5 Spots Where the Dollar Buys a Great Vacation
Here's a nice surprise: The dollar isn't quite the disaster it's been for the last few vacation seasons. Even Europe might be on sale for folks holding greenbacks, as economic troubles in Greece and Spain have pushed down the value of the euro.
In May 2011, a dollar bought only 0.68 euros; today it's at 0.78 and rising. So pack your money into a suitcase and take it abroad this summer.
Here are five countries where the dollar is stretching especially well this year. Some are bargains, and there should be something to suit just about any vacation style.
For a beach vacation with a little more character and authenticity than your typical Caribbean all-inclusive, head to San Juan del Sur, a quaint beach town on the Southwest coast known for its laid-back beaches, brightly colored buildings and sea turtle sanctuaries. The currency has crept down more than 4 percent in the last year to about 23 cordobas to the dollar. So staying here is an even better value than usual.
Where to stay: Rent a two- to three-bedroom house on the beach for $850 or so a week, based on listings on Homeaway.com and VRBO.com. A room at a boutique resort with yoga, pools, ocean views and spa can be had for $180/night.
What to eat: A seafood platter for two with lobster, squid, octopus, clams, shrimp and sides can be had for about $25, says a representative from the Nicaragua Tourist Board. Washing it down with a local beer will only set you back another $3 or so.
What to do: A surfboard rental and lesson will cost about $35, according to Ryan Croft. Go deep-sea fishing for about $16. If you're in relaxation mode, a one-hour massage in town costs about $40.
Americans have been flocking to sophisticated Buenos Aires for a few years now. But with the Argentine peso down 10 percent since May 2011, the values are even better.
Where to stay: Book a sleek room at a boutique hotel in the Palermo district, known for its cafés and nightlife, for no more than $200 a night. A room at 5-star hotel fit for Eva Perón can cost well under $500.
What to eat: Enjoy a parilla, which features cuts of Argentina's famous steak with side dishes, for $30 to $35 per person, including a bottle of red from Mendoza.
What to do: Admission to a tango club with a lesson starts at less than $10 (plus drinks). Do some shopping while you're in town. Bargain-hunters will find well-made men's leather belts for $35 and stylish women's leather tote bags starting at $135.
Iceland will never be a bargain destination. But financial troubles and a falling currency (down 9 percent from last year to about 126 kroner to the dollar) have turned it from a pricey splurge to a remarkable value relative to the rest of Nordic Europe.
Where to Stay: A room at one the best hotels in the center of Reykjavik will run $250 to $350, or less if you catch a sale, according to recent listings on Expedia.