For those that have the benefit of making a living in U.S. dollars, like me, we are lucky. The U.S. dollar is the world’s de-facto currency. The majority of businesses in the world would rather be paid in dollars than any other currency. As a matter of fact, there are a handful of foreign countries that have adopted “dollarization” and elected to use the U.S. dollar as their national currency, countries like: Ecuador, East Timor, El Salvador, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Islands, and Zimbabwe.
According to the International Monetary Fund, 60% of foreign currency reserves held by Central Banks are comprised of U.S. dollars. We trade international commodities like gold and oil in dollars, and 85% of foreign exchange markets involve the dollar. There are many reasons why the Dollar Remains King, as J. David Stein puts it, but I will save that for another day. What I would like to share with you is how you can get the most out of your travels with your dollars by targeting specific countries based on their devalued currency.
Currency exchange rates are constantly fluctuating from minute to minute, day to day, month to month and so on. What may be worth $100 one minute, can be worth $90 the next, without you even knowing why. The economics behind fluctuating currency rates are quite complex and sometimes confusing, but the easiest way to explain it is supply and demand. A whole slew of other factors like inflation, interest rates, market speculation, political policy, governmental debt, economic growth/recession, and more, also have a determining factor on how much a particular currency is worth at any given time. Although the dollar may not always be king, at this moment in time it is enjoying its rule over the world, and we have every right to take advantage of it.
Based on today’s exchange rate, here are 5 countries where your dollars will allow you to get more bang for your buck and the opportunity to travel more comfortably compared to this same time last year. *For $1usd, you are getting “x%” more than this exact day last year*
1.) Argentina – 63.78%
For the last few years, Argentina has had a monetary crisis. The general public knew that their pesos were depreciating by the minute and that the official rate was inflated, so they began exchanging their pesos for dollars on the black market at rates far higher than they were on the official market. This was good for tourists because they were receiving 12-16 pesos for every dollar instead of the 6-8 that the official rate stated, but bad for the government whose problem was worsening with each illegal exchange. Finally on December 16, 2015, Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, lifted long-standing currency controls to allow the peso to float freely and be priced by the market, which resulted in a devaluation of around 30% over night. What the Argentinian people had previously known became a stark reality when they woke up the next day and saw their savings cut in one third. Although this is a drastic drop, it will pave the way for future economic growth in the country, without the overshadowing dark cloud of an inflated currency. While I sincerely understand the pain and frustration the Argentinian people have, I see it as an opportunity to travel to Argentina and get the most valuable experiences for our money. From the natural wonder of Patagonia in the south, to the wine region of Mendoza, and the stunning metropolis of Buenos Aires, Argentina is guaranteed to provide you with unforgettable memories.
2.) Belarus – 37.32%
A landlocked country in Eastern Europe, Belarus has a strong tie to its neighbor in the east, Russia. With approximately 50% of Belarus’s total trade coming from its larger neighbor, it is no wonder that its currency took a massive hit at the end of December in 2014 when Russia’s economy floundered, and has since plummeted even further. As the economy took a hit, the citizens of Belarus rushed to exchange their nearly worthless rubles for dollars, prompting the government to impose a 30% commission fee on all currency transactions to slow the bleeding. This was eventually disposed of, but the damage had already been done, with the devaluation of the currency reaching more than 30% over the last year. As Russia’s economy slowly climbs to come out of recession, it would be a great time to visit this beautiful country with its Stalin-era architecture, primeval forests, and grand castles.
3.) Russia – 30.2%
Since mid-2014, Russia’s economy has been on a nose-dive, decimating its currency in the process. One of the major factors in this dramatic change has been due to the sharp drop in the price of its largest export, oil. Half of Russia’s overall exports in 2015, came from the exportation of oil, resulting in a gross surplus of more than $168 billion, which was down from $336 billion in 2013. It’s no wonder that their economy tanked as the price of oil dropped 60% from its peak in 2014. This factor along with international sanctions imposed for the government’s involvement with the annexation of Crimea and the separatist movement in Ukraine, has caused the economy of Russia to suffer. While I believe the worst part of the recession has already passed, it is still the perfect time to take that trip to Russia that you always dreamed of, and see St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, and the Red Square.
4.) South Africa – 21.15%
South Africa has been one of the more stable economies and governments of Africa for the past decade, but recent drops in commodity prices and alleged political corruption of their president, have shaken international confidence of the country at the southern tip of Africa. The exchange rate was up to nearly 17 ZAR/$1 USD in January, but has since retreated to below 15, which is still a great value for travelers with dollars. With a wide variety of stunning landscapes, from fruitful winelands, to pristine beaches, dense forests, jagged coastal cliffs, and vast shrublands, South Africa has plenty to amaze you with.
5.) Colombia – 19.82%
Colombia, just as Russia does, relies heavily on the exportation of oil to bolster its economy. As oil has slipped over the last year, so has the Colombian Peso. For travelpreneurs like me, it has given us a superb opportunity to live and work from such a beautiful country at a discount. When I was passing through Colombia in November-December of 2014, the exchange rate was around 2,250 COP/$1 USD. Now it has been hovering over 3,000! While this change seems relatively insignificant compared to the countries above, it has allowed me to stretch my money much farther than if I were to live back in the U.S. For those that live in the U.S., Colombia is just a few hours from Florida and round-trip flights can be found for around $200. Whether you want to hit the beach in Cartagena, swing through the Amazon jungle in Leticia, or hike through La Valle Cocora of the coffee region, the only risk in visiting Colombia is that you will want to stay, and with more money in your pocket I wouldn’t blame you.
Question of the Day: Would you travel to a country based on the local currency being devalued?
Comment below with your answer and if you enjoyed this read, please share this with your friends! Many thanks!! 🙂