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Where to Get the Most for Your U.S. Dollar in 2018

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We all know that exchange rates change. But we don’t always think about those rates when we’re planning our next big adventure. As the value of the U.S. dollar changes, so does the buying power U.S. travelers when they’re abroad.

Sometimes those fluctuations are enough to warrant putting off a trip to one of your bucket list destinations for another year. Or maybe to bump an exotic locale to the top of the list so you can take advantage of the extra power your dollar will have while you’re there.

RewardExpert’s latest report looks at just that phenomenon by taking a deep dive into the changes in exchange rates over the last year. And their conclusion? You may want to start looking for a flight to some destinations right now, while other vacation spots are best saved for another day.

  • A Little Context

Before we get too far into the findings, it’s worth noting that the differences in exchange rates over the past year haven’t been big enough to justify jumping on the next flight to a destination whose currency has lost a lot of value.

On the other hand, if both Turkey and Thailand, for example, are on your list of places you want to see, Turkey’s a better choice at the moment since the dollar has gained about 28 percent in value over the last year. Thailand’s currency, on the other hand, has gotten about 6 percent more expensive.

By the way, Turkey made the top spot on the report for places that have gotten more affordable, and Thailand earned the top spot for places that have gotten more expensive.

All of this, of course, is relative to each country’s currency. So overall affordability of a destination is largely independent of changes in the exchange rate. In other words, it’s still cheaper to travel in Botswana than Switzerland even though the Swiss franc lost value against the U.S. dollar and the Botswana Pula is worth more.

  • The Dollar Has Lost Ground Overall

On the whole, the U.S. dollar hasn’t done very well recently. There could be any number of reasons for this, but the unpredictability of the current President and his trade policies certainly don’t help.

This is generally bad news for U.S. travelers. Most places you might be thinking about going will be a bit more expensive. It’s not in a free fall, though, and the drop shouldn’t be enough to keep you from traveling.

  • Where You Should Go in 2018

As I already mentioned, Turkey topped the list of destinations where the U.S. dollar has gained the most value. In fact, it is the place that saw the most change, either positive or negative.

The U.S. dollar will buy about 28 percent more in Turkey right now, so if you’ve always wanted to see the country—and you’re not too concerned about the current political situation over there—now’s probably a good time to plan a trip.

Mexico made number two on the list with the U.S. dollar gaining about 7% in value. And a flight from the U.S. to Mexico will be a whole lot cheaper than to any other spot on the list.

Rounding out the top places you should consider this year if you want your dollar to stretch a little further is Kazakhstan, Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and New Zealand. Hong Kong and Trinidad and Tobago also made the top ten, but the changes in their exchanges rates were very minor, coming in at less than 1 percent.

Here’s an overview of the top ten:

Increase in Value of U.S. Dollar
Turkey28.39%
Mexico7.15%
Kazakhstan5.68%
Nepal5.10%
Indonesia4.54%
Sri Lanka3.57%
Switzerland1.65%
New Zealand1.32%
Hong Kong0.66%
Trinidad and Tobago0.02%

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  • Places You Might Want to Skip This Year

I’m sure Thailand is on many lists of dream destinations, but 2018 might not be the best time to go. It made the top spot for places that have gotten more expensive due to a drop in the value of the U.S. dollar. You’ll get about 6% less for your money if you travel there now compared to last year.

Croatia stunned soccer/football fans everywhere by making it to World Cup final, but you may want to put off a trip to the idyllic coasts of this Eastern European spot. That’s because the Croatian Kuna has gained about 4 percent against the USD this past year.

The rest of the top ten that have gotten more expensive includes Canada, Bulgaria, the European Union, Botswana, South Korea, Singapore, Romania and Australia.

