With more and more people losing jobs and the economy shrinking, many people think that now is a terrible time to travel overseas. Fearing tremors in their jobs or their 401Ks, workers may often choose to stay at home this year, or maybe even work right through their time off.
But in one place, the timing is perfect for holiday travel. The combination of a favorable exchange rate, excellent plane tickets and lower demand has created the perfect storm of a budget traveler’s paradise, guarantying endless thrills, beautiful landscapes and wonderful food at a fraction of the cost.
That place? New Zealand. So why should you go in these troubled times? Here are ten great reasons:1. The Dollar: The thin silver lining around the recession is that the dollar is gaining ground against many foreign currencies. New Zealand is an excellent example, with the exchange rate at about 1.8:1 (at writing). That means that everything is half off. Skydiving, whitewater rafting, sailing, bungee jumping, tours of Hobbiton and even dinner is half off.
2. Delicious, cheap wine: Both New Zealand islands have recently been enjoying a boom in wine production. Helped partially by the drop in output from Australia (due to the recent brush fires,) Kiwi wine is widespread, inexpensive and quite delicious to boot.
You can take wine tours from Auckland (try the Mudbrick) or venture south into the Marlborough region to mix in some beautiful landscape as well.
3. Fare Wars: Ever since V Australia entered the transpacific market, fares between the United States and Australia/New Zealand have been outstanding. Several Gadling bloggers reached Sydney from Los Angeles for under $500 earlier this year, and even now, tickets are hovering around the $800 range. At about this time last year, these prices were around $2,000.
4. It’s an outdoor activity playground: New Zealand’s varied landscape includes lush, bucolic plains, rolling hills, sweeping glaciers and magnificent mountains, all within a span smaller than the state of Texas. You can bungee jump, swim through glowworm caves and white water raft all in the same day, and if that’s not enough, mountain biking, skydiving and sailing are a hop, skip and a jump away.
5. Because the economy needs us: With all of this belt tightening going around, the global economy is starting to stutter and contract. The only solution? Take some of that money out from under your bed and enjoy a healthy holiday. Just don’t put it on your credit card.
6. You’re going to sleep magnificently: At 5-8 hours behind the United States, You’re going to be struggling pretty hard to stay up until 10PM every day. And irrespective of whether you’re sleeping on a five star pillow top mattress or under the bar pool table, you’re going to collapse exhausted, sleep like a baby and wake up refreshed at 7AM the next day, with a full night’s sleep and ready to take on the Kiwi.
Furthermore, you don’t have to deal with any truncated redeye flights like those to the EU. With some fifteen hours to kill on your outbound journey, you’re bound to get your first night’s sleep in.
7. Because you’re leaving your job anyway: If you haven’t already been laid off, you’re terrified that you might get the ax any day now. Why not take a fraction of your savings and ride out the recession overseas?
8. They already speak English: No need to worry about asking for directions, negotiating prices or buying produce in another language, Kiwis are the friendliest people on the planet and are always willing to chat. As a bonus, some youngsters even find the American accent attractive.
9. Excellent Food: Its fertile soil and supple fishing waters make New Zealand a prime location for fresh produce, seafood, cattle and lamb. These strengths are reflected both in the grocery store, with plentiful, healthy selections and at restaurants, where chefs create exotic, delicious plates at very reasonable prices.
Coffee culture is outstanding as well, with a cafe on nearly every corner of the country, each with extremely high quality beans, standards and practices.
10. Because you may never get the same opportunity: This crazy combination of cheap tickets and a strong dollar may not come back for a while — perhaps in your lifetime. Don’t regret saving a few dollars now when the missed opportunity of a lifetime could haunt you for years.