Your hard-earned dollar can take you to some incredible places where favorable exchange rates and undervalued currencies get you more bang for your buck in 2018. While the greenback isn’t as strong as it was last year, the dollar goes further in several countries you might not have expected.
Editor’s Note: For the latest version of this story, see 9 Countries Where the U.S. Dollar Is Strongest in 2019.
Countries Where the U.S. Dollar Goes Further This Year
Here are insider tips on the travel destinations where your dollar goes furthest in 2018.
Now is a great time to leverage the strong dollar in Japan before prices rise and crowds descend on Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. This year, the yen is expected to depreciate 4.3 percent against the U.S. dollar, according to the 2018 Global Travel Forecast by the GBTA Foundation. The forecast also anticipates a 6.3 percent drop in airfare and 4.1 percent drop in hotel rates. Gearing up to host the world for the Olympics, Japan is opening a series of new and revamped hotels in the mountains around Tokyo.
If you go: Don’t miss the temples and hot springs. The luxury KAI Alps Ryokan recently reopened near the Omachi Hot Springs in Nagano. In 2018, you can watch new Olympic venues under construction—including the Olympic Aquatics Centre, the National Stadium, and the Ariake Arena—start to take shape.
Where to Stay: You’ll feel like royalty at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo.
Denmark isn’t typically chalked up as an affordable travel destination for Americans, but the dollar goes further in 2018. As of January, Denmark’s currency was undervalued against the U.S. dollar by 6.6 percent, according to The Economist magazine’s annual Big Mac Index currency comparison tool. And, although airfare and hotel rates are expected to jump more than 3 percent across the globe this year, they’ll likely fall about a percentage point in Denmark, notes the 2018 Global Travel Forecast.
If you go: Head to Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens for special 175th anniversary events in 2018. Flights to the Denmark capital are surprisingly reasonable—a recent Airfarewatchdog search for round-trip flights turned up fares like $502 from Seattle in May, $444 from New York’s JFK in May and June, $399 from Boston in April and May, and $421 from Los Angeles in April.
Where to Stay: Stay right on the water at the 71 Nyhavn Hotel.
A strong dollar will take you deeper into Brazil’s colorful culture this year, giving you more chances to make your dollar go further while embracing iconic experiences like Copacabana Beach, samba shows, and even World Cup soccer mania. Although Russia is hosting the FIFA World Cup in June, Brazil is the top-ranked favorite, and is sure to draw game-day crowds watching from sunny plazas and bar stools throughout Brazil. This year, the country has loosened travel visa restrictions for Americans, dropping the cost from $160 to $40. Relatively steep declines of 8.7 percent are expected in the country’s 2018 hotel prices. The Global Travel Forecast projection coincides with a booming hotel market in Brazil, where both Hilton and Accor Hotels recently announced expansion plans.
If you go: Tour the national soccer team’s Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. An Airfarewatchdog search found round-trip flights to Rio from Miami for $597 in May and Boston for $716 in April.
This year, New Zealand’s currency is undervalued by 14.6 percent compared to the greenback, which means you can have fun imagining everything is on sale at 14 percent off. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan who hasn’t seen the Hobbiton movie set or you’re a nature lover longing to soak in New Zealand’s geothermal mud baths, then 2018 is the year to go to make your dollar go further. Over the next six months, you’ll likely score hotel deals: Airfarewatchdog search data found the average three-star hotel rate in Auckland was $95 per night during that period. Round-trip flights to Auckland start at $726 from San Francisco in May and August and $742 from Houston in June.
If you go: Before you go, watch episode one of BBC’s new Blue Planet II nature documentary miniseries, which debuted in the U.S. in January. It features bottlenose dolphins and rare false killer whales that swim together in the waters off the north coast of New Zealand each spring.
Where to Stay: The Oaks Auckland Harbour offers sweeping ocean views.
You need not be a professional haggler to score at Morocco’s marketplaces this year; the 2018 Global Travel Forecast is projecting Moroccan currency to depreciate 7.7 percent against the dollar. The strong dollar will go further in the narrow alleys of the souks in 2018 and, according to the forecast, getting to Morocco will also be cheaper. Experts foresee a 7.4 percent drop in hotel rates and 5.8 percent drop in airfare. For March travel, Airfarewatchdog listed flights from Washington, D.C., to Casablanca for $750 round-trip.