Here’s an overview of the spots you may want to skip this year:

Decrease in Value of the U.S. Dollar
Thailand-5.85%
Croatia-4.16%
Canada-3.96%
Bulgaria-3.81%
The European Union-3.76%
Botswana-3.73%
South Korea-3.55%
Singapore-3.25%
Romania-1.82%
Australia-1.79%

 

  • Other Tips for Making Your Dollar Go Further

One big takeaway from the report is that the biggest expense when it comes to travel to most of these destinations is the airfare. That’s particularly true of the countries that are harder to get to, but otherwise offer affordable travel. From the list of places where the dollar gained notable ground, I’d include Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Indonesia and Kazakhstan in that category.

If you’re thinking of traveling to one of those destinations, you should consider staying for as long as possible to get the most out of that expensive plane ticket. Once you’re there, you’ll find that your daily  costs will be relatively little compared to, say, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the European Union.

  • Travel Credit Cards Can Help

Since airfare is often the most expensive single purchase you’ll make for a trip, it’s worth noting that getting a great rewards credit card can help cover those costs. If you play your cards right, you can easily cover the entire cost of your airfare with the right card.

If you’re familiar with frequent flyer programs, a card that’s part of a robust rewards program, like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards, is a great option. With those programs you can transfer the points you earn directly to a select group of airlines or book through the programs’ respective online travel portals.

Beginners and those who don’t want to deal with complicated award charts and limited award availability might be better off with a more straight forward travel card, like those offered by Discover and Capital One.

With those programs, you’ll earn miles that can be redeemed for statement credits to offset travel expenses. That means you can simply buy the travel you want from any vendor and reimburse yourself with the miles you’ve earned. You might not get quite as much from your points with a program like this, but they are simple, easy to use and still quite valuable.

  • Bottom Line

Traveling is expensive. So it can be important to get as much as you can for your dollar. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas about the destinations you should prioritize and avoid this year based on recent changes in exchange rates. And don’t forget, a great travel credit card can help you pay for the most expensive part of many adventures—the airfare.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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Reviews

Bullion Bar: Try Your Luck Online

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Slot games have become synonymous with gambling and casino. They allow players to earn big while betting small amounts of money. And it is for this reason that the lure of trying to cash in big on slot games has become somewhat of a tradition for casinos and everything casinos-related.

What do we mean by this?

Well, online slot games have seen a massive amount of love from players worldwide. They are simple to play and easy to start earning money, but they also offer quite the gambling experience. And it’s for this reason. They are one of the primary online casino games for newbies and longtime gamblers.

So if you are new to the whole online gambling casino slot world, let us introduce you to this insanely enjoyable slot game called Bullion Bar.

With online slot games having a high RTP – you have very little to lose and so much more to gain.

Bullion Bars: Try Your Luck

Like many online casino slot games, the Bullion Bar has a relatively high RTP. The amount of times the online casino game has to pay out to its player is above 95.27%. This means you have a very high chance of earning money online while gambling, and Bullion Bars provide this for their players.

Aside from the high chances players are given – players are also given a nice cash jackpot prize for the lucky ones. The jackpot prize sits at about £20000 (roughly $40000 USD. Not too shabby).

The game allows players to wager as low as £0.4 and as high as £2 per line.

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The Visuals

As mentioned before, one of the best aspects outside of the monetary reason that one may come to play online slot games is also aesthetics. Bullion Bar provides a fantastic, visually stunning slot game that escalates the experience and the “gamblers rush” and makes slot games much more engaging and enjoyable overall.

Why Not Give It a Try?

If you are new to online slot games, then Bullion Bar is a great online slot ahem for you to test the waters. Offering players a high RTP, visuals that will leave the player captivated, and very engaging and immersive gameplay – do we have to ask?

What are you waiting for? Try your luck with Bullion Bar.

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Europe

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa

Our review of the very relaxing Grand Sheraton Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh.

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Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

We were excited to be invited along to the recently refurbished Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh a few weeks ago as part of the Sheraton’s #meetyouthere campaign. And we are even more excited to giveaway 10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty points to one of you!

