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Destinations Where Your Dollar Goes Further in 2024

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From groceries to gas, things here at home in the U.S. are getting expensive. But abroad, you'd be amazed by how far you can stretch your dollar.

The U.S. dollar is incredibly strong against many major international currencies – and that means your dollar goes further in many places abroad right now.

It's the best of both worlds if you can jump on a cheap flight, then stretch your dollar in places like Portugal, Japan, Greece, and South Africa, among many others. Let's look at some of the destinations where the U.S. dollar is looking strong … and show you just how cheap it can be to get there in the first place.

Looking for other ways to find cheap flights to amazing destinations? Check out our guide on how to find cheap flights.

 

Japan

Some countries are constantly among the thriftiest places to travel for Americans, but we've never even thought about Japan before…

Right now, the U.S. dollar is extremely strong in Japan, making some of the best food and drinks in the world mind-bendingly cheap for U.S. travelers. It's part of why travel to Japan is so popular right now.

 

Japan to USD exchange rate
JPY to USD exchange rate as of Feb. 20, 2024.

 

I was just in Japan earlier this month and couldn't believe how little I paid for some of the best meals I've had in my life. Besides the always-cheap snacking you can do at popular convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Lawson, even a nice sushi dinner in Tokyo's popular Shinjuku neighborhood only ran me $35 per person – and that includes multiple rounds of cocktails.

While bullet trains, some hotels, and flights within Japan are about on par with U.S. travel costs, transit (i.e. local trains and buses) is unbelievably inexpensive, and entry to most museums, shrines, and other cultural attractions was all typically $5 or less, too.

I couldn't believe my eyes when my Capital One purchase push alerts hit my phone. Again and again things were half as expensive as I thought or less. Shipping my ski bag from Tokyo-Haneda (HND) to Hokkaido: $35. Airport Limousine Bus transfer from Haneda to the front door of our hotel: $19. The best bowl of Ramen of my life: $4. Even my wife and my usual Starbucks order – which typically costs us around $11 in the U.S. – was less than $5 at Tokyo Starbucks.

Think that sounds good? I can do you one better. Tipping is strongly discouraged in Japan and is even considered offensive. This leads to even more savings on already cheap goods and services. And if you think that no tipping leads to lackluster service, think again! It was some of the finest service I've ever experienced. You'll want to tip, but you can't. Nobody's turning the proverbial iPad around on you in Japan. Just a smile and a bow.

Even bigger experiences weren't expensive. Day lift tickets at Hokkaido's Niseko United ski resort – arguably the fanciest resort in the country – only cost $63 per day, and even less if you purchase more than one. Compared to the $200-plus a day you might pay at some U.S. ski resorts, that's a bargain.

The most expensive parts of the trip were the breakfasts and cocktails we enjoyed at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo and the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Outside of the Western hotel chains, though, being in Japan was like living in a different tax bracket.

Plus, we find flight deals to Japan for our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers all the time, especially if you want to make the 11-plus hour flight in business class.

 

JFK to Tokyo JAL Business

 

This Japan Airlines Business Class deal was not only bookable for only 60,000 American Airlines miles each way, but it is in one of JAL's brand new A350-1000 business class suites.

Speaking of suites, All Nippon Airways (ANA) also dabbles in the fine art of airborne suites. This ANA First Class seat was bookable for just 73,000 points each way, too!

 

ANA First Class

 

You could easily transfer points from any of the major banks – Amex, Capital One, Chase, Citi, or even Bilt – to Virgin Atlantic to book this comfy ride to Tokyo.

I could go on and on. If the vibrant culture and unbelievable landscapes aren't enough, here's your sign to visit Japan as soon as you can.

 

Portugal

No matter where you go in Europe, your dollar is strong. It might not be at the depths at other points during the pandemic, but when you compare it to the last five years, it's still an amazing time to visit Europe in general.

 

Euro to dollar

 

But prices across individual European countries and cities using the Euro can still vary, from the wildly expensive Paris to other cheaper, off-the-beaten-path destinations. And few countries are cheaper than Portugal. 

The thriftiness is just part of the reason we love Portugal and think you will too. Start your trip in either Lisbon or Porto, and see the scenic, coastal country for yourself. I knew it would be beautiful … but I underestimated just how cheap it was there, too.

