Six Travel Havens Immune to the Weak Dollar
How to go abroad without going broke
As globetrotters have been learning, the weak dollar means that traveling abroadespecially to Europehas become eye-poppingly expensive. A one-night stay in a bed and breakfast in Capri that cost $200 in 2000, for instance, would now set you back about $275. And since the dollar's devaluation extends to a broad range of foreign goods and services, once you're overseas there is often no escapethe same sticker shock applies to wine, hamburgers, sunscreen, and even souvenirs.
It's a big world, however, and shrewd travelers can escape the pain of the weak dollar while still getting a quasi-European experience. One strategy is jetting to countries that accept dollars for ordinary purchases. Staying in the Western Hemisphere helps. And prepackaged trips often help you lock in rates without having to worry about further declines in the dollar. Here are six destinations where you can revel in foreign culture without going broke.
Canada. While it lacks the Eiffel Tower or the winding Seine, Quebec City looks and feels like a French townand sounds like it too, with most residents speaking French. "It's a great alternative to Paris," says Chris McGinnis, editor of Expedia Travel Trendwatch. Only 100 miles from the U.S. border, Quebec is easy and relatively cheap to get to. Ottawa, Canada's capital, is another option, especially for travelers craving the ambience of London; it has a beautiful parliament building and plenty of outdoor pubs. While the Canadian dollar has appreciated against the U.S. dollar, it's still a bargain compared with Europe.
Mexico. Fly into Guadalajara and you'll feel like you've landed on the Mediterranean coast, with its old Spanish architecture and nearby Sierra Madre mountain range. "It's relatively unknown to Americans, but pretty accessible," McGinnis says. New five-star hotels on the Yucatán Peninsula also offer great deals in the summer for those willing to face the heatthey typically cost half as much as hotels do in the winter. Amenities are great, but stick with bottled water just to be safe.
The Bahamas. Like many other Caribbean countries, Bahamian hotels, restaurants, and even street vendors often accept U.S. dollars, which means you won't lose anything in the exchange rate. The growth of low-cost air carriers into the region, including JetBlue and Spirit Airways, also makes the trip to the land of white sand and green water more affordable.
Costa Rica. With zip lines, volcanoes, beaches, and rain forests, this small, mountainous country appeals to all ages and activity levels. It's also affordable. "It's been a good buy for a long time," says Mary Peters, president of Friendly Travel American Express.
Argentina. While this South American hot spot would have been even cheaper a year ago, it's still a good deal for Americans. The capital, Buenos Aires, offers a European experience for a fraction of the price. A nice dinner featuring the country's famous beef and wine costs about $15a steal even by American standards.
A cruise ship. Whether you head to Antarctica or eastern Europe, travelers on cruises pay most of their costs upfront in U.S. dollars, which protects them from steep exchange rates. Some cruise lines have already published their prices for next year, so buying now would protect travelers if the dollar falls further.