A great exchange rate is a huge advantage as you plan a budget trip.
If the currency in your destination country is falling against your home currency, prices for your hotel, meals, transportation, and even souvenirs will be discounted before the merchants offer any additional savings.
When practical, it makes sense to add these money-saving countries to your itinerary. Just keep in mind that the savings you pocket this year might not exist in those same destinations next year or five years from now. The list of places with great exchange rates will change, sometimes rapidly.
In choosing 10 places where the exchange rates are favorable against the U.S. dollar, we consulted xe.com and its helpful historical archive of rates. The countries listed here have a three-year history of falling currencies against the U.S. dollar. This pattern represents sustained savings rather than just a momentary blip that is likely to vanish before you can buy non-refundable airline tickets.
Some of these countries are on the U.S. State Department's list of warnings and alerts. Destinations with pending notices are noted.
Savvy readers will find countries not on this list that have experienced even greater drops against the USD. The intent is not necessarily to identify this week's best exchange bargains, but rather to introduce new places that offer not only favorable exchange rates, but sometimes undiscovered beauty.
Ukraine: USD has Gained 44.7%
The Ukrainian hryvnia has lost nearly 45 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past three years. Much of that can be attributed to economic troubles tied to political turmoil.
The U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings for selected areas of Ukraine—disputed territories that the Russian Federation has occupied. It’s best to stay away from these hot spots. These include Crimea, and the eastern sections of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
But other parts of Ukraine generally are safe to visit. Kyiv, (Kiev) for example, is the nation’s capital and a proud city that most European tourists never see. It offers some modest hotel rates and sites such as the Perchersk Lavra, a monastery area perched along the banks of the Dnipro River. The upper sites include cathedrals and museums, while the lower sites take visitors through a series of caves that have sheltered monks for generations.
This most popular of tourist attractions can be seen for modest admission fees that are made still cheaper for Americans because of a favorable exchange rate.
Haiti: USD has Gained 28.1%
Like Ukraine, Haiti has experienced widespread troubles in its recent history. The travel advisory here is at a level three, which in U.S. State Department terms is a call to “reconsider travel plans.” Much of the caution is due to crime and civil unrest, but it’s possible to visit Haiti safely with some precautions.
The U.S. dollar has gained 28 percent against the Haitian gourde in the past three years. In a nation already beset with problems, this is one more layer of difficulty.
But visitors from the United States can spend their dollars without converting to gourdes. Dollars are attractive because they represent a relatively stable currency. Be certain the dollar price fits with current exchange rates.
Many trips to Haiti are humanitarian in nature, but the country boasts some beautiful mountain ranges and coastlines. For example, Côte des Arcadins attracts visitors with beaches, mountains, arts communities and seaside resorts.
Paraguay: USD has Gained 16.3%
Paraguay's guaraní is the most undervalued currency in the Americas against the U.S. dollar, and at this writing, it requires more than 5,600 guarani to equal $1 USD.
That price represents more than 16 percent in losses against the USD in the past three years. That might attract some additional tourists to this South American nation, which often fails to enjoy the popularity of some of its neighbors.
Encarnacion hosts a colorful carnivale celebration each year, and to the south, the magnificent San Rafael National Park is home to more than 400 species of birds and a long list of endangered species.
Nicaragua: USD has Gained 13.6%
If Paraguay is among the least-visited countries of South America, that title in Central America might belong to Nicaragua.
Frequently ranked among the least-expensive countries in the region, there is now an added exchange benefit for U.S. travelers: the cordoba has fallen nearly 14 percent in the past three years vs. the U.S. dollar.
There are places that will accept USD for payment, but for smaller purchases in rural areas, the cordoba is king.
The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for Nicaragua, based mostly on high rates of violent crime in cities such as the capital of Managua.
Budget travelers note the relatively low rates for hotels and meals. In addition, tipping rarely is expected in Nicaragua.
Philippines: USD has Gained 10.7%
In the Philippines, the peso has declined more than 10 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past three years.
This island nation sometimes presents logistical travel problems, and there is a U.S. State Department travel warning connected to Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao due to the threats of crime and terrorism.
But across the Sulu Sea is the island of Palawan, which attracts tourists ready to enjoy the El Nido beaches, ranked fourth in the world in a recent Conde Nast survey of travelers. Surprisingly, the area is not overrun with visitors, and it's possible to find secluded beauty in this scenic stretch of coastline.
Namibia: USD has Gained 8.3%
The Namibian dollar is a relative bargain compared to three years ago, when it was more than eight percent more expensive for U.S. travelers.
Few tourists make it to Namibia, which must compete with popular neighbor South Africa for attention. South Africa has many more large airports and major cities to attract visitors. Namibia offers natural beauty and comparatively little in the way of tourist amenities.
There are fine rewards for those willing to venture into Namibia. Namib-Naukluft National Park, on the country's Atlantic coast, is filled with spectacular desert landscapes. Pack plenty of water and a camera. The desert roads offer few outposts but scenic beauty at every turn.
New Zealand: USD has Gained 8%
New Zealand has earned its reputation as one of the world's most scenic countries, but visiting can be quite expensive. Airfares from the U.S. are too high for many budget travelers.
Those who snag an affordable airfare will be rewarded with gorgeous vistas, friendly residents, and a bargain exchange rate. The New Zealand dollar has fallen about eight percent against the U.S. dollar in the past three years.
In addition to its vibrant major cities of Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand is known for smaller spots such as Queenstown, which is a relatively new favorite of backpackers. Queenstown provides a growing array of bargain accommodations and terrain that lends itself to hiking and a host of other outdoor adventure activities.
Indonesia: USD has Gained 7.9%
Indonesia is the world's fourth-most-populated nation, a fact that surprises many geographically challenged travelers. The Indonesian archipelago consists of more than 17,000 islands, some of which are densely populated. The U.S. State Department advises avoiding trouble spots, such as the civil unrest in Central Sulawesi and Papua.
American travelers will find a three-year savings of nearly eight percent in exchanging U.S. dollars for rupiah, the official currency of Indonesia.
Bali attracts the most visitors, but budget travelers willing to explore other parts of Indonesia discover places such as the Komodo Islands, where you'll observe the famous namesake lizards and also enjoy great diving and snorkeling opportunities.
Peru: USD has Gained 7.5%
Macchu Pichu in Peru adorns many an American traveler's bucket list, and why not? The scenic beauty and fascinating history on display here is hard to top.
But Peru offers much more that often goes undiscovered.
Peru offers much variety and occasional bargain airfares. More good news: the Peruvian sol is more than seven percent cheaper against the U.S. dollar than travelers were paying three years ago.
Canada: USD has Gained 4.8%
The Canadian dollar has lost nearly five percent against the USD in the past three years, but the bigger gains for Americans are seen in a ten-year span. In the past decade, the U.S. dollar has gained 19.2 percent against its Canadian counterpart.
Canada offers some of the world’s most spectacular scenery, and world-class cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Free admission to Canadian national parks was a one-year offer (2017), but those modest rates are well worth paying in that they provide access to world-famous places such as Banff and Bay of Fundy. Some outstanding Canadian national parks are within relatively short drives of major U.S. cities.
Another great place to visit is Quebec City, the provincial capital along the shores of the St. Lawrence. Its narrow streets and historic architecture have led to promotions such as “visit Europe without the jet lag.” The city features a nice selection of small hotels that are both economical and centrally located.