During my first trip to Portugal, a great dinner barely scratched $25. Some of the best pastries in the world, called pastéis de nata, often cost just 1 euro. The same goes for an espresso. I never thought twice about buying local food on the street and I fell short of my budget every day I was in Portugal.

 

Ponto Final Lisbon fish

 

Plus, in cities like Lisbon, Airbnbs are plentiful and affordable. So skip the hotels and book yourself an apartment, instead.

Now all you need is a cheap flight to get to Portugal from the U.S., and we've got some great news for you: Portugal has been one of the most reliable destinations for cheap flights this year (and next).

How cheap? How about roundtrip airfare flying American, Delta, or United for less than $599?

 

Portugal flight deal

 

That's less than half of the cities that all featured similar pricing to Lisbon (LIS) and Porto (OPO) in 2024.

Thrifty Traveler Premium members got this cheap flight alert – sign up and get the next great domestic or international flight deal!

And if business class is more your style, we found these TAP Air Portugal Business Class seats available for just 45,000 miles each way when we sent this deal a few weeks ago. While those low fares are sadly gone, you can still find them for just 35,000 points using Avianca LifeMiles from New York (JFK) or between 60,000 and 80,000 miles each way booking through other programs, too.

 

TAP Biz 

Read next: The Best Airline Miles to Use For Booking Business Class Flights

 

Spain

Just east of Portugal is Spain, another country that accepts euros and where your dollar is going to get you more.

Unlike other major countries on the continent, Spain is a historically affordable destination for travelers. That's especially true for foodies, where a dinner and a glass of wine won't cost you much more than a Chipotle order at home.

From Barcelona to Madrid and even to Mallorca, there are a million ways to eat and drink your way through Spain. Hit Madrid's mercados and get some tapas, or snack on some pintxos all day long.

With two major airports in Barcelona (BCN) and Madrid (MAD), Spain is ripe for cheap flights, too.

 

Spain flight deal

 

No, your eyes don't deceive you. Even our subscribers in far-flung cities like Butte, Montana (BTM) and Midland, Texas (MAF) were able to book these sizzling sub-$499 roundtrip fares to Spain this year – and not on budget airlines but major U.S. carriers and their international partners.

Want to get to Spain on miles instead? Read up on how to fly there for just 34,000 miles roundtrip – or do it in business class for less than 70,000 miles!

 

Ireland

Unlike Spain and Portugal, Ireland doesn't immediately come to mind as a cheap Western European destination, but we think it probably should.

The Emerald Isle is much cheaper than neighboring England and especially Iceland to the north. And with the dollar's strength against the euro right now, Ireland can be a bargain.

On a recent trip to Ireland, Thrifty Traveler points and miles guru Peter found even a personalized pint of Guinness with his face stamped on the foam on top cost him just $6.

 

guinness face on beer

 

Transportation in Ireland is also pretty affordable, meaning you can get around to all of the sights without breaking the bank But first you need to get there, and Ireland is often fertile ground for some of the cheapest flights to get to Europe.

That's due in part to the presence of Irish flag carrier, Aer Lingus, which offers nonstop flights to and from many U.S. cities. Combined with competition from U.S. airlines flying in and out of Dublin (DUB), roundtrip fares for $499 or less aren't hard to come by.

 

Ireland flight deal

 

If you're feeling lucky, you could book these fares during St. Patrick's Day, too. I think it's safe to assume that Dublin puts on quite a celebration during that week…

 

Greece

You've probably seen the stunning seascapes and pristine islands of Greece. The place just looks expensive – to me, anyway. Yet somehow, it's not.

 

Greece

 

Also on the euro, Americans can stretch the value of their dollar in Greece right now. In the metropolis of Athens, a $70-a-night Airbnb can get you stunning views in the vibrant heart of the city. On the island of Crete, access to the beautiful Samaria Gorge hike runs you just 5 euro. And if the South Aegean island of Paros is more your speed, flights to the island start at just $30 one-way.

You'll be amazed at how cheap it can be in Greece once you get there, but it must be expensive to fly to Greece, right? Obviously not. What, are you new here?

 

Greece flight deal 

Get flight deals like this one in your inbox with Thrifty Traveler Premium!

