U.S. dollars will take you far these days. Get your passport ready and check out these ideas for inexpensive travel out of the country.
There has rarely been a time in recent decades when the U.S. dollar was as strong against as many of the world’s major currencies as it is right now. Among the consequences is that the greenback stretches a whole lot further when traveling abroad.
A look at recent exchange rates tells the story. As of mid-March 2017, a Canadian dollar will only cost you 74 U.S. cents. Since the UK’s “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union, the U.S. dollar also has strengthened compared with European currencies — it takes only US$1.22 to buy one British pound and $1.06 for one Euro.
Meanwhile, the Mexican peso has been hammered in recent years, dropping to just 5.1 U.S. cents, down from 7.5 U.S. cents three years ago. Looked at another way, you get almost 20 Mexican pesos for an American dollar now.
All of that means you can get some really great deals right now on trips to Canada, Mexico and cities in Europe. So make sure your passport is up to date — and take a look at these five vacation deals outside the United States.
1. Whistler, British Columbia
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As one of North America’s biggest ski resorts — both in terms of the numbers of ski runs, as well as shopping, accommodation and entertainment — Whistler, British Columbia, is not normally a place where you can get a cheap holiday.
As of mid-March, however, Expedia was showing round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Vancouver (the nearest major airport to Whistler, two hours’ drive north on Canada’s West Coast) for as low as $450 (on American Airlines). You can find even cheaper deals if you are willing to fly to Seattle, rent a car and then drive to Whistler and back (it’s about a five-hour drive from Seattle to Whistler).
Meanwhile, Whistler’s website was offering “Stay and Ski” packages — including lift tickets that normally cost C$145 per day as well as accommodation at the upscale Crystal Lodge & Suites — for C$139 per person per night (or US$102) based on staying five nights and skiing for four days. And a round trip shuttle from Vancouver International Airport cost C$128 (or US$94.72) per person.
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One of the U.S. cities from which it’s cheapest to fly to London has traditionally been New York. That’s still the case.
A flight search in on Priceline.com in mid-March for a departure from New York to London on April 1, 2017, and a return on April 12, 2017, turns up a price of just $614 per person on American Airlines.
Accommodations offer travelers even more savings. In mid-March, Booking.com offered 11 nights at the Hampstead Britannia hotel in the trendy Camden neighborhood of London for only $1,259 (or $114.46 per night).
3. Cancun, Mexico
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You would expect that the cost of Mexico flights and hotels would be driven lower by the weak peso, and you would be right. In mid-March, Justfly.com showed a return flight between Dallas and Cancun (leaving on April 1 and returning on April 9) for $395.33.
And Booking.com offered eight nights at the waterfront Sina Suites Hotel for $1,237 (or about $155 per night). Package deals for two — with hotel and flight — on Expedia.com yielded similar results (around $2,100 for hotel and flights).
Note that the cost of flights and hotels don’t tell the whole story about a trip to Mexico with the current high-value dollar, because the U.S. currency’s strength means that it will get you more of everything, including restaurants, excursions and tours.
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It costs a little less to enjoy the City of Light right now.
In terms of flights, the cheapest way to get to Paris still appears to be via Reykjavik, Iceland — where you’ll need to make a stopover in order to get the best deal.
But, if you do, you’ll be able to get from Los Angeles to Paris for $696 on WOW Air (via Justfly.com).
Meanwhile, one of the best hotel deals we saw was the Hipark Design Suites La Villette — where a room for 11 nights in the first week of April was available for $968 — or $88 per night.
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If you want a taste of something French, but with a Canadian twist, then try Montreal. The American dollar is even stronger against the Canadian dollar than it is against the Euro. And you can get to Montreal a whole lot faster than you can get to Paris.
Say you depart from Detroit, for example — you can get a return flight to Montreal in the first week of April for as little as $548 on Delta (booked directly from the Delta Airlines website).
Meanwhile, in mid-March, Delta Hotels by Marriott Montreal (when booked through Booking.com) was offering a room for the first week of April for $894 for seven nights ($127.72 a night).
Where do you want to go now that the stronger U.S. dollar can make it a bit cheaper? Share in comments below or on our Facebook page.