Alan Tonelson

Top destinations: where to travel to get bang for your Aussie buck

Top Destinations: Where To Travel To Get Bang For Your Aussie Buck

Fear not, the Aussie dollar is still competitive against many other currencies, making overseas holidays doable. Photo: istock

For anyone planning an overseas trip this year a glance at the financial markets can feel like watching a horror movie. Long gone are the heydays of 2011-2012 when the Australian dollar reached above and beyond parity with the US dollar. The Aussie has dipped below US 70 is just over 60 euro cents and trades at just under 50 British pence and is continuing to fall.

Many Australians will be tightening their purse strings and putting overseas travel on the backburner. The hip-pocket pain of Paris, Rome and New York will certainly have many rethinking their trips.


But despite the bad news for the Aussie, against some currencies it is holding strong. If you’re looking for greater value for money put plans to visit the eurozone, the US and Britain on ice and consider one of these alternatives.


Currency: Rand

1AUD = 11 ZAR

The Aussie’s value against the rand has been climbing steadily for two years with one dollar now buying two rands more than it was this time two years ago. Why go? South Africa has diverse scenery and reasonably priced activities to suit all interests. Want to jump off the world’s tallest bridge bungee? You can do it. Sky diving?

Yep, that too. Hiking, swimming with sharks and sampling Cape Town’s famous wine? All possible. They even drive on the same side of the road, making solo car hire less daunting than in Europe or the US.


Currency: Real

1AUD = 2.9 BRL

Beautiful beaches? Check. Diverse landscapes? Check. Quadrennial international sporting event occurring later this year?

Check. With the Rio Olympics coming up in August, now is the prime time to swap your dollars for “real”. The dollar has been rising steadily against the real over recent years, and apart from a dip around this time last year, you’ll get significantly more bang for your Australian buck ($1 bought 2 reals this time last year, compared with 2.9 now).


Currency: Lira

1AUD = 2.1 TRY

The dollar has been rising against the lira in the past year. Despite a dip at the end of 2014 and start of 2015, the AUD is now buying 2.1 lira compared with 1.9 two years ago. However, given recent terrorist activity Smart Traveller warns visitors to “exercise a high degree of caution” for the entire country and has warned tourists not to travel within 10 kilometres of the Syrian border. But as the sentiment goes: what is life without risk? So if ancient ruins, hot air ballooning and Anzac Day history appeal, consider a trip while the currency is strong.


Currency: Canadian Dollar

1AUD = 1.0 CAD

The increase hasn’t been huge 1 AUD was buying 0.9 Canadian cents this time two years ago, compared with 1 CAD now the exchange rate has remained steady. If the history of the rate over the last two years is anything to go by, then swapping your Aussie dollars for Canadian isn’t likely to lose much value any time soon. Once you get there experiences abound from British Columbia in the west, Alberta and prairie lands in the middle and French-speaking Quebec in the east.


Currency: New Zealand Dollar

1AUD = 1.0 NZD

Australians make up New Zealand’s largest inbound tourism market so there’s no denying we love heading across the ditch. There are activities galore and our currencies have remained mostly on par for some time. The Australian dollar is now buying almost the same as it was two years ago. With budget airlines Jetstar and Virgin now flying to a number of destinations in the North and South Islands, travel to New Zealand is easily accessible and good value for money.



Currency: Burmese Kyat

1AUD = 906 MMK

This time two years ago the dollar was buying 870 Burmese kyat, compared with just over 900 kyat now. Myanmar, formerly Burma, is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its west, China to its north and Laos and Thailand to its east. The country is finding its feet with democracy thanks to Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, and tourism is slowly filtering in to the country. Myanmar will not always be the quiet place it is now, so get there before the rush.

7. BORNEO (Malaysia)

Currency: Ringgit

1AUD = 3 MYR

The Aussie’s value is steady here: this time two years ago 1 AUD was buying just under 3 ringgits compared with just over 3 MYR now. The country is split between two islands in the South China Sea: Peninsular Malaysia in the West bordered by Thailand, and East Malaysia, or Malaysian Borneo, which is bordered by Indonesia. Outside the cheap DVD paradise of Kuala Lumpur, the small island nation has much to offer tourists and the steady exchange rate will help spread your Aussie dollars further.