Believe us now? Cheap flights to Athens (ATH) are out there! These flights are for April, which is a beautiful time of year in Greece – it's not too hot, but the weather is still lovely with a fraction of the crowds.

 

Croatia

Croatia is one of the newest adopters of the Euro, just recently ditching the Croatian Kuna in 2023. And while the country is still transitioning to its new currency, things are staying cheap.

It's honestly dangerous how inexpensive the food and wine were when I visited Croatia last August. If I'd had stayed another week, I might not have made it back alive. But the savings in Croatia go beyond your table setting.

The crown jewel of Croatia is Plitvice National Park. It's one of the finest parks on the planet. A real-life Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs that simply must be seen to be believed. Entrance to the park for adults works out to just $7 in the off-season and up to $42 in peak summer, which is when I visited.

 

Plitvice Lakes Big Waterfall

 

Want to kayak around the city of Dubrovnik for an hour? It's just $15 for the rental. And the savings go on and on and on.

With the longer distance and few nonstop options, cheap flights to Croatia can be hard to come by … so it can pay to wait for a deal like this one we sent our Thrifty Traveler Premium members.

 

Croatia flight deal

 

This deal included fares to Zagreb (ZAG), but Croatian Airlines and their low fares put you within an hour's flight and around $45 away from the coastal cities of Pula, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik.

Read Next: The Pearl of the Adriatic: Why You Have to See Dubrovnik, Croatia for Yourself

 

Hungary

If you're looking for charm without the cost, head to Eastern Europe. Western Europe's popular destinations come at a premium, but you can see, eat, and drink so much more in Eastern Europe for a fraction of the cost.

Perhaps no city is more emblematic of this than Budapest. Already renowned as one of the best budget destinations in all of Europe, it's even better for Americans right now with the exchange rate close to the best it's been in decades!

 

Hungarian Forint

 

Budapest is a beautiful city, full of travel hotspots you should see. It's also on the list of our favorite underrated European cities, and one of the most affordable destinations in the world.

And in the last few years, we've uncovered the following flight deals to Budapest (BUD) from the U.S.

  • Roundtrip from more than 100 North American cities to BUD under $499
  • Flying Air France and KLM for 30,000 Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles roundtrip
  • British Airways Business Class from Canada to BUD from $2,101 roundtrip
  • Air France Business Class from 59,000 points each way
  • Turkish Business Class from 32,000 points each way
  • and more!

These quick and often comfy flights can get you to Budapest for cheap.

 

Turkey

The Turkish lira has been struggling for years, making a trip to Turkey cheaper for Americans thanks to the exchange rate.

Yet the U.S. dollar just keeps getting stronger and stronger against the lira. Case in point: The dollar's value against the lira has more than quintupled in the last five years. It's more than doubled in the last year alone!

 

Turkish lira

 

Your dollar has never gone further than right now in Turkey, and it's an underrated destination for travelers, too. Start your trip with a flight to Istanbul (IST) and explore the country from there.

Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Bodrum, and Izmir are all popular locales in the country. They're all destinations where you can live a little more while spending a little less. Go make that visit to the Mediterranean Sea with a visit to Turkey, and don't spend too much to get there, either.

But is it cheap to get to Turkey, too? Why yes it is…

 

Turkey flight deal

 

Plus, Turkish Airlines also runs a ton of routes into the United States, giving travelers the chance to book nonstop flights to Turkey from as low as 30,000 miles roundtrip in economy, or 45,000 miles each way in business class, too!

 

Colombia

Ocean, mountains, culture, and adventure dot the country of Colombia and its world-class cities of Bogotá, Cartagena, and Medellín. It's the kind of destination travelers are starting to consider more and more – due in part to how far your dollar can go there.

It's always been cheap to travel to Colombia, and as you can see from this extremely consistent chart, it still is.

 

Colombian peso to sud

 

The exchange rate with Colombian pesos continues to trend in Americans' favor, with $1 netting more than 4,000 pesos today. It's not hard to find an ice-cold bottle of beer in Colombia for just 4,000 pesos – $1 or less!

It's a perfect time to save on your trip to Colombia, especially when you pair it with some record-low cheap flights. While many flights are more expensive than ever, we've seen some record-low fares down to both Bogota (BOG) and Cartagena (CTG) in 2024.

