Good news for American globetrotters -- you can see the world on the cheap right now. The U.S. dollar is having a moment: Since the beginning of 2015, the dollar has risen 14 percent against the euro, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. It’s on track for its strongest quarterly performance against the European common currency since 2008, reports Marketwatch.
That means it’s the perfect time to plan a trip to far-flung lands, where greenbacks will go a lot further today than they have in the recent past. Even better, international hotel rates are down 7 percent in 2015, reports TripAdvisor. In Europe, the decline is even steeper: The average European hotel rate has fallen 9 percent since 2014.
Not sure where to go? Here’s where you’ll save big:
Go ahead and make like Clark Griswold: Plan that European vacation. Countries like Italy and France have always been favorites for American travelers, and trips there hardly come cheap. That’s why if they’ve always been on your wish list, now’s the time to make it happen.
Travel to the eurozone -- the 19 countries on the common currency that include Austria, Germany, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain -- is about 20 percent cheaper today than it was a year ago. That’s because the dollar is nearly at parity with the euro ($1.08 buys you 1 euro today). So a hotel room in Paris at 300 euros a night would have been about $417 in the past. Today, you can nab that same room for $308.
Round-trip median airfare from the U.S. to Europe is $1,132. Want the cheapest flights? Plan your trip so that you leave on a Wednesday and return on a Thursday, according to data from Kayak’s 2015 Travel Hacker Guide.
Countries like Norway and Sweden are popular destinations, and not just because of the popularity of Disney’s hit animated movie “Frozen.” It’s become a lot cheaper to visit these typically pricey destinations. Hotel prices in Norway are down 17 percent this year, while Sweden’s hotel rates have dropped by 19 percent, reports TripAdvisor. And round-trip tickets from New York to Oslo are as low as $556, according to Hopper’s Flight Explorer tool. Round-trip fares from New York to Stockholm were starting at $585.
The Russian ruble hit a record low in December, when it was trading at about 80 rubles to the U.S. dollar. A trip to Russia would have been dirt-cheap at the time -- but who wants to visit in the dead of winter? The currency has bounced back a bit since then, now at 58 rubles to the dollar, but for American travelers, you’ll still save, considering that about a year ago one dollar would have gotten you only 35 rubles.
Couple the favorable exchange rate with hotels offering deep discounts, and it’s a “double bonus,” says Andrey Zakharenko, owner of Russian Connections, which specializes in arranging travel to Russia. “It’s unheard-of value.”
Zakharenko has seen five-star hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg that normally go for $500 a night offering rooms as low as $200 to $300. And many hotels are throwing in bonuses, like a third night free. Flights are cheaper, too: Round-trip tickets from New York to Moscow have fallen about 37 percent.
The 2014 World Cup drew thousands of fans from around the world to Brazil, and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will bring even more. But you should beat the crowds and go in 2015. Brazil’s currency, the real, hit an 11-year low versus the dollar this month, so the greenback is strong in hot destinations like São Paulo and Rio.
And getting there is cheaper, too. Last March, round-trip tickets from New York to Rio were running around $1,170. Today, you can find flights for $850. And new airline routes from Florida are driving down the cost of airfare: American Airlines has added a Miami to São Paulo route, while Azul Brazilian Airlines is adding flights out of Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
Because the country is host to two major international sporting events in a span of two years, Brazil has been investing in tourism infrastructure, building 400 new hotels by 2016. The “gap year” of 2015 when hotels aren’t as busy, notes Travelzoo, means that deep discounts abound.