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Travelling Abroad on Today's Dollar - From FoxBusiness.com
They say a dollar won’t go as far as it used to, and now that’s especially true if you’re traveling abroad.

Travel is On Topic at FOXBusiness.com in April. From tips on booking cheap vacation destinations to flying with your pets, we explore your top travel ideas. Check back throughout the month to find out what you need to know.

But a weak dollar isn’t as problematic as you think. There are great deals to be had in travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Asia, and even in Europe. So leave your currency concerns at the border--here are ten ways to plan an international vacation that won’t break the bank and will have you packing your passport.

The Caribbean
With its picturesque white sand beaches and sparkling surf, a trip to just about any island in the Caribbean will make you feel like you’ve traveled a long way from home. Yet the region’s close proximity to the U.S., heavy inventory of hotel rooms, and widespread acceptance of the dollar guarantees you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

Bill Potuchek, owner of Dream Vacations in Connecticut, says he likes Aruba best for beach vacations.  "Aruba experienced a drop in tourism after the Holloway situation, but this year tourism has come back,” he said.  “It’s up from last year, but the prices are reasonable.”

And Aruba’s not the only option; there are several great vacation spots in the Caribbean Islands, and many of the more popular places will accept your dollars. Many of the countries that don’t take American money have currencies that are tied to the dollar. Gabe Saglie, senior editor of Travelzoo.com, says those dollar-dependant currencies keep the islands affordable.  

“In places like Aruba, the Bahamas and Barbados, the steadiness of those currencies makes travel there very affordable,” Saglie said.

And because of the abundance of all-inclusive properties in the Caribbean, it’s easy to pay up front at a pre-negotiated rate so you don’t have to worry about later fluctuations in currency.

Mexico is always an affordable getaway no matter where the dollar’s value lands. Popular resort towns like Cancun, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, have recently added luxury hotels and resorts. The increased competition in these areas helps keep hotel prices reasonable. Many of these hotels will also take payment in dollars, making trips to the region affordable.

“Cancun was chosen specifically by the Mexican government to be developed as sort of a tourist mecca, which is why there is the glut of hotels,” said David Lytle, the editorial director for Frommers.com.

Anita Pagliasso, owner of Ticket to Travel in Los Angeles, Ca. said now these hotels are offering golf and luxury spa packages for groups and couples, so they’re becoming more popular than ever before. And if you’re into visiting historic places, the ancient ruins at Macchu Picchu and Tulum are just short day trips from many of the larger resorts. 

It’s also important to note that as of October 1, 2007, passports became mandatory for all U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico. American tourists should make sure they have a passport before they book a trip south of the border.

No matter what the current exchange rate is, all of the experts say China is an incredible value for Western travelers.

“China is a bargain,” Lytle says. “For fewer than $100 a day--before taxes and fees--you can get airfare, accommodations and an escorted tour for a ten-day vacation--and the extra day-to-day costs are not outrageous.”

The Chinese government has worked to promote tourism to the country by constructing hotels and resorts that welcome the Western traveler.  

“China is still basking in its relatively recent appeal to the Western traveler and now it’s a viable vacation destination,” Saglie said. “They’ve made a huge investment to attract large numbers of Americans.”

Whether you’re interested in walking the Great Wall or shopping until you drop in a busy metropolis, China offers an unforgettable experience at unbeatable rates.

Exotic destinations like Bali in Indonesia or Vietnam in Indochina can be very affordable if you’re careful to stick to your budget. Although flights are extremely expensive (sometimes as much as $2,000 roundtrip), airfare is often the most expensive part of the trip. Travel experts say that newer resort properties have been built to attract Westerners, and accommodations and incidental expenses are often very cheap. Frommer’s expert David Lytle recommends travel to Bali. 

“It’s an idyllic little country, and because it’s a peaceful Hindu nation, you’ll find some of the warmest people on the planet,” he said.

Lytle has found accommodations in Bali for under $100 a day, which helps balance out the high costs of airfare.

“The dollar goes really far in Bali, so if you set a budget and you figure airfare is eating up the biggest chunk of it, you can still budget for $100-$150 a day,” he said.

Saglie says countries like Vietnam that were once seen as “taboo” or exotic destinations for American travelers have now become viable vacation destinations.

“India and Southeast Asia are more accessible and affordable than ever before,” he said. “Places like Vietnam where the dollar is very strong are growing in popularity and they welcome the Western traveler.”

Because of recent incidents involving terrorism in Indonesia, it is important to check the safety of the area before traveling there. You can contact the U.S. State Department for more information.  

Eastern Europe
The dollar may be weak in countries tied to the euro, but it’s still very strong in many of the Eastern European nations.  Places like Poland, Slovenia, Croatia and Turkey can be very reasonable and they make a great alternative to some of the more crowded and expensive destinations in Western Europe.

“The dollar is pretty strong throughout most of Eastern Europe and countries that aren’t tied to the euro” says Saglie.  “These places are targeting the Western traveler right now and they’re great because there’s a great mix of old culture with emerging modernity.”

Lytle says that places like Prague in the Czech Republic have established themselves as popular tourist destinations. Now, other Eastern European cities are vying to be considered “the next Prague,” so they’re offering great rates to attract new visitors.

Argentina, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
Trips to Ecuador can be very convenient; the nation’s currency is the U.S. dollar, so you don’t have to worry about a high exchange rate. This tropical paradise on the equator offers great beach weather from January until April, hiking opportunities up volcanic peaks, treks through exotic jungles and amazing snorkeling opportunities in the Galapagos Islands. Robin Paschall, a travel agent with Adventures Within Reach in Boulder, Co. says it’s a fantastic place to vacation if you’re into adventure trips.

“The prices for trips to Ecuador don’t fluctuate much because both countries use the dollar and there are ample opportunities for trekking and Eco-tourism,” Paschall said.

Roundtrip flights to Quito, the capitol city, often run as little as $600 during peak tourism season, if you book early, making Ecuador an affordable and convenient international vacation. 

Argentina is another good choice for those who want the feel of Europe, at the price of South America.

“A lot of South America is very accessible to American travelers who are worried about fluctuations in the dollar,” Lytle said. “Argentina stands out because it packs serious bang for your buck and Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America, with great architecture and culture.”
Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2008 5:26 PM by Nick Fong
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