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Destinations Where Your Dollar Takes You Further

Summer travel season is officially here. Students unshackled from finals are free to roam around the world and workaday types of all sorts put in hard-earned vacation days to do some international unwinding. These foreign romps aren’t cheap and it’s important to know how far your dollar will get you wherever you’re planning to travel. A cappuccino that might cost more than five bucks in Iceland could run you less than $2.00 in Czechia.

A variety of factors affect the exchange rate and how much your dollar gets you. Exchange rates fluctuate relatively constantly, and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on whether they’re moving up or down. If your dollar is becoming more valuable in a certain country, you may want to pull the trigger on a vacation there while your buck is strong. And vice versa, waiting it out on a spot where your dollar is getting you less might help give you a lusher vacay on a smaller budget down the road.

RewardExpert looked at ten summer vacation destination countries where your dollar is getting you further and ten countries where it’s becoming less valuable. We compared exchange rates from this year and a year ago to see where your dollar increased or decreased in worth. In these locales, we used several sources to break down what you can expect to pay for drinks & dining, groceries, transit, leisure, shopping, hotels and flights so that you can better plan your next summer expedition.

Key Findings

  • In terms of an expensive trip, Iceland is #1 with a bullet. For example, a night out in Iceland is, on average, far more expensive than any other country on the list. Dinner and drinks for two at a mid-tier restaurant runs about $140.00, which is 23.1% more expensive than the second-most expensive night out, in Norway.
  • On the other end, Mexico is the cheapest vacation spot on the list. Our Southern neighbor clocks in on the bottom half of expense rankings for just about every category and is number one in terms of cheap Airbnb prices and inexpensive shopping. For the budget-conscious summer traveler, Mexico is a haven that's just a short trip away.
  • Government policy has a big effect on your traveler’s checks. Iceland’s efforts to strengthen Krona values have made the dollar 19.6% less valuable there since last year. At the same time, political currency devaluation has made the dollar 13.5% more valuable in Argentina during that twelve-month period.
  • In the past year, it’s gotten cheaper to vacation in the Western European countries on the list, but it’s still really expensive there, especially in Scandinavian countries. The dollar has become more valuable in three Western European countries (Norway, UK and Sweden) by an average of 5.6%, but countries like Sweden and Norway still are near the top of most expense categories.
  • Despite any growing relative values of the U.S. dollar, less-developed nations are still cheaper to vacation in, almost across the board. The United States, with its outsized warehouse club and e-commerce sector, has lower shopping prices than any other country. China, Czechia (formerly known as the Czech Republic), Poland and Venezuela top every other category in terms of cheap travel.
  • The more well-developed nations generally have the most expensive amenities, but don’t think that always means cheaper flights. Nations with well-funded infrastructure can leverage operating efficiency and offer cheaper airfare. South Africa, Sweden and the U.S. are three of the five cheapest in terms of flight costs per mile. The UK and Norway are also in the top 10 in the category. That said, this summer may be a good time to pull the trigger on a visit to these countries scince the dollar is working in your favor.
  • Airbnb can help save cash-strapped travelers some dough on vacations in any of our chosen summer getaway spots. On average, a rental property in the capital city of these countries runs $62 less per night than a hotel. All in all, Airbnb listings cost less than the average hotel in every country we analyzed.

10 Countries Where Your Dollar is Getting More Valuable

This ranking represents the ten countries in which the U.S. dollar has gained significant value over the last year, including a breakdown of average expenses travelers may encounter in each country. While some of these countries may not all be among the most affordable compared to other destinations we examined, this summer may be an opportune time to cross them off your bucket list, given the increased value you’ll be getting for your money.

Argentina
13.5%

Argentina

The U.S. dollar gets you nearly 15.0% more Argentine Pesos than it did last year. Known for its diverse landscapes, from the Andes Mountains, to its coastal beaches and the sunny metropolis Buenos Aires, Argentina is a mixed bag in terms of price. Flights and lodging are expensive, but finding things to do once you’re there is rather cheap.

