hotel prices reflect the room's base price, are based on double occupancy, and do not include taxes and fees.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

History, food and wine, art, and nightlife—there may be no better value-packed destination this year than Buenos Aires. Nicknamed the "Paris of South America", Buenos Aires can give you a cultural experience with both Latin American and European influences. And with the country celebrating its bicentennial in May, it's an ideal time to visit.

The country, still recovering from the peso crisis of 2001, offers a great value for overseas travelers, particularly Americans. At press time, $1 US gets you 3.86 Argentina pesos (see XE.com for current exchange rates), so your money goes far in-country. Frommer's notes that while the Argentinian economy has been steadily recovering, a Buenos Aires vacation still typically costs about 30 percent less than popular destinations in North America or Europe.

Airfare from New York City starts around $700 round-trip, taxes included, for travel in April and May; three-star downtown hotels can be found from $56, and one-bedroom downtown apartment rentals start at $250 per week. For two people traveling together, you can ballpark about $1,650 to $1,800 for airfare-and-accommodations for a seven-night vacation this spring.

Let's compare that price tag to a week in Paris during the same time period. Airfare from New York starts around $650 in April and May, a three-star hotel near the Champs-Elysees/Belle Epoque district costs $109 per night, and a one-bedroom Montmartre apartment can be rented for $436 per week. All told, a seven-night Parisian vacation starts between $1,750 and $2,100 for airfare and accommodations for two people traveling together. In this case, the base price for the Buenos Aires vacation cost about $100 to $300 less than Paris.

The real sticking point in Paris, however, is the currency exchange rate. At press time, $1 is worth just €0.73. According to Parislogue, daily food expenses can cost up to $109 per person per day for three meals. Of course, that's budgeting on the high end, but already-pricey city costs and an unforgiving exchange rate can really add up.

Keep your per-day costs in mind when comparing destinations for your upcoming vacation—especially if you're the type of traveler that likes fine dining, shopping for souvenirs, and patronizing attractions with admission fees. In this case, you may find the far-flung destination is a lot more budget-friendly.

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