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa, Edinburgh

As budget travelers, we are rarely given a chance to hang out in 5-star hotels, so we jumped to join the Sheraton team for a night of luxury at the refurbished Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh. Staying as part of the “Sheraton Club,” we were in line for the whole luxury experience. And boy, were we pampered from the minute we arrived!

Usually, we have to lug our backpacks up 17 flights of rickety stairs, but as we walked into the reception, our bags were carried to our rooms while we were whisked away to the Sheraton Club lounge for a welcome drink and canapes!

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Sure we were getting the star treatment as part of the unveiling of the refurbishment, but you can be guaranteed that you will get the same respect and luxury when you check-in, especially if you are lucky enough to win the 10,000 SPG points.

With our appetites held off for the next few hours, we were led to what is undoubtedly the showpiece of the Sheraton Grand Hotel. One Spa is attached to the Hotel as part of the Club member’s experience. You can even join the One Club separately from the Sheraton resorts.

Fortunately, we were dolled up looking dashing in shirts and skirts, so we were not expected to get a sweat on while we toured the exercise and workout areas. Although Adela and I did head down at 6.30 am the following day for a workout to burn off a few of the drinks we had. It is so lovely to walk through a Hotel directly to the gym rather than run in the cold like we usually do.

We didn’t say no to the Spa treatments, though. However, I did let the masseuse off lightly by offering to have a hand massage instead of a foot massage.

I even nearly fell asleep with the candles, oils, and hippy music lulling me into a dreamlike state. If only we had longer here so we could have enjoyed the rooftop pool as well.

Rooftop Hydropool at One Spa

I would have to say that the highlight of the entire night was the food and drinks. Heading behind the chaotic restaurant scenes, we met the world-renowned Malcolm Webster, the Head Chef, and creator of some of the most excellent food we have ever eaten. Plus, the Sheraton team dished out wines to complement every delectable forkful.

It turns out that pairing your food with a decent bottle of red is much nicer than the usual £3 bottle at Tesco.

The only thing left for us to do roll ourselves up to our Club rooms high above the city lights of Edinburgh and collapse on the gigantic bed. I now know why they make more expansive beds than they are long. Purely to fit my fat ass in after scoffing all that food.

Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa Edinburgh

Our only disappointment is that now we will struggle to get back into the budget travel frame of mind and wish we wrote a luxury travel blog instead!

Starwood Preferred Guest Points Giveaway

We are so lucky to be able to give you a chance to win your very own luxury experience with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. And the best part is that you can use the points anywhere in the world! And you don’t have to use all the issues in one go if you don’t want to. Although we recommend it 🙂

For example, you can spend three nights in a Starwood Category 1 Hotel using 3,000 points a night or just one night in the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa. The choice is yours. Check out this list of Category 4 Hotels around the world.

So all you have to do to enter our draw is follow the subsequent two links to join our newsletter mailing list and ‘LIKE’ us on Facebook. Once you have done that, there is nothing to do but sit back, relax and cross your fingers! If you have already done both, then you have entered already!

The draw will be held on Friday 29th June and be announced in our June newsletter, on our travel blog, and our Facebook page.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER. THANKS ALL FOR ENTERING.

All photos courtesy of Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa.

Disclaimer: We were guests of Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa as part of their #meetyouthere campaign. However, as always, our thoughts are always our own.

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Adventure Travel

Review: 10 Day Egypt Explorer Tour with Expat Explore

A comprehensive review of Expat Explores 10 Day Explorer Tour through the stunning country of Egypt.

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Expat Explore Group in Egypt

We have wanted to visit Egypt for a while now, so when the opportunity to get away over the Christmas and New Year period arose, we knew we needed to head there for a break. We joined Expat Explore on their 10 Day Explorer Tour through Egypt, taking in the sights of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, and Hurghada.

Expat Explore Group Photo

Expat Explore Ten Day Egypt Explorer Tour Review

We chose Expat Explore because they were the cheapest with all the same sights and in the end, we were happy with our choice.