New York (JFK) — Buenos Aires (EZE) $1,817.63*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $21.33
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$63.26 $14.41 $1.86 $28.37 $415.55 $162.46

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Click on this link to see the average costs for individual items

United Kingdom
12.1%

United Kingdom

Brexit and a handful of other factors have made the U.S. dollar about 12.1% more valuable in terms of Pounds since 2016. Clocking in at the top half of the price rankings for nearly all categories except for groceries and flights, the UK isn’t exactly a cheap getaway. But it is cheaper now than it usually is, making this summer a great time to visit.

New York (JFK) — London (LGW) $736.48*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $13.23
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$99.58 $13.70 $7.22 $25.25 $273.48 $158.60

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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China
5.2%

China

Groceries might cost you a pretty penny in China, but nearly everything else is a great value. The expansive country offers a variety of environments and historical landmarks at a low price that’s dropped a relative 5.2% since last year. Flights, in particular, are quite cheap, at just $8.6 per 100 km, which ends up adding up to just under $950 on average out of NYC. Not a bad price, given the distance.

New York (JFK) — Beijing (PEK) $944.47*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $8.60
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$34.50 $18.62 $0.83 $17.30 $261.78 $93.72

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Sweden
4.6%

Sweden

Your buck gets you 0.3% more Swedish Krona than it did in 2016, but that number is going to have to grow a lot higher for Sweden to compete with many of the other travel destinations on the list. However, on the bright side, it is the cheapest place to look for a Scandinavian getaway – just don’t let the high hotel and Airbnb costs dissuade you.

New York (JFK) — Stockholm (ARN) $509.12*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $8.06
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$105.29 $17.15 $5.65 $39.87 $374.86 $174.27

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Canada
3.0%

Canada

A host of household debt and housing concerns have devalued the Canadian dollar by 3.0% since last year, relative to the U.S. dollar. Compared to the other 19 countries in this list, Canada is the picture of an average-priced summer vacation. Per-mile flights cost more in Canada, especially in the more northern regions, but the proximity to major domestic airports makes it the cheapest place to fly in total. The Great White North is in the middle quartile in nearly all other cost categories.

New York (JFK) — Ottawa (YOW) $274.11*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $38.71
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$77.80 $17.05 $4.52 $24.97 $237.68 $149.10

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Japan
1.5%

Japan

The U.S. dollar has gained 1.5% on the Japanese Yen over the past year, which is helpful for travelers jaunting to the Land of the Rising Sun. A night out in Japan is not too expensive, but just about every other category ranks in the top half of the countries examined. Flights to Japan, the mountainous island nation that is relatively difficult to get to, are more expensive than any other country, at a whopping $41.5 per 100/km.

New York (JFK) — Tokyo (NRT) $4,497.33*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $41.48
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$60.21 $24.08 $6.52 $31.76 $273.10 $139.70

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Mexico
0.6%

Mexico

A flight down to Mexico, one of the two closest countries on the list, is the second-cheapest of the 20. And once travelers get there, the night is theirs. Dinner and drinks for two runs an average of $37.06, third to China and Czechia on the list. The Mexican Peso has gotten 0.6% less valuable relative to the U.S. dollar since 2016, making that cheap night out even cheaper.

New York (JFK) — Mexico (MEX) $455.40*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $32.00
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$42.19 $10.61 $1.69 $7.57 $302.96 $143.12

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Singapore
0.3%

Singapore

Singapore is a major financial center for the eastern world. The U.S. dollar has gained 0.3% on its Singaporean counterpart over the past year, making it cheaper to travel there. A heavily urban country, well-established transit lines and high hotel prices typify the travel experience in this world-famous healthcare marvel.

New York (JFK) — Singapore (SIN) $1,987.34*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $12.97
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$73.96 $21.14 $1.93 $19.34 $290.05 $162.91

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Norway
0.3%

Norway

Similar to the aforementioned Sweden, Norway isn’t exactly a cheap place to travel. Flights there are middle of the road, but Norway is at most number 5 in all other categories. The 0.3% gain the U.S. dollar has made on the Norwegian Krone is particularly expensive given the high travel prices there.

