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How strong is the U.S. dollar in 2022? Where can I travel and get the most for my American bills? Which country has the best exchange rate for my bucks?
Even with rampant inflation and a recent flip of the Treasury yield curve, the U.S. Dollar is still the world’s reserve currency, with 60% of central banks utilizing dollars for their cash reserves. The dollar’s value is very consistent even though the world’s financial systems are in turmoil at the moment, and sometimes, that can be advantageous for travelers!
Let’s examine global destinations where your dollar will stretch the furthest. But, first, some basic economics. Exchange rates are essential but barely capture how far your dollar stretches. It would be best if you look at a comparable “basket of goods” to find how many “goods” you can put in a “basket” in every country while spending the same amount of U.S. dollars. It’s not how many Bahts, Euros or Reals you can get with your buck; it’s how much you can buy with that currency, which we still ultimately think of in U.S. dollars.
What’s the exchange rate between Denver and Albuquerque, New Mexico? Nothing right? But most stuff is cheaper in Albuquerque — that’s the basket of goods concept working for you. Exchange rates are only part of stretching your dollar, and with worldwide inflation today, the basket of goods approach is by far the better metric.
That’s what the researchers at World Data have done. Using figures from the OECD, Worldbank, IMF, and Eurostat, they calculated a cost of living index, adjusted to U.S. dollars, for 109 countries which shows where your dollar will stretch the furthest.
Enough of the economic jargon! Below are the top ten countries where your dollar will be worth the most. We cross-referenced the World Data list with U.S. Travel Advisories — all ten countries have the lowest (safest) travel advisory level.
Countries are ordered by where your dollar will stretch the furthest, first. For example, a score of 77% cheaper means you will spend, on average, 77% less in that country than you would in the U.S. Happy travels!
Our research team operates independently to recommend the best destinations using data analysis; we may earn a commission for any purchases made through links on this page.
Our top recommendations are based solely on World Data’s Comparison of Worldwide Cost of Living research. We cross-referenced all 109 countries in their study with U.S. Travel Advisories to find the countries where the U.S. dollar is worth the most while maintaining the lowest (level 1) travel advisory.
Several countries on our list have regions or cities with higher travel advisory levels but maintain a level 1 advisory country-wide. Pay attention to region-specific advisories when planning to travel to these areas.
World Data’s research was last updated in April 2022, and U.S. Travel Advisories are continually monitored and updated as needed. Our analysis was performed on July 6, 2022.
Here, you can download a spreadsheet of the top ten destinations based on our analysis. Please feel free to use or share this data with whoever may find this helpful — we ask that your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page so its contributors can receive proper credit for their work.
Excel was the tool used to analyze and clean data for this article.
1. Angola, 77% Cheaper
It’s been 20 years since the civil war ended in this Southern African nation, and the country is slowly growing into a renaissance, according to World Travel Guide. The tourist industry is in a stage of regrowth, which means it is a great time to visit if getting the most bang for your buck is a priority! Angola is where the U.S. dollar stretches furthest globally while maintaining a level 1 travel advisory. It is important to note (as with other countries on our list) that certain cities within these countries have higher-level travel advisories. Urban areas in Angola are currently at level 2.
2. Kyrgyzstan, 76.3% Cheaper
This mountainous country in Central Asia should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list, according to The Broke Backpacker. Kyrgyzstan is an untouched ‘Patagonia’ of Central Asia and feels virtually undiscovered, although nine million tourists flock to the country each year, according to World Data. Neck and neck with Angola, you will spend roughly 76% less in Kyrgyzstan than if you were to vacation in the states (minus flights). This country also does not have any level 2 advisory cities!
3. Zambia, 72.8% Cheaper
Here’s another gem sometimes considered Africa’s best-kept secret, according to Wanderlust — notice the pattern; cheaper often means “undiscovered.” Another pattern is most of these destinations are recovering or rebuilding their tourism network, which is certainly something to keep in mind! Zambia is in the process of restoring wildlife to many of its parks, but the animals alone are only one reason to visit this country. The waterfalls, sweeping high plateaus, wetlands and rivers and a climate like Southern California are increasingly attracting more tourists yearly.
