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Five places to travel while the dollar is strong

With the dollar strong and fuel prices at record lows, there's never been a better time to travel abroad.

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    People row their boats under cherry blossoms at Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo (April 4, 2016). People all over the country go out to see cherry blossoms as the country's iconic flower is full bloom. Japan is an excellent place to travel right now as the dollar gets 33 percent more against the yen than it did in 2010.
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Travel isn't cheap, but when the dollar is 15%–55% stronger against other currencies than it has been in over a decade, now is the time to travel! Not everywhere is a good value at this time. Some other currencies are flourishing just like the USD, so if you want to find strong-dollar discounts, you have to know where to look. Here are five amazing places to visit that are far less expensive than they have been in a recent five-year history thanks to a strong U.S. dollar.

Note: All currency conversions are based on XE.com's historical data. The current exchange rates may have changed since this article was published. Daily budgets and average hotel costs were calculated using numbeo.com's travel index tool.

1. South Africa ($1 USD = 15 ZAR)

Five years ago, you would have only gotten 6.73 Rand for your dollar, but now you'll feel more than twice as rich in South Africa. There has never been a better time to go on an African safari. In 2010, entrance to South Africa's biggest park (Kruger National Park) would have cost $23.77 (160 ZAR), but now, you can watch lions, zebras and elephants roam free for just $17.50 (264 ZAR)!

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A four-day luxury lodge safari trip in Kruger National park is around 15,000 ZAR. In 2010, that would have been $2,225 USD, but today it's only around $965 USD!

A budget room in a guest house (known as a "backpacker" in South Africa) will cost you about 385 ZAR. In 2010, that equated to $57 a night, but today you'll pay just over $25 for the same room.

The Math

Midrange Daily Budget: 500 ZAR / Day

This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $74 / Day

This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $33 / Day

Savings of: 55%

Current Exchange: 1 USD = 15 ZAR

5 Year High: 16.00

5 Year Low: 6.56

2. Russia ($1 USD = 70 RUB)

The beautiful city of Moscow, the churches of St.Petersburg, and the world's greatest train journey have never been so affordable. The Russian ruble fell drastically at the end of 2014, and while this isn't great for Russians, it is excellent for those of us who have always wanted to visit this vast and beautiful country.

The average price of a midrange hotel in Moscow is around 3,500 RUB. In 2010, that would have been $116, but today that is less than $50.

One of the most legendary train journeys on the planet, the Trans-Siberian, is now a better value than it has been in the past few decades. The trip from Moscow to Ulan Bator will run you around 35,000 Rubles for a first class ticket. At Christmas time in 2010, that would have been $1,160, but with today's exchange it's just $498! You can buy two tickets today, for the same price as one ticket would have cost you at the end of 2014. Incredible.

The Math

Midrange Daily Budget: 4000 RUB / Day

This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $133 / Day

This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $57 / Day

Savings of: 57%

Current Exchange: 1 USD = 70 RUB

5 Year High: 71.91

5 Year Low: 27.29

3. Brazil ($1 USD = 3.95 BRL)

Although Brazil was once considered a "BRIC" economy, the collapse of oil prices, the FIFA World Cup, and preparation for the 2016 Olympics has proven pretty rough on Brazil's currency. Today the Brazilian real is suffering a real downturn and the U.S. dollar is getting about 57% more than it did around this time in 2010.

If the Brazilian real continues on this downward trend, the Olympics in 2016 might make for a great budget destination. According to olympics.org, tickets for events will go for around 70 real. That's only $17.70, and by the time the games begin, it might be even less.

A three-star hotel in Brazil averages at around R$230 per night. In 2010 that was $138, but today that same room will cost you less than $35.

The Math

Midrange Daily Budget: R$400 / Day

This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $240 / Day

This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $100 / Day

Savings of: 58%

Current Exchange: $1 USD = 3.95 RUB

5 Year High: 4.17

5 Year Low: 1.57

4. Japan ($1 USD = 122 JPY)

I have personally always wanted to visit Japan, but I thought it would be outrageously expensive. This was true back in 2010 when the exchange rate was around 82¥ to the dollar. At that time, Japan would have been a steep holiday, but today the dollar gets 33% more than it did back then.

The average cost of a midrange hotel room in Japan is 10,000¥. In 2010 that would have been $122 USD, today that room will run you just $82.

A guided hike to the top of Mt.Fuji costs about 47,000¥. In 2010 that was $573, but today you'd pay $385.

The Math

Midrange Daily Budget: 19,000¥ / Day

This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $231 / Day

This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $155 / Day

Savings of: 33%

Current Exchange: $1 USD = 121.83 JPY

5 Year High: 125.63

5 Year Low: 75.76

5. Any Country Using the Euro ($1 USD = 0.92 EUR)

Head to Europe for huge savings! Explore the whitewashed buildings of Oia, Greece, lay on the soft, sandy beaches of the Mediterranean, explore the beauty of Paris, and the history of Rome, all for a fraction of what it would have cost you just a few years ago.

At the end of 2010, the Euro was at 0.76 to the dollar, but today the dollar is 17% stronger and trades almost equally with the Euro. When I was in Greece, I found a lovely apartment just a few blocks from the sea on Santorini island. At the time (May, 2011), that apartment cost me 34 Euros, which was around $50 USD/night. Today I could get that same apartment for just over $37.

There hasn't been a cheaper time for Americans to visit Europe in over a decade. This is the perfect time to explore one of the most fascinating continents on Earth.

The Math

Midrange Daily Budget: €100 / Day

This daily budget based on 2010 conversion: $131 / Day

This daily budget thanks to today's dollar: $110 / Day

Savings of: 17%

Current Exchange: $1 USD = 0.915 EUR

5 Year High: 0.95

5 Year Low: 0.67

Enjoy it while it lasts...

Celebrate the strong American dollar by taking a trip to a place you couldn't afford previously. Enjoy the discounts while you can!

This article is from Nick Wharton of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website. This article first appeared in Wise Bread.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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