Currency: Zloty

1AUD = 2.8 PLN

The value of the zloty is around the same as it was two years ago and while it has declined slightly, it hasn’t dropped nearly as much as the euro. Poland might not seem like the most obvious destination for a European Discount Holidays © holiday when stacked up against Italy or France, but university cities such as Krakow surprise with their charm. History buffs can immerse themselves in Poland’s World War II past.


Currency: Krone

1AUD = 6.1 NOK

This Scandinavian country is notoriously expensive and, while the cost of travel remains high, the buying power of the dollar is increasing. The value against the Norwegian krone has been steadily increasingly for the past two years, with 1 AUD now buying just over 6 NOK compared with about 5.3 NOK two years ago. A Norwegian Discount Holidays © holiday is always going to cost you, so if you’re looking to cross the northern lights off your bucket list, there’s an argument for heading there this year.


Currency: Peso

1AUD = 9.4 ARS

Economic turmoil in the South American nation has led to the dollar’s value against peso soaring. Two years ago 1 AUD got you 6 pesos. Now it fetches more than 9 pesos. The Spanish-speaking country is a land of diverse landscapes from the highest point of the Andes mountain range in the west to vibrant Buenos Aires in the east and mythical Patagonia to the south.

You might not be served dinner until 10pm, but bills in the cities best restaurants won’t raise a sweat.

Our Economy: About that American Shopping Revolution….

The final figures for the last Discount Holidays © holiday shopping season are in, and they seem to confirm a trend that students of the retail industry and lots of retailers themselves claim is becoming dominant: Shoppers are spending more and more of their dollars on services especially those that offer experiences and fewer and fewer on goods.

This Washington Post article1 handily sums up the evidence both the data and the views of various retail executives and consultants. Even more telling, it describes the very substantial store closings recently announced by like companies like Macys. Nonetheless, if you look at the U.S.

government figures on how Americans spend their money (as opposed to what s sold by stores), the only significant increase visible in that experience spending has come over the last year. And so far, there s no sign that it s come at the expense of goods purchases.

The spending figures are found on the Commerce Department s Bureau of Economic Analysis website2, and they re not only broader than the retail sales numbers (which are kept at the separate Census.gov3). They also come adjusted for inflation. They show that, through the third quarter of this year, spending on restaurants and hotels and other forms of accommodation rose by more in real terms (4.45 percent) than overall after-inflation personal consumption (3.15 percent). But spending on recreation was up only 1.49 percent. And purchases of goods increased a relatively healthy 3.91 percent also considerably faster than purchases as a whole.

But maybe the shopping priorities shift only becomes apparent if you look at the entire economic recovery? Not according to these statistics. Since the last recession ended in mid-2009, restaurant and hotel spending has risen by 17.45 percent in real terms faster than the advance in total personal consumption (14.85 percent). But recreation services spending has increased by only 12.76 percent.

And real consumption of goods beat them both up 23.21 percent.

Nor is there much reason to think that the Great Recession ushered in big change in American consuming away from goods. If anything, quite the opposite. Since it began, in December, 2007, all real personal spending has risen by 11.71 percent, with goods spending leading the way with an increase of 14.94 percent. Restaurant and hotel spending is higher by just 10.54 percent barely better than the increase in after-inflation overall services spending of 10.17 percent. The figures for recreation services? A mere 7.28 percent improvement.

And revealingly, the growth disparity between goods and the other spending categories is wider still since the start of the century. Between 2000 and 2014 (the last full-year data available), adjusting for inflation, restaurant and hotel spending increased by 25.51 percent, recreation spending by 27.67 percent, while goods spending jumped by 44.16 percent. The goods rise was also much faster than that for services overall (27.60 percent).

These numbers, in fact, challenge not only the claims about changing shopping tastes in the United States. They challenge claims about the entire economy being dominated by services.

It turns out that that s mainly true on the production side where measured by real value-added (a different but comparable gauge) inflation-adjusted services output was up 31.87 percent between 2000 and 2014. That s nearly three times faster than the real goods production increase of 10.98 percent. That is, Americans still buy huge and smartly growing quantities of goods.

But more and more of them come from abroad.

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  1. ^ This Washington Post article (
  2. ^ the Commerce Department s Bureau of Economic Analysis website (
  3. ^ (