New York (JFK) — Oslo (OSL) $1,014.94*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $17.17
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$150.65 $22.64 $6.76 $46.79 $397.45 $170.20

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Hong Kong
0.2%

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong dollar has only become slightly less valuable relative to the U.S. currency over the past five years. A strong Hong Kong economy has kept these currencies mainly stable. Most notably, hotels in this densely packed nation are tough on a traveler’s pockets. However, Airbnb prices there are about half as expensive as hotels, saving travelers the largest expense on their trip.

New York (JFK) — Tsuen Wan (HKG) $1.640.00*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $21.33
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$71.53 $26.30 $2.93 $20.26 $317.25 $163.55

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Where your dollar is getting less valuable

This ranking represents the ten countries in which the U.S. dollar has lost significant value over the last year, including a breakdown of average expenses travelers may encounter in each country. Nonetheless, some of these countries may still be among the most affordable out of the twenty countries we examined.

Iceland
19.6%

Iceland

Now is not the time to travel to Iceland for a budget vacation. An incredible rebound in the Icelandic Krona, even with removed capital controls, has boosted its value against the U.S. dollar by 19.6%. The often out-of-the-way island nation is expensive to transport items to and from, which boosts costs all along the supply chain. Eating out in Iceland is nearly 20.0% more expensive than any other country on this list.

New York (JFK) — Reykjavik (KEF) $530.70*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $12.62
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$180.29 $26.45 $8.44 $44.54 $697.20 $172.24

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Click on this link to see the average costs for individual items

South Africa
16.9%

South Africa

A strong, but volatile, South African Rand has gained 16.9% against the U.S. dollar over the year, despite recent slippage. Even with this currency surge, South Africa is one of the cheapest countries on this list to travel to. It’s the cheapest country in terms of per-mile flights and the third-cheapest to sleep in, which more than makes up for its average costs for a night out.

New York (JFK) — Cape Town (CPT) $920.48*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $7.33
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$52.65 $11.75 $2.30 $12.15 $253.98 $118.16

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Brazil
9.6%

Brazil

Don’t let the recent plunge fool you, the Brazilian Real has become 9.6% more valuable against the dollar over the past year. Hotel prices are propped up by high real estate prices in cities like Rio, but this South American gem places in the bottom half of all other categories in expensiveness. Travelers looking to cut some of the high hotel costs can shift spending over to Airbnb, which costs more than $100 less per night on average.

New York (JFK) — Brasília (BSB) $674.76*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $9.86
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$51.68 $12.95 $2.53 $35.94 $281.26 $159.6

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Israel
7.4%

Israel

The Shekel to dollar ratio has grown to a three-year high in recent weeks, growing 7.4% since 2016. Tight pricing controls and trade restrictions have propped up prices across the board in Israel. Still, regardless of this pricing control, only eating out and getting groceries ended up being in the top quarter of the expensiveness rankings, making the Jewish holy land a relatively cheaper travel destination.

New York (JFK) — Tel Aviv (TLV) $1.697.00*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $18.52
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$96.07 $19.14 $3.45 $26.80 $383.87 $146.29

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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South Korea
6.2%

South Korea

Relatively cyclical fluctuations for the South Korean Won versus the U.S. dollar have ended up on a negative note for domestic travelers. A post-election boon for the Won has pushed up the currency even further, to a 6.2% growth against the dollar, since 2016. Groceries may be pretty expensive in South Korea, but everything else is on the cheaper end, even with the currency appreciation.

New York (JFK) — Seoul (ICN) $1,915.19*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $17.34
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$58.33 $27.17 $2.84 $19.63 $311.33 $131.52

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Poland
4.8%

Poland

The Zloty has gained 4.8% against the U.S. dollar over the past year. The large Eastern European country is among the cheapest of any destinations we examined. A night out, for example, with dinner and drinks for two costs an average of less than $30.00. And to eat in, groceries cost less than any other examined country.

New York (JFK) — Warsaw (WAW) $620.55*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $9.06
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$42.29 $8.74 $1.85 $19.04 $252.07 $112.92

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Chile
4.2%

Chile

The Chilean peso’s strength over the past year has boosted its relative value in respect to the U.S. dollar by 4.2% since 2016. Cheap food, leisure and shopping more than make up for the more expensive flights that are common to and from the mountainous and deep south nation.

