With a strong dollar making travel affordable, the time for that once-in-a-lifetime trip is now – Los Angeles Times

6 months ago Comments Off on With a strong dollar making travel affordable, the time for that once-in-a-lifetime trip is now – Los Angeles Times

A strong dollar isn’t a cause for celebration in all cases — the Wall Street Journal reported, for instance, that Tiffany & Co. profits fell in the fourth quarter last year partly because of the muscle of U.S. currency — but for travelers, it’s an opportunity to take advantage of improved foreign exchange rates.

This year and even next, thanks to contracts completed now instead of later, you can save on Asian adventures, African safaris and other bucket-list trips. Here are some ideas for a less-expensive idyll. Except where noted, prices do not include airfare, but often include taxes and fees. Most are based on double occupancy.

Note: Exchange rates vary and may have changed from those listed below.


Exchange rate: $1 brings about 66 rupees. Last year: about 62.

Yves Marceau, vice president of buying for G Adventures, a small-group travel company, thinks trips by rail or river offer an especially good value. The 13-day Northeast India & Darjeeling rail trip is specially priced from $1,104 for a June 16 departure, down from $1,299-$1,399 for other departures.

Eight- and nine-day river cruises along the mystical Ganges River are as much as 35% below retail through the end of this year, Marceau said.

Cambodia and Vietnam

Exchange rates: $1 brings about 4,033 Cambodian riel and 22,575 Vietnamese dong. Last year: 4,016 and 21,607, respectively.

G Adventures is offering a seven-night or nine-night Mekong River trip that is as much as 35% off. Sale prices begin at $1,259 (seven nights) or $1,399 (seven nights onboard and two in hotels) for select summer trips.


Exchange rates: $1 brings 68 rubles. Last year: about 50.

As oil prices have plummeted, so has the ruble. Secret Compass, an expedition-oriented company, recommends its 14-night Kamchatka trip in Russia’s Far East that involves climbing active volcanoes from $2,815.

A reindeer migration trip in 2017 in Siberia allows guests to trek alongside nomadic Nenets reindeer herders across the frozen Gulf of Ob, deep in the Arctic Circle (from $3,491).


Exchange rates: $1 brings 35 baht. Last year: about 32.

Lisa Greenberg, a representative for Odysseys Unlimited, a small-group travel agency that works with many university alumni groups, including UCLA, recommends a new 15-day Thailand tour that includes airfare, airline taxes and departure fees from $3,592 from Los Angeles (or San Francisco) in October. The package includes deluxe sightseeing and travel from Bangkok to northern Thailand.


Exchange rate: $1 brings 15 Namibian dollars. Last year: 12.

Safaris in Namibia are down as much as 30% from two years ago, said Chris Moriarty, program director for Wildland Adventures.

A popular 10-day Namibia itinerary that includes the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei and Etosha National Park ($3,120) is already sold out for 2016, but a comparable 10-day adventure for 2017 is being developed and should be online soon. That 2017 trip will cost about $3,100. One 10-day Namibia itinerary still available this year includes some of the same sights and is priced from $2,895.

South Africa

Exchange rates: $1 brings 15 rand. Last year: 12.

Moriarty recommends the nine-day South Africa Family Safari, priced from $3,975 a person. It includes visiting the private reserves of Timbavati or Sabi Sands near Kruger National Park, which offer close encounters with wildlife, have exceptional guides and tend to be less crowded.

New Zealand

Exchange rates: $1 brings 1.46 New Zealand dollars. Last year: 1.32.

G Adventures has a Yolo (“You only live once”) 16-day adventure for ages 18-39 that encompasses New Zealand’s South Island from $2,249 a person until October. (A June 30 departure is on sale for $1,912.) The journey begins and ends in Wellington, North Island, with stops in national parks, Queenstown, Christchurch and Kaikoura.

Walks in Abel Tasman and Paparoa national parks, cycling on the Otago Central rail trail and sea kayaking in Doubtful Sound also are included. Guests stay in shared accommodations, which are popular for budget travelers in New Zealand.


With a strong dollar making travel affordable, the time for that once-in-a-lifetime trip is now – Los Angeles Times