“Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage,” said author Paulho Coelho. And if you’re a Canadian planning a trip to your favourite US destinations this year, you’ll probably need both. As the loonie continues to plunge into the low 70s, Canadians are rethinking their 2016 travel plans, be they overnight cross-border trips or week long March breaks. According to a recent survey by Expedia, almost 74% of travellers said the weak Loonie’s impacting their travel plans for 2016.
As resilient travellers, we can’t let the sliding loonie minimize our wanderlust. While crossing the border may no longer be as appealing, there are so many cheap international travel destinations, equal to or even better than popular US destinations, where we can still get the best value for our dollar. Here are some of our top recommendations for budget travel destinations based on our research, travel experiences and current exchange rates*.
Cheer your favourite team at the Summer Olympics in Brazil
1 Canadian Dollar = 2.82 Brazilian Real
Daily costs** – 600 Brazilian Real (approx $150-$200 CAD)
Brazil as a travel destination is on many traveller’s minds this year. Nothing can beat visiting this year’s summer Olympic destination to combine sport with the nature, culture and cuisine of beautiful Rio De Janeiro, all in one trip! While the exchange rate is in favour for Canadians, the availability and cost of accommodation in Rio may be at a premium due to the Olympics mark-up. You might need to get creative with accommodation options like AirBnB, hostels and Couchsurfing, especially if you’re travelling on a budget.
Apart from the landmark, Christ the Redeemer statue, there’s so much to explore in Rio. From the cable car accessible, Sugar Loaf Mountain to Copacabana Beach and the Tijuca rainforest. Check out some unique itineraries mapped out by Rio’s official Olympics website, Rio2016.com.
As a bonus, on account of the Oympics, the Government of Brazil has exempted tourist visa requirements for Canadian passport holders from June 1 to Sep 18, 2016 for a stay up to 90 days. Start planning right away; you can look up CoSport for individual tickets or even hotel and ticket packages.
Discover the Khmer culture in Cambodia
1 Canadian Dollar = 3186.19 Cambodian
Real Daily costs** – approx. $75-100 CAD
Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple took first place in Lonely Planet’s list of 500 best attractions last year, and that’s only a small part of what Cambodia has to offer! From beautiful beaches in Koh Rong and waterfalls in Mondulkiri to colonial buildings in Phnom Penh also dubbed the ‘Pearl of Asia’. Travelling to Cambodia ensures a trip rich in history, culture and nature, in the company of hosts known for their warmth and hospitality, while a great exchange rate ensures that it’s wallet-friendly too! Here’s everything you need to know about travelling to Cambodia, exploring the temple ruins of Siem Reap and how you can authentically experience the Khmer culture.
Visit Costa Rica on a budget with a great exchange rate
1 Canadian Dollar = 420.58 Costa Rican Colón
Daily costs** – approx. $50 – 150 CAD
Pura vida! Costa Rica is a great destination for Canadians vying for their annual sun and sand. This lush tropical paradise is a treat for nature lovers and packs in adventure for all kinds of travellers. The destination, combined with the exchange rate can be especially a great choice for families hoping to travel on a budget. Take a cue from our Cost Management Director, Taka, who had a memorable time with his family in Costa Rica and would rate it an easy 10 as a family vacay destination. Before you start planning, note the entry requirement for Costa Rica. You must havea return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay to enter Costa Rica.
Witness South Africa’s wildlife as the Rand weakens
1 Canadian Dollar = 11.34 South African Rand Daily cost** – approx. 150-175 CAD South Africa is another phenomenal destination that’s packed with wonders and versatility. Few destinations can boast both the beauty of a city like Cape Town combined with majestic nature and wildlife seen at the Kruger National Park.
With everything from beaches and wineries to museums and mines, South Africa seems like a world in itself. And with the exchange rate in favour for us Canadians, this budget travel destination should definitely be on your list. Note that the country has recently revised its immigration rules and will not allow minors to enter without an unabridged birth certificate. Read all about the new entry requirement for children visiting South Africa in our blog post.
Experience ancient cultures and beautiful sceneries in Argentina
1 Canadian Dollar = 11.31 Argentine Peso
Daily Cost** – approx. 80-160$ CAD
A visit to Argentina can truly be the trip of a lifetime for any traveller. The country is vast, gorgeous and has everything one could ask for in an adventure or vacation destination and then some! Museums, culture, wildlife, mountains and glaciers, incredible food and wineries, you name it!
For the more adventurous, you must include the Unesco Heritage site, Iguaza Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Here’s a quick tour of Iguaza falls and nearby wildlife. For travellers more inclined towards food and culture, ‘South America’s Paris’, Buenos Aires is a great choice. And nature loves should check out Patagonia for its wild, rugged terrain. Our Communications Supervisor, Melissa travelled to both and there highly recommends them. She shared her experiences and travel diary on our blog to give us a taste of both Patagonia and Buenos Aires.
Note – Canadians travelling to Argentina will need to pay US$72 online as a reciprocity fee on Dirección Nacional de Migraciones website and must show the printed receipt before airline check-in and on arrival.
Plan your tropical vacation in beautiful Bali
1 Canadian Dollar = 10399.45 Indonesian Rupiah
Daily cost** – approx. 120-250 $ CAD
When it comes to international travel, Bali is possibly the most popular destination after Thailand and the strength of the Canadian dollar against the Indonesian Rupiah definitely helps! It also happens to be on Telegraph’s top 10 best value travel destinations of 2016.
As Bali gets crowded with more tourists this year, off-beat places such as Canggu and Tarangasem are showing up onthe radar for people looking for more exotic travel experiences. If you’re one of those, try a homestay and check out a few quick must-knows before travelling to Bali.
Travel insurance is a must when travelling abroad
No matter what international destination you pick for your holidays in 2016, remember to get the correct travel insurance coverage to ensure a stress-free vacation. Don’t assume that a favourable dollar also means cheap healthcare in that country.
Also check the destination specific travel advisory on the Government of Canada’s website, estimate a country’s local risks and buy travel insurance that is right for you and your companion’s/family’s needs. For instance, the Public Health Agency of Canada has currently issued a travel health notice for Brazil, Cambodia and Costa Rica and advised against pregnant women travelling to these destinations due to the Zika virus outbreak. Take special health precautions when you travel to any of the affected countries this year, and read your insurance policy’s fine print before you go.
If you need advice or have any questions, we can help. Simply email us at email@example.com, call us at 1-855-929-8846 or shoot a query as a comment below.
*The exchange rate is calculated as on April 22nd, 2016.
** Daily Cost is calculated based on Lonely Planet’s country specific survival guide.