Pre-departure, they emailed us our itinerary with the optional excursions and additional costs for entry fees, including budgeting appropriately. As well as following up with our pre-trip questions regarding flights, insurance, and health and safety advice.

From the start, they were very professional. Landing in Cairo, we were personally greeted the day before our tour and transported to our City center hotel. That drive was an eye-opener to Egypt with crazy lane changes, honking, swerving, and flashing lights with animals, people, and vehicles everywhere.

El Tonsy Hotel is your base for your arrival and last night. Luckily we didn’t expect much as our door didn’t lock, which was a bit dodgy, and the rooms were cold with a broken heater and only one blanket. You wouldn’t think you would need heat in Egypt, but it was the middle of winter, chilly at night. No complaints with the location, though, as we could see the Pyramids in the distance and were only 5 minutes walk from the Nile and 15 minutes to Tahir Square (perfectly safe, by the way). Plus, they have a little bar/restaurant with cheap food and free Wi-Fi. Just buy your snacks and water from the supermarket across the road, and you will get on fine.

El Tonsy Hotel View of Pyramids

It’s pretty hard to break down a whole trip into one post but here goes:

Day One

Your tour starts with the best in my opinion by touring some sights of Cairo. The steeply angled Step Pyramid, the mind-blowing Pyramids of Giza, and the smaller than expected Sphinx. This day was the highlight.

Pyramids of Giza

That night is spent aboard the train for 10-12 hours to Aswan. I highly recommend the Sleeper train for an extra £50 per person. Others who caught the standard train froze their butts off while we had a toasty sleep with dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately, Expat Explore never told us about the provided food, so we ate before we got on board but what we could fit in was delicious.

Day Two in Egypt

The tour splits in Aswan as one group embarks on a River Cruise aboard a 5-star ship while the others spend time in hotels and on a Felucca. No surprise that we went with the cheaper option aboard the Felucca, so the next few days are from that point of view.

The afternoon is yours at Sara Hotel on the banks above the Nile. We lapped up the beautiful rays of the sun and managed to turn our pasty white bodies a more fitting, slightly white shade. The Hotel was great until the toilet next door erupted, sending a river of smelly waste across our bedroom floor (throw your toilet paper in the bin, not the loo)! Luckily we woke in time to rescue our bags from the watery mess! Not the fault of Expat Explore, and we didn’t blame the Hotel either, as shit happens.

Day Three on the Nile River

Your day begins by visiting the monstrous High Dam for 10 minutes (reasonably boring) and driving past the Unfinished Obelisk. At the same time, the highlight is the Philae Temple. It is pretty magical when the sunsets across the Nile reflect off the stonework.

Philae Temple Sunset

The evening ended with an optional dinner in a traditional Nubian family’s house. The food was delicious, and you better bring your singing and dancing shoes.

Day Four on the Felucca

The following day and night are spent relaxing aboard the Felucca for a sail up the Nile for several hours. Sleeping no more than eight people, you will be snug if you bring your sleeping bag like us. The rest of our crew was jealous as it did get quite chilly in the evening. However, blankets were provided.

With delicious pita bread and falafel cooked on the boat, you will not be disappointed with the food either.

The day ends with a bonfire on the Nile shoreline as you sing and dance with the crazy fun Nubian crews. This was one of the highlights of the entire trip for us.

Travel Tip: Don’t be put off by doing your “business” amongst the reeds of the Nile. Just enjoy the view and remember to bring your toilet paper (which you need everywhere in Egypt anyway).

Felucca on the Nile

By all accounts, from the other tour members, the River Cruise is just as great, with three nights onboard in comfortable accommodation, a pool, and buffets morning, noon, and night.

Day Five Temple Exploring

Waking to a sunrise breaking the morning chill is a glorious way to start a new day. Unfortunately, there is little time for relaxation before you are off the Felucca and on a bus to Kom Ombu and Edfu Temples. The transportation was more than adequate, with toilets on the buses and room enough for everyone. It’s lucky because you spend most of the time being driven around.

