Looking to score a cheap vacation this summer? Keeping an eye on where you can get the most bang for your U.S. buck is one way to keep costs low and value high. Here are eight places where the buying power of the U.S. dollar is on the rise. (Learn how to cash in on currency fluctuations in Profit From Forex With Currency ETFs.)
In Pictures: Vacation Savings Tips
In the past two years, the dollar rose from 1.5 to 1.9 Fiji dollars (FJD). The dollar peaked at almost 2.25 FJD in April of 2009 but has since retreated. Even with the fall over the past twelve months, the U.S. dollar remains well above 2008 levels and year-to-date has risen slightly. Fiji is located in the South Pacific; its main islands are Viti Levu and Venua Levu. (You can see Fiji and other exotic locales without breaking the bank. Read Globetrotting On A Budget to find out more.)
In the past two years, the dollar has fluctuated between roughly 140 and 250 Hungarian forint (HUF). Even after surrendering much of its gains in 2009, the dollar still hovers around 200 HUF, which is well over the 160 HUF it was worth in April 2008. Budapest is the country's most popular tourist destination.
3. Czech Republic
Although the chart of the dollar against the Czech koruna (CZK) does not look too good over the past twelve months, the dollar has done well in the three-month, six-month and two-year holding periods. Since April 2008, the dollar has risen from below 15 to just under 24 CZK. The Czech Republic is home to Prague, one of Europe's most popular destinations for tourists.
In April 2008, the dollar was valued near five Norwegian krones (NOK); it is now worth approximately six NOK. The interim has been full of peaks and valleys. After sliding for most of 2009, the dollar has managed to climb in both the three and six-month holding periods. Norway's landscape makes it a popular destination for hikers and skiers.
The dollar is off its two-year high of 8.82 Moroccan dirhams (MAD), however in the past two years the dollar has risen from 7.26 to 8.28 MAD. The North African nation borders Spain and Algeria. Popular tourist destinations include Marrakesh, Tangiers and Casablanca.
Two years ago, the dollar and the Swiss franc (CHF) were even. The dollar staged an aggressive climb to over 1.2 CHF before falling below 1 CHF in December 2009. Since then, the dollar has risen to about 1.065 CHF. Switzerland is widely known for its mountainous Alpine region.
7. Dominican Republic
Between 2002 and 2004, the U.S. dollar leapt from 16.23 to 51 Dominican pesos (DOP). Recent gains are far less pronounced, but over the past two years, the dollar has charted a steady climb against the Dominican peso, rising from around 32 to 36.4 DOP per dollar. Popular destinations within the country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, include Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo and Punta Cana.
8. Trinidad and Tobago
This nation composed of several islands is widely known for its national Carnival festival held each February. The U.S. dollar hit a low of 6.0255 Trinidad and Tobago dollars (TTD) in August 2008, but has since recovered. Year to date, the dollar has fallen slightly, but in the past six months, the U.S. dollar has risen from 6.185 TTD to 6.35 TTD.
Outsmart Holiday Spending
Since vacations can get pretty pricey and the dollar is always on the move, it is good to pay attention to currency rates. However, currency rates should be just one of several factors used to plot your next international excursion. A cheaper destination may save money, but other factors which you may not want to sacrifice include safety, amenities and convenience of travel arrangements. (Find out more in The Basics Of Travel Insurance, Travel Smart By Planning How You'll Pay and Travel Tips For Keeping You And Your Money Safe.)
While you ponder your next vacation destination, here are a couple of places where your dollars will not go very far: Canada and the Eurozone.
Check out last week's business highlights in Water Cooler Finance: My iPad Beats Your Toyota.