The 'Loonly' Planet
Updated: May 9
It wasn't that long ago that vehicles bearing Canadian license plates lined the parking lots of US shopping malls, and Phoenix neighborhoods sported Canadian flags due to the relative strength of the Canadian dollar. Every decade, a combination of volatile commodity prices and global economics causes the loonie to swing dramatically from parity to the low 70s against the greenback. While our dollar has recovered in value recently, what are some attractive destinations for Canadians travelling with an eighty-cent dollar?
Sun and Sand
Canadians, including legions of snowbirds, seek out warmer climates during the winter. Mexico has always been a major destination given its proximity and a very favorable exchange rate of 10/1 to the peso. However, the ongoing fight against the drug trade has seen recurring incidents of violence and crime creep into popular resort areas. The Caribbean provides an alternative, and Barbados represents an exception to the other US dollar dominated islands at approximately 1.5 Barbadian dollars to the CAD. Traditional travel packages are readily available through Canadian airlines and fortunately, Barbados was among the Caribbean islands which escaped the direct impact of the Irma and Maria hurricanes. Despite lying further afield, Lisbon is still one of the cheaper European cities to fly into. Portugal offers a lively combination of delicious food and wines, numerous golf courses and constant Mediterranean weather.
Old World Charm
The value of the Canadian dollar is surprisingly constant against the Euro, but represents an even bigger shock at .66 Canadian. Regardless, Canadians wishing to access the history and culture of Europe should look to the periphery of the continent for deals. Former Eastern bloc countries like the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland retain many beautiful and important structures dating from the days of the Hapsburg monarchs, while residing outside the Euro zone as they work to restructure their economies. The Canadian dollar currently equals 17 Czech Koruna, making the republic an appealing destination year-round.
Indonesia has thousands of islands and Bali is one of the most luxurious and popular. At 10,000 Rupiah to the Canadian dollar, food and hotels are extremely cheap - you can find meals from $1 to $2 and hotel rooms range from $20 to $200 per night. Despite the distance, Indonesia is well served by airlines from Canada, aligning with the average cost to most Asian destinations.
An African safari is on the bucket list of most Canadians. Back in 2011 the Canadian dollar to South African rand conversion hovered around 7 rand to the dollar. Today it’s up over 10. There’s no doubt that the travel time and distance add to the relative cost of a South African excursion, but given the appealing combination of world famous scenery, wineries and wildlife, you can enjoy a breathtaking holiday for a fraction of what it would have cost just a couple of years ago.