The Lotus Hotel in Luxor was probably the pick of them all. It was situated on the Nile bank with a swimming pool and a tasty buffet breakfast.

Day Six at the tombs

One more day, one more busy schedule. Rushing to beat the crowds at the Valley of the Kings, it’s another 8 am start. You are only allowed to visit three tombs, and we recommend the guide picks: Ramses II, IV, and IX.

Travel Tip: You are NOT allowed to take your camera with you off the bus. Please don’t ruin it for everyone by taking photos, as you will be charged by security when caught.

We also squeezed in the crowded rock-carved Hatshepsut Temple but only drove past Luxor Temple as we ran out of time as you need to go 6 hours to reach Hurghada that night.

Day Seven and Eight at the Red Sea

The following two days at the Red Sea are yours to do whatever you like, so use them wisely. We joined most of our group for a spot of snorkeling and diving. The dive and the staff were great, but the whole day seemed a little rushed, which was a shame. Keep an eye out for our post on our diving experience in Hurghada.

Diving in Hurghada on the Red Sea

So nice being able to relax on a beach and read a book after such a hectic schedule. It’s hard to leave, and the 6 – 8 hour bus ride back to Cairo is challenging.

Travel Tip: If you plan to do the tour over New Year’s Eve, you will have to depart Hurghada half a day early, which sucked as it meant celebrating the New Year at the Hotel in Cairo. Bit of a letdown, but when hasn’t New Year’s Eve been!

Day Nine in Cairo

Your final day of sightseeing is spent around Cairo. Our favorite part of the day was the Cairo Museum with an excellent tour guide. It fits perfectly at the end by seeing all the history close-up after learning about it over the last eight days.

By the time we hit the old area of Cairo and the Coptic Hanging Church, we were spent on history, but our guide made a reasonable effort at keeping us entertained.

The last group activity is free time for an hour or so at the Khan El Khalili souk markets, where the touts try to prise your cash from you for the last time from every nook and cranny.

Day Ten is the end

With the tour over, it’s time to head home. Our flight was late the following night, so we walked around the city and Souks on our own for the day. Expat Explore provides transport back to the airport, which was great.

The Negatives of Egypt Travel

The trip was fantastic, but we think it’s important to note the little things that could make a massive difference to the overall experience:

  • It felt like we were always hungry. Maybe it is just Kiwis and Aussies that eat all the time, but it seriously felt like we were constantly starving, with lunches being served usually after 4 pm and dinner at 9 pm onwards. It might be the Egyptian way to eat at those times, but not for us. Travel Tip: Buy lots of snacks for the road which are very cheap at supermarkets.
  • There was sometimes a lack of direction in what seemed to be happening. Everything is done in Egyptian time, so be patient.
  • We were often delayed or behind schedule with little to no guidance on how long it would take to get from place to place. A little knowledge goes a long way as then we can plan.
  • More free time would be great to explore places independently rather than have our hands held everywhere.

The Positives of traveling in Egypt:

As we said above, the trip was excellent, and the little positive things far outweighed the negatives, which helped make it a memorable trip.

  • Pre-departure information and care were excellent.
  • The tour was exceptional value for money, and it was the cheapest tour we could find even though we still saw all the same sights the other groups did.
  • The guides were incredibly knowledgeable and never failed to answer any questions we had. The insight into the daily lives of the people around us was a nice break from all the history. They also ensured you never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • The Felucca trip was better than expected, and overall, so were the accommodation and transport options.

We highly recommend you book with Expat Explore if you are considering a trip through Egypt.

Make sure you subscribe now and come back soon so you can enjoy reading our new posts, which will cover everything else in more detail.

Disclaimer: Expat Explore provided us with a discount for our ten-day tour of Egypt; however, our thoughts are always our own.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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