Updated October 19, 2016
So where’s the US dollar worth the most?
The website Saving For Travel has a handy tool to help travelers know what expenses will be like (on average for budget travelers) in different countries around the world. Another good site for budgeting your expenses is Numbeo.com – use it to compare the cost of staple items in different countries.
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Generally speaking, U.S. dollars tend to deliver the best results in places like Central America, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe, where the cost of living is lower.
If you’d rather skip to a ready-made backpacking budget check out this post comparing estimated and real-life budgets for 6 destinations around the world from our travel producer’s 40-day around-the-world itinerary.
The top 12 countries to visit with American dollars and average daily expenditures:
- India: $18 – Curry, colorful textiles, masala chai – the dollar buys all of the above and lots of rupees.
- Laos: $18 – It’s more developed with every new backpacker but Laos is still insanely cheap for people looking in the right places. Sidestep the crowds by going south.
- Myanmar: $19 – Hot on many a traveler’s top 10 list, the nation formerly known as Burma’s a must-go destination.
- Cambodia: $19 – the Cambodian currency is widely sidelined for the dollar, but that dollar will go a long way.
- Indonesia: $19 – Stay away from Bali and things are particularly easy on the pocketbook.
- Bolivia: $19 – the dollar has held steady here, so trust in affordable prices and start exploring ancient ruins that predate the Incas.
- Honduras: $19 – Inexpensive diving, ecotourism and Mayan ruins — ‘nough said.
- Philippines: $19 – Beaches, history, a solid tourist infrastructure, near perfect weather give this Pacific archipelago a definite edge.
- Peru: $20 – Outside of the major tourist areas (Machu Picchu) your money’s going to go far. Try exquisitely pretty places like Puno or Arequipa.
- Vietnam: $20 – it’s still very affordable to travel in Vietnam and even cheaper to eat here: think Pho and some of the world’s best street food.
- Bulgaria: $20 – Possibly the cheapest eastern European destination with a culture and cuisine that combines the best of Greek, Slavic, Ottoman and Persian influences.
- Croatia: $21 – A growing tourist trade has made Croatia’s stunning resort towns more expensive over the last few years, but meals, accommodations and transportation are reasonable and easy to book. Direct flights are harder to find, though. Check for nonstop flights from London or Barcelona, or take the ferry from Italy!
Also on par with Bulgaria and Croatia in per day expenses: Romania, Tanzania, Ecuador. Here are a few industrialized countries’ costs for comparison:
- France: $33
- USA: $34
- UK: $43
How do exchange rates affect the affordability of destinations around the world?
It’s not always convenient, but exchange rates have a lot to do with how far your dollar will take you.
Generally speaking the more of a currency you can buy with your own the better chances you have of making it last longer in that place.
If the dollar goes into decline against foreign currencies it won’t take you as far, and vice versa. Of course there are other factors that contribute to prices and how far your money goes: special events, seasons, and politics. With Brexit and other current events in Europe, the dollar has even been making some serious headway against the Euro and the British Pound.
For further reading, pick up Tim Leffel’s book, “The World’s Cheapest Destinations, 21 countries where your dollars are worth a fortune” or check out The Cheapest Destinations Blog. Another great place to check out for inexpensive destinations is Budget Travel Magazine.
Know a great destination to stretch your dollars? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you.