New York (JFK) — Santiago (SCL) $2.014.96*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $24.43
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$50.07 $12.92 $3.40 $24.31 $238.57 $154.17

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Australia
3.3%

Australia

The island nation of Australia is far away from Western travelers, but definitely among the most coveted vacation locations. The flights to Australia run an average of $35.7 per 100km. Otherwise, prices Down Under are relatively inexpensive for domestic travelers.

New York (JFK) — Canberra (CBR) $5,787.40*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $35.69
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$94.60 $15.99 $5.54 $26.66 $320.62 $153.58

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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New Zealand
2.8%

New Zealand

The relative travel costs of a domestic gadabout in New Zealand are quite similar to those in Australia. Leisure costs are a little bit lower in New Zealand and flights and hotels are significantly cheaper, but the rest of the expense breakdown looks remarkably similar to Australia’s. Overall, a strong New Zealand Dollar has pushed down the value of the U.S. Dollar by nearly 3.0% since last year.

New York (JFK) — Wellington (WLG) $1,643.79*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $11.42
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$97.88 $17.82 $5.88 $21.69 $322.85 $133.98

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Czechia
1.9%

Czechia

Czechia, known as the Czech Republic up until quite recently, is home to the Koruna that has become 1.9% less valuable relative to the U.S. dollar over the past year. Travelers looking for a cheap place to get away should consider this Eastern European country that is amongst the cheapest of the 20 countries examined.

New York (JFK) — Prague (PRG) $765.14*
Roundtrip, Economy, 1 passenger Flight per 100/km: $11.65
Drinks & Dining Groceries Local Transit Recreation Shopping Accommodation
$36.62 $10.09 $2.71 $16.63 $257.38 $132.12

These numbers represent a total sum of various costs that fall under these categories. Check out the full table to see the individual average costs per item.

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Overall Affordability Ranking

This overall ranking indicates where travelers are most and least likely to have a budget-friendly vacation, regardless of fluctuations in exchange rates with the U.S. dollar. The dollar amounts listed represent the total average costs of expenses travelers may encounter within each country.

By default cities are sorted
by a general score. You could sort by other parameter.

# City & State Currency Valuation Total Avg. Cost of Expenses
1 Mexico 0.6% 411.14
2 China 5.2% 435.35
3 Poland 4.8% 445.97
4 South Africa 16.9% 458.32
5 Czechia 1.9% 467.20
6 Chile 4.2% 507.87
7 Canada 3.0% 549.82
8 Brazil 9.6% 553.82
9 South Korea 6.2% 568.16
10 Japan 1.5% 576.85
11 Singapore 0.3% 582.30
12 United Kingdom 12.1% 591.06
13 New Zealand 2.8% 611.52
14 Hong Kong 0.2% 611.83
15 Australia 3.3% 652.68
16 Israel 7.4% 694.14
17 Argentina 13.5% 707.24
18 Sweden 4.6% 725.15
19 Norway 0.3% 811.66
20 Iceland 19.6% 1141.78
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Methodology

We looked at exchange rates for the week of May 19th in both 2016 and 2017 to determine the 20 countries that have gained the most currency value against the dollar and the 20 that have lost the most during that year. Exchange rates were gathered with x-rates.com. Then, a number of average prices were gathered with Numbeo.com for price categories crucial to the average traveler. Every figure that was more than 10.0% above or below the average was cross-checked with either a BEA producer price index figure or an industry association, such as PintPrice.com. This allowed all outliers to be double-checked to account for potential errors in crowdsourced data from Numbeo. Hotel figures were gathered from the Hotel Price Index and flight prices were gathered from Kiwi.com’s aviation price index. Countries without flight or hotel data were gathered using approximated averages with likewise countries. Airbnb prices were gathered by zeroing in on the postal codes associated with the countries’ capitals and taking an average price. Total flight prices were gathered using the aviation price index and multiplying the average figure by the miles between New York City and the countries’ major airport hubs.