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    Some of the best parts of travel, in no particular order: sampling local cuisines, exploring renowned landmarks, making memories with your companions. One of the less wonderful parts of travel: figuring out how to pay for it all. 

    Lucky for us, the U.S. dollar kicked off 2016 strong with some of the strongest exchange rates we’ve seen in years against currencies like the pound and the euro. If you’re planning a vacation this year and have your eyes on the prize and your wallet, these nine destinations give you the best bang for your U.S. buck.

    Photo by Alex Mihis
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    Currency: Australian Dollar, AUD
    Rate: 1 USD to 1.29 AUD

    Considering the current rates, it’s almost hard to believe that back in 2013 the AUD was stronger than the USD. The beginning of 2016 saw the best rate in recent history, and though there’s been a small dip since then, the dollar is still going strong against its Australian counterpart. This means that, for U.S. travelers, Australia is less expensive than it’s been in years. Though the cost of long-haul flights unfortunately hasn’t dropped, this year’s favorable exchange rates may just be the perfect excuse to finally take a vacation down under.

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    2. SWEDEN
    Currency: Swedish Krona, SEK
    Rate: 1 USD to 8.12 SEK

    For the past year and a half or so, 1 USD has been worth about 8 and 9 SEK, which is about one third stronger than it was just two years ago—one of the most improved exchange rates in recent history. This means that Sweden is becoming increasingly more budget-friendly for Americans. Additionally, low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle expanded its services in 2015 with more long-haul routes, including to Sweden—making it even easier to get there without breaking your budget.

    Photo by Alexander Cahlenstein
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    3. CANADA
    Currency: Canadian Dollar, CAD
    Rate: 1 USD to 1.26 CAD

    If you’re looking to take a vacation somewhere a little closer, our neighbor to the north has an exchange rate that’s been increasingly favorable over the past couple of years. While the USD and CAD used to be of roughly equal value (around 2013), the USD was worth almost 1.5 CAD earlier this year. What’s more, if you live close enough, you can just drive to Canada and skip paying for flights.

    Photo by Snap Wire Snaps
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    Currency: South African Rand, ZAR
    Rate: 1 USD to 14.40 ZAR

    This is one of the most dramatic conversion rate changes of the past few years: in 2012 the USD was only worth around 7 to 8 ZAR, but today the value has almost doubled, with 1 dollar worth more than 14 ZAR. Basically, this means you can experience the beauty of South Africa for about half of what you would have spent four years ago, so there’s no excuse not to extend your trip and see everything that South Africa has to offer, from game reserve safaris to luxurious beaches. (And after a nearly 20-hour flight, you certainly won’t be in a rush to turn around and come right back home.)

    Photo by Julie Holmes
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    5. RUSSIA
    Currency: Russian Ruble, RUB
    Rate: 1 USD to 65.30 RUB

    Russia is one of the most culturally rich destinations in the world, and it also has one of the most favorable exchange rates for U.S. travelers. The value of the USD has doubled against the RUB since 2012, and it hit its peak early this year at almost 80 RUB per 1 USD. What’s more, although Russia may feel far away, you can fly there for much less than other comparable destinations; tickets can clock in at under $500 roundtrip.

    Photo by Dennis Jarvis
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    6. INDIA
    Currency: Indian Rupee, INR
    Rate: 1 USD to 66.46 INR

    Although India has long been notoriously inexpensive, it’s actually getting even cheaper for U.S. travelers—currently, the USD is worth 30% more against the INR than it was in 2012. And if you care more about seeing and enjoying the country’s rich spiritual, culinary, and cultural wonders than about luxury hotels and private drivers, the most expensive part of the trip will be the flight—which means that once you get there, you’ll have very little financial stress. (Traffic-related stress is another question.)

    Photo by Chee Huey Wong
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    7. BRAZIL
    Currency: Brazilian Real, BRL
    Rate: 1 USD to 3.52 BRL

    South America has traditionally been considered a budget-friendly travel destination for U.S. tourists, but Brazil was priced out of some travelers’ reach 4 or 5 years ago when the exchange rate between the USD and BRL was seriously weakened. Thankfully (for U.S. travelers, anyway), the rate turned back in our favor last year, making Brazil affordable just in time for travelers who want to head to the Olympics. While cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo can still cost a fair amount, there are plenty of ways to save in those destinations, such as staying at local bed and breakfasts, Airbnbs, or traditional pousadas, all of which often include extras (like meals!) and can be less expensive than hotels.

    Photo by JMC International Storytelling
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    8. MOROCCO
    Currency: Moroccan Dirham, MAD
    Rate: 1 USD to 9.68 MAD

    Morocco has also long been considered inexpensive for U.S. travelers—especially compared to destinations in nearby Europe—but the strong dollar means that Morocco may just be more appealing to your wallet than ever before. The value of the USD has hovered between 8 and 10 MAD since 2012, but the past year has shown the strongest exchange rates, with the value consistently staying around 9.5 to 10 MAD. When you consider that the costs of activities essential to an authentic Moroccan experience—including street and market food, desert tours, and Hammam baths—are already extremely low, U.S. travelers may be able to take advantage of the solid exchange rate and splurge on extras here.

    Photo by Tom Godber
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    Currency: Euro (EUR)
    Rate: 1 USD to .88 EUR

    While a less-than-1:1 exchange rate might seem like a bad deal for U.S. travelers, this rate is actually the most favorable it’s been in years. And for tourists looking to take a quintessential European vacation without forking over their life savings on a few days in Paris, Portugal is an ideal destination. The capital, Lisbon, is gorgeous, and it also has famously low prices—a recent report noted that a pint of domestic beer costs just 1.50 euros (or 1.70 USD) on average, and a three-course meal for two costs about 30 euros (or 33.91 USD).

    Photo by Rick Ligthelm
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    WHAT'S NEXT . . .

9 Destinations Where Your Dollar Will Go Far in 2016

Where you can get the biggest bang for your travel buck