4. Bhutan, 70% Cheaper
A Himalayan Buddhist kingdom just East of Nepal lies Bhutan. The country is very traditional and rich in culture that dates back thousands of years. You will need a Bhutanese visa to enter, according to the Department of State. In addition, visits are highly regulated, with a mandatory daily fee ($200-$250) that covers 3-star accommodations, all your food and transportation, plus you get an experienced guide assigned to you for everywhere you go! You must arrange all of this through a licensed Bhutanese Tour Operator. Also, you won’t find much of a safer destination on or off this list!
5. Georgia, 67.8% Cheaper
Georgia may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning travel right now. It’s on the southern border of Russia, and you must avoid South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as Russian troops currently occupy these regions. However, the rest of the country is at a level 1 travel advisory. Perhaps surprisingly, the country often makes the top ten list of safest countries in the world for crime, according to the Global Organized Crime Index via Nomadic Matt. Your visit to Georgia will be roughly 68% cheaper than a vacation in the states, but stay alert, watch the news and listen to the locals. If you are an attentive and vigilant traveler, planning a trip to Georgia is not something you should take off your list right now!
6. Armenia, 66.2% Cheaper
Just south of Georgia lies another culturally rich country that tourists frequently overlook. Some equate Armenia with war, and it’s true that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of 2020 still experiences rises in conflict on the Eastern edge of the country, according to the Department of State. In fact, you must avoid this area. However, there is so much to experience in the Western region, including Mount Ararat, the first cathedral in the world, ancient cuisines and breathtaking mountain-lake landscapes, that the Eastern conflict is hardly a reason to avoid Armenia altogether.
7. Vietnam, 65.5% Cheaper
Vietnam is the only location on our list that you will likely immediately recognize as a tourist destination. The country brings in an estimated 18 million overseas visitors annually in pre-pandemic times. Yet, unlike many countries that surge in tourism popularity, Vietnam remains a highly affordable vacation destination. If you want to stretch your dollar in a country with a robust tourism network, you will not find a better country than Vietnam! Intrepid Travel even calls the country the perfect destination for first-time overseas travelers due to the friendliness of locals, the impeccable cuisine, abundant sightseeing opportunities, the weather, and, of course, affordability.
8. Suriname, 65% Cheaper
Suriname lies between Guyana and French Guiana in South America and shares a southern border with Brazil. Like many on our list, this country is highly affordable with an added cost of less overall ease due to a less established infrastructure. However, if off-the-beaten path and remoteness are what you are looking for, Suriname is an excellent choice. It is one of the most thinly populated countries on the planet, according to Dark Tourism. It boasts small coastal cities and a remote jungle inland, with some areas only accessible by river.
9. Mongolia, 64.7% Cheaper
Mongolia also sits on the southern border of Russia but currently experiences no hostilities from its northern neighbor. Historically, Mongolia and Russia share positive relations, and the Department of State presently ranks the entire country at a level 1 advisory — the safest possible. Combined with a roughly 65% travel savings for Americans, this nomadic country is prime for anyone who wants to drift through its deserts, endless steppes, or winding mountain passes. Fair warning, this is a country for prepared wayfarers, and a highly functioning vehicle with spare essentials is a must, according to RoamRight.
10. Cambodia, 63.4% Cheaper
Cambodia lies right between Thailand and Vietnam, with southern access to the Gulf of Thailand. Although its tourism network is not as developed as its neighboring countries, it offers plenty for travelers — especially if you want to avoid overdeveloped commercial spaces and see a place’s raw, untouched culture. But book your trip fast; Cambodia’s tourism is snowballing and the infrastructure is beginning to take off. According to The World Bank, it’s one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The next few years might be your last chance to see what the country is like before it becomes a travel hotspot like its neighbors to the East and West.