 

Colombia flight deal

 

Thailand

Thailand comes to mind immediately as one of the thriftiest travel destinations … at least if you can get there for cheap.

The lodging, transportation, food, and everything else there is famously inexpensive. And that was when the Thai Baht and the dollar were closer in value.

 

Thai Baht to USD

 

The exchange rate for the Thai Baht has been tumbling for years. That means the cheap food, drinks, and massages in Thailand are even cheaper right now than they have been lately.

If Thailand seems a little too far-fetched for you, give us two minutes to change your mind! We have a beginner's guide to Thailand that is the perfect way to kickstart your planning. If you're looking for a longer excursion to the Asian nation, we've got a two-week guide for you, too.

Thailand is far away, but that doesn't mean you can't get there for cheap. In fact, you can get there for as little as 68,000 Delta SkyMiles roundtrip and $110 in taxes and fees when you book a deal like this one!

 

Thailand flight deal

 

South Africa

The exchange rate with the South African Rand isn't at record highs for American travelers, but South Africa is still unquestionably a cheap place to travel in 2024.

 

South Africa to USD

 

Can we recommend Cape Town to you? The mountainous, coastal city should be on your bucket list if you love international travel. There's hiking in the mountains, world-class beaches, an immense amount of consequential history, incredible wine, and a culture unlike anything you've ever seen.

Up until now, however, there just haven't been very many flight deals to help get you there for cheap. That has changed.

 

South Africa flight deal

 

I mean, come on! Sub-$800 fares to South Africa used to be unheard of, and that's doubly so for airports in the middle of the country. But a $753 fare with just one stop? Unreal.

We've heard from tons of Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers who have booked bucket list trips to South Africa this year thanks to unbelievable deals like this one. And the deals just keep coming!

 

Canada

Wait, Canada? That's right. One of the destinations where your dollar goes further right now is a drive or a quick flight away.

 

Canada exchange rate

 

With the Canadian dollar weakening compared to U.S. dollars, this year is a perfect time to plan that trip to Montréal for the total solar eclipse or the Formula 1 race or to Banff or Vancouver to explore Western Canada's stunning mountain ranges – all at huge cost savings to you.

Plus, as we've noted before, flights to Canada are as cheap as they've ever been – including during the peak summer travel months.

 

Thrifty Traveler Premium Banff flight deal

 

This flight deal to Calgary – just a 90-minute drive from beautiful Banff – featured tons of U.S. cities with flights under $299 roundtrip!

 

Bottom Line

The U.S. dollar is strong right now, and it's especially strong against the currencies of some of our favorite, thriftiest travel destinations. That means your dollar goes a lot further at these destinations than it does back here at home.

That includes the usual thrifty favorites like Portugal and Croatia, but also includes newly inexpensive countries like Japan and Canada, too.

And with flight deals as bountiful as they are right now, it might be some of the best international travel conditions for Americans that we've seen in a while.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

5 Responses

  • The Belize dollar is always pegged 2:1 to the USD. The variance of 4 or 5 cents doesn’t make much difference! But I will say, I visited Belize several years ago and the prices were very reasonable for great Chinese and Mexican food! 😋

  • My wife and her sister just used your advice for selecting a flight to South Africa.
    Thanks much. The price was incredibly affordable considering the distance.

  • How is Mexico not on this list !!! Especially since Costa Rica is . My fine dining in Mexico ( with a three month stay) NEVER exceeded $25 (USD). I’ve been in Costa Rica for 10 days, btw it’s been raining nonstop) and my single fine dining meal just cost me $60 (USD).

  • Don’t forget Argentina, with the blue dollar forex rate & rapidly dropping peso it is significantly cheaper than everywhere on this list. There are alao many cities in Asia that are significantly cheaper than anywhere in Europe & most of S.America

  • Exchange rates are a relative thing. Just because the rate is low doesn’t mean it’s an overly cheap destination. Inflation in Turkey is about 65% so prices do keep some pace with the deprecated exchange rate. Thailand isn’t as cheap as it used to be. It’s still a ton cheaper than the USA but it being dirt cheap just isn’t true anymore.

    South Africa is among the cheapest places I’ve ever been. And the food is unreal. It’s very tough to find a bad meal. Their currency is severely undervalued and inflation isn’t very high.

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