Just because the US Dollar is soaring at the moment, doesn’t mean that Canadians can’t find travel destinations that offer more bang for the buck than in recent years. Sure we’ve lost +/- 20% if we’re visiting the United States, but we can still gain discounts for our dollar elsewhere. Currency conversion travel can save you huge money on your next holiday… if you know where to look! Our beloved loonie may be faltering when compared to the almighty USD of late, but we’re still one of the world’s most tradable currencies and there are still great deals to be had on our dream vacations.
Note: All exchange rates in this article were found on xe.com on February 9th 2015 and are compared to the exchange rate at this time in 2012. Not all destinations are at an all-time high, but all are at a high value based on recent 3-year history.
Here are 5 of our favourite destinations where our dollar is still stronger than it was a couple of years ago.
We visited South Africa back in 2011 when the Canadian dollar to rand conversion (CAD to ZAR) was hovering around 7 rand to the dollar. Today it’s up over 9 rand and back in December it was over 10! Time your trip properly to this wildlife and road trip paradise and you can enjoy savings of up to 40%! When we were there, our average room cost was 350 ZAR ($50). Those same room rates would now equal just $38. Tack those savings onto car rentals, food, wildlife safaris, gas costs (which is also cheaper of late) and you’re enjoying a pretty lush holiday for a fraction of what it would have cost just a couple of years ago.
Midrange Daily Budget: 500 ZAR / Day
This Budget based on 2012 conversion: $60 / Day
This Budget thanks to today’s dollar: $46 / Day
Savings of: 23%
Current Exchange (CAD-ZAR): 9.31
5 Year High: 10.13
5 Year Low: 6.23
Before you start explaining how you don’t want your holidays to be spent in a place that is notoriously even colder than Canada, you should know that Russia is stunning in the spring and summer months and it is home to one of the world’s great train journeys: The Trans Siberian Railway. This rail expedition has been historically quite expensive, but not anymore now that the Russian ruble collapsed in late 2014. We visited Russia back in July of 2013 and our exchange at that time (CAD to RUB) was around 31. Today it’s at a wallet friendly 56 to the loonie. When we were in Russia, our average room cost us around $50 / night, today those same rooms would be just $27. The Trans Siberian Train from Moscow to Ulan Bator was around $900, but today you could take the same, jaw-droppingly gorgeous ride for just $498. Those are some incredible savings! Basically if you head to Russia today, you’ll spend about half as much on your holiday as you would have during this time last year.
Midrange Daily Budget: 4000 RUB / Day
This Budget based on 2012 conversion: $137 / Day
This Budget / Day thanks to today’s dollar: $76 / Day
Savings of: 45%
Current Exchange (CAD-RUB): 52.58
5 Year High: 58.88
5 Year Low: 28.31
Visiting the famous Mt. Fuji, sampling Tokyo’s nightlife and eating sushi all day every day is a lot cheaper today than it would have been a couple of years ago. Japan has always been an expensive place to visit, and going now when you get more yen for your dollar doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a “cheap” holiday, but it is a pretty good time to go. During this time in 2012, you would get just 77 Yen / 1 CAD, but today you’ll get around 95. Average budget rooms (according to Lonely Planet) cost around 9000¥. Back in 2012 that would be about $120 but today it’s just $95. A guided hike to the top of Mt.Fuji will run you about 4,7000¥. In 2012 that was $620 but today you’d pay $495. We’ve never visited Japan but maybe now is the time. Actually December 7th 2014 would have been the best time because the dollar peaked at a 5 year high of 106.49 Yen to the dollar.
Midrange Daily Budget: 19,000¥ / Day
This Budget based on 2012 conversion: $250 / Day
This Budget / Day thanks to today’s dollar: $200 / Day
Savings of: 20%
Current Exchange (CAD-JPY): 95.32
5 Year High: 106.50
5 Year Low: 72.72
The FIFA World Cup and preparing for the 2016 Olympics has proven pretty rough on Brazil’s “BRIC” economy. Today the Brazilian real is suffering a real downturn and the Canadian dollar is getting about 23% more than it did around this time in 2012. If the Brazilian economy continues on this downward trend, the Olympics in 2016 might make for a great budget destination! According to olympics.org, tickets for events will go for around 70 real. In 2012 that would have cost around $41 but today it’s only $31 and by 2016 it might be even less. We’ve not yet been to Brazil, but maybe 2016 will be the year for us.
Midrange Daily Budget: R$400 / Day
Budget based on 2012 conversion: $235 / Day
Budget / Day thanks to today’s dollar: $179 / Day
Savings of: 24%
Current Exchange (CAD-BRL): 2.23
5 Year High: 2.35
5 Year Low: 1.60
That’s right Canadians… Iran! We visited this amazing country last year and we absolutely loved it. Despite its poor portrayal in Western media, Iran is a very safe, secure and fun place to travel and thanks to the collapse of the rial in September of 2013, it’s never been a cheaper place to explore! When we were there, we were finding incredible value on transportation, hotels and tours. Travel is very comfortable in Iran and we were taking beautiful first class buses for a little over $1 / hour. Rooms were also of great value with many mid-range hotels costing less than $40 / night. These days, Canadians need to take a tour to visit Iran, which is a bit of a downer. The need to take a tour has definitely added to the cost of travelling in Iran, with a cheap 15 day trip costing around 32,500,000 rial all in (yes, that’s a big number), but that would have cost about $2,860 in 2012 and it’s just $1,500 thanks to today’s exchange rate. While you’re in Iran, you can get an even better exchange on the black market, so if you’re buying that stunning, hand-made Persian rug you’ve always wanted, you’ll enjoy huge savings.
Midrange Daily Budget: 1,325,000 Rial / Day
This Budget based on 2012 conversion: $117 / Day
This Budget / Day thanks to today’s dollar: $60 / Day
Savings of: 49%
Current Exchange (CAD-IRR): 22,127
5 Year High: 24,496
5 Year Low: 9,307
When we were researching the Canadian dollar’s exchange history over the past 5 years, we found that we had a large drop around December of 2014 against many currencies. But the five countries above are offering us some of the best conversion discounts we’ve had in years, so now is the time to pack your bags and head to one of these amazing destinations. But don’t just go because it’s cheap. Do your research and find a place that’s great for you. Travel is about experiences, friendships and exploration… cost and budget should always come second.