If you go: Skip Marrakech and make your dollar go further by visiting the mosques and medinas in Casablanca instead. “Casa,” as locals call it, is one of TripAdvisor’s 2018 Top 10 Destinations on the Rise. Visitors say it’s Morocco’s most cosmopolitan, Western-feeling city.
Get a beer for only 16 cents per glass in Vietnam’s capital city, ranked the world’s cheapest city to visit in 2018. Price of Travel’s 2018 Backpacker Index listed Vietnam’s Hanoi (#1) and Hoi An (#4) on the annual index of 138 international cities listed from cheapest to most expensive. In Hanoi, get your fill of pho soup and street food between visits to markets and little temples, or sit down at a tourist restaurant where the average meal is under $3. Three-star hotels averag $17 to $55 a night, according to the index. This year the 2018 Global Travel Forecast sees Vietnam’s currency depreciating 7.6 percent against the dollar and airfares dropping 6.3 percent.
If you go: Stay at Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa, ranked #4 on TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travellers’ Choice Top 25 Hotels in the World. On the northeast coast, the Quang Ninh province is the 2018 National Tourism Year host with 51 cultural, sports, and tourism events scheduled.
Where to Stay: Experience Hanoi at the iconic Hilton Hanoi Opera.
Plan your Costa Rica yoga or surf retreat, or book a beach escape in 2018 while the country’s currency is valued 23.7 percent less than the dollar. The Global Travel Forecast expects it to depreciate another 4 percent, making this a good time to make every dollar go further. You’ll get the most for your money in San Jose, which ranks as the #6 cheapest South and Central American city on the 2018 Backpacker Index. Or fly into Liberia in the Guanacaste region, a mid-priced beach area. According to a recent Airfarewatchdog search, three-star hotels in Liberia average $72 per night over the next six months.
If you go: There’s lots to do in San Jose, the country’s capital city that sits at number six on TripAdvisor’s 2018 Top Destinations on the Rise list. Tour the coffee plantations on the city’s outskirts and try fresh-roasted beans at the central market. The new gastronomy market in the city’s Barrio Escalante is worth a stop before you head into the tropical rainforest for ziplining and hiking.
Where to Stay: Live the gilded life at the Hotel Grano de Oro San Jose.
Now more than ever, Latin America’s tourist destinations are offering rich experiences that rival Europe—all for a lot less coin thanks to undervalued currencies. The Argentine peso is undervalued by 25 percent against the strong dollar and predicted to fall 7.7 percent in 2018. Buenos Aires is a bargain compared to Barcelona. And its classic architecture, cafe-lined streets, esteemed museums, and foodie scene are no less enchanting.
If you go: You can find nightly rates of $90 at three-star hotels in Buenos Aires in the next six months. Most people only daytrip from Buenos Aires to the iconic Iguazu Falls, but this year you can overnight at the new Awasi Iguazu lodge in the rainforest near the falls.
Of the countries listed here, the dollar goes furthest in Mexico. The peso is undervalued by 51.3 percent, according to The Economist’s 2018 Big Mac Index. Hotels and flights are also affordable. The average price for a three-star hotel in Puerto Vallarta over the next six months is $92 per night. In Mexico City it’s $104, according to Airfarewatchdog search data. Flights into Mexico City are a particularly good deal: Search data uncovered $224 round-trip flights from Los Angeles in March, $206 from Orlando in March, $263 from Baltimore in March and April, and $230 from Houston in April and May.
If you go: This year, check out special events and the innovative design in Mexico City, named the 2018 World Design Capital. Also try the new space-age Izzzleep Hotel sleep pods in Mexico City International Airport.
Where to Stay: Five-star stays at the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City.
More from SmarterTravel:
- How to Make Your Dream Vacation an Affordable Vacation
- 8 Unexpectedly Affordable Vacations to Take in 2018
- 10 Most Intriguing Destinations for 2018
Jamie Moore is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel. Her articles have appeared on USA Today, Yahoo Travel, Huffington Post, and WestJet.