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By: Liz Pulliam Weston
The weak dollar has made travel abroad increasingly painful for most U.S. travelers, who tend to herd to a small number of European destinations: typically the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany.
Budget-minded tourists can cope by scouring the Internet for bargain flights, squeezing into no-star hotels and subsisting on cheese and crackers eaten on a park bench. Or they could consider getting a little more adventurous and traveling to where their dollars still go a long, long way.
How does a beachfront bungalow for $10 to $20 sound? Or a seafood dinner for $2? Or admission for two to a museum for less than a buck? Or (if you like luxury) one of the finest hotel rooms in the world, for less than $300 a night?
All of this is possible if you break out of the Grand Tour circuit and consider some of the many great travel bargains in other parts of the world.
I asked Tim Leffel, author of "The World's Cheapest Travel Destinations," to pick out eight dollar-stretching countries, including some that would be good for school-age kids. (We agreed that traveling to developing nations with infants and preschoolers is a bit dicey, both for the kids' health and the parents' sanity, although people certainly do it.)
Airfares to these countries from U.S. cities range from a few hundred bucks to $1,000 or more. (You can get an idea of current fares at MSN Travel.) Once you're there, though, you'll spend far less than you would in more developed nations, and often less than you'd spend feeding, entertaining and sheltering yourself at home.
The possibilities are endless
1. Argentina: Imagine a country with stunning scenery, exciting nightlife, world-class food and wine -- and now imagine it on sale for two-thirds off. Once the most-expensive country in South America, Argentina's economic collapse and subsequent currency devaluation in 2001 created bargains whose effects continue to linger. The economy is now on a robust rebound, but the dollar still goes a long way. Leffel said budget travelers can get by on $25 to $35 a day, but those willing to spend a bit more -- say, $75 to $150 for a couple -- can feast on gourmet meals and stay in great hotels. Dinner, by the way, is typically served at 10 p.m. and signals the start of partying into the wee hours, which is why Leffel sees Argentina, and especially Buenos Aires, as a better bet for singles and couples than families.
(Click the link below to see the other 7 destinations.)
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