Choosing a Place to Travel based on Cost 

Outline

Overvalued and undervalued currencies

Using the formula in the Big Mac Index interactive site , how much is the Big Mac overvalued in the most expensive country, and how much is it undervalued in the least expensive? Which countries would be the cheapest for travel, and which would be the most expensive based on this index?

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The Big Mac is overvalued by 28.1% in Switzerland, and it is the most undervalued the most in Ukraine by 69.0%. According to the Big Mac Index, The most expensive countries for travel would be Switzerland, Norway and Sweden. The least expensive countries for travel are: Egypt, Ukraine, and Malaysia.

Ten common countries in the cheapest countries listings

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From the Leffel article and various budget travel websites that I visited, ten common countries that were mentioned and appeared near the top of the Big Mac Index:

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Least expensive destination in the Eastern Hemisphere

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One of least expensive destinations out of my top ten list was Indonesia. I chose the dates of  Thursday, November 7, though Thursday, November 28, 2019. I used these dates throughout the project. A roundtrip flight from Omaha to Jakarta, Indonesia was $812.73 --which was by far the most affordable airfare out of my top ten countries. According to the online travel guide, Lonely Planet, $30 per day can provide decent food and accommodations. Daily expenses for a 21 day trip would total $630, making the grand total $1442.73.

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I also checked hotel prices on the internet. Expedia.com had affordable lodging. To get a good idea of lodging costs, I sought out two quotes for 20 days of lodging in Indonesia. The average totaled $211.28. Food costs of $5 a day according to Lonely Planet totaled $105. The grand total of my estimates of food, lodging, and airfare totaled $1129.01. This total was less than the estimate of $1501.11 that I gathered from using only the Lonely Planet’s daily cost rule of thumb.

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Airfare round trip to Indonesia

Lodging examples in Indonesia

Least expensive destination in the Western Hemisphere

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In the Western Hemisphere, I only had one country in my top ten, Argentina. Nevertheless, Argentina is a destination that is a good value. I found a roundtrip flight from Omaha to Buenos Aires, Argentina for $1356.63. According to Lonely Planet, a midrange daily price of $60-$200 will buy food and lodging. I budgeted $100 per day for expenses totaling $2100, making a grand total of $3456.63.

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To the right are actual hotel prices that I retrieved from Expedia.com. The hotels listed are in Buenos Aires. While there are very inexpensive rooming options like the Art Factory, these are shared dormitories. I would prefer to spend the extra money for the privacy a single room offers. The Hotel Star is $315.00 for the entire stay, and includes free breakfast.

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Dining in Argentina is inexpensive. I found a highly-rated restaurant that charges the equivalent of $4.34 for a large milanesa (an Italian breaded meat filet) dinner. With drink, an estimate of $10 per day is probably sufficient, with a trip total of $210.00.

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The grand total is $1881.63. This is considerably less than the Lonely Planet estimates.

Safety Factor

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Consider the safety factor in the destination you have chosen. Take a look the Global Peace Index rankings . Which country would be the safest? Where is the United States ranked?

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Indonesia and and Argentina are ranked similarly in the Global Peace Index. Indonesia is ranked 55 out of 163, and Argentina is ranked 66. The United States is ranked 121 out of 163. If the United States is ranked 121, these countries must be fairly safe. It is interesting that Indonesia is  ranked so high. Most countries at the top of the Global Peace Index are small countries population-wise. Indonesia is ranked fourth in world population. To put this into perspective let’s take a look at other countries in the top ten:

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Top Ten Most Populous Counties in the World: (Global Peace Ranking)

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    1.    China        112

    2.     India         136

    3.     USA         121

    4.    Indonesia      55

    5.     Pakistan     151

    6.    Brazil        106

    7.    Nigeria        148

    8.    Bangladesh      93

    9.    Russia        154

    10.    Mexico        140

What do you think of the Leffel quote:

"You'll learn far more than you ever did at a university.  

Remember the old days when people got a liberal arts education? They went to Oxford or Princeton to learn about history, politics, social studies, geography, religion, foreign languages, and economics. Well you'll learn far more about all those things by traveling than you ever can in college. Ask anyone in their 30's how much they remember about these subjects from their university classes. "Not much" will usually sum it up."

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While I understand the angle the author is coming from, I must disagree with this quote. On one hand, I agree travel is very important to the enrichment and eduction in one’s life, but it cannot replace a college education. One example is the skill of writing. In my opinion, writing is one of the most important skills learned in college. I struggle with the skill every day, and now realize how much effort it takes to become a good writer. Traveling makes for good experiences and a well-rounded individual, but it doesn’t replace the discipline and skill acquired in college.

Submitted by Stuart on February 23, 2019

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