How to spend your tax refund on travel — no matter how much you get back
April 24, 2016 at 1:45 am
In two to three weeks when you peer into your bank account for the 46th time looking for that refund, you will finally see it, the money that you earned in the previous year that they were kind enough to give back to you. So what to do with that money? Go somewhere! Here are some suggestions for where to travel with your tax refund based on how much you’re getting back.
$500 or less
So you have a little bit of money, but not that much. With a couple hundred dollars, it might not be possible to venture too far from home, but if you're diligent and you find a flight deal, you can certainly make the great escape. You’ve got a few options:
- Use the money to start your travel saving fund. This might be the exact start that you need to really begin planning for your one big vacation this year. Here are a few tips for how to add to this fund.
- Have a staycation. Sometimes a vacation is just about getting away from your everyday life. Hop on Hotwire.com or Airbnb to find a hotel or beautiful home to stay in for the weekend. Whether it's a girl's weekend, a bae-staycation or a solo travel moment, staying within 100 miles of your home can be that reset button you need. Think beautiful cabin in the mountains, visiting a small historic American town, making your way into the big city, or going to a resort/spa combo for some pampering.
- Do a quick four day, three night getaway to the Caribbean. Sites such as Orbitz and Expedia can help you find deals that include airport and hotel, some that come in just under $500.
$500 - $1,000
Alright, so you have a little more money to play with... grab your passport! The cost of travel has really gone down in recent years and the rise of flight deals has made traveling very, very affordable. Last year, a few friends and I went to the United Arab Emirates, I paid $218 for a nonstop flight from DC to Abu Dhabi on one of the world’s best airlines. Here are two options for those in this refund range:
- Put your money in a savings account and sign up for some flight deals. When you see the deal you want, pull that money out of savings and buy that flight! This article will tell you exactly how to save money on travel. A few countries have been on sale recently including Colombia, Belize, Martinique and Guadeloupe, so book your flight, download Duolingo and brush up on some Spanish or French. The cheapest accommodations are most often found using Airbnb, but if that isn’t your thing, hotwire.com and hotels.com are good for deals on hotels.
- Staying relatively close to the U.S. will be your best bet in terms of saving on flights, so think South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Also heading to countries where the dollar is strong against the local currency will make that tax refund go even further.
$1,000 - $3,000
This refund range could allow for a luxury vacation to a Caribbean island or even will allow you to travel further to places as far away as Thailand and Cambodia or even South Africa or Zanzibar.
If you decide to head to the Caribbean to lay on a picturesque beach to sip tropical drinks, try Curacao, Turks and Caicos or St. Bart’s for life in the lap of luxury. It will leave you feeling better than any Louis Vuitton bag ever could! Flights to these islands should be less than $600 as long as you book in advance. Be sure to sign up for travel alerts on Airfarewatchdog.com to ensure that you don't miss a flight deal to your dream destination.
Flights to Asia and Africa could run you around $1,000 depending on which U.S. airport you’re leaving from and the time of year. For those at the higher end of the budget, that leaves you with $2,000 for hotel and spending money, which is more than enough should you choose to explore southeast Asia or an African nation. If heading to Zanzibar, check out Taste Makers Africa's list of the best Airbnbs.
$3,000 - $5,000
This budget could allow you to experience once-in-a-lifetime trips, whether that be heading to the bottom of the globe and going on an expedition to Antarctica or spending an afternoon with a family of mountain gorillas, of which less than 1,000 remain on the planet. East African safaris are some of the best in the world and Uganda and Rwanda have something unique to offer in particular — chance encounters with mountain gorillas.
Can I have a dollar? With this budget, you have two options: Maximize your travel or BALL OUT. The choice really depends on your travel goals and how much free time you have to travel. A few options:
- Plan three different international trips. You can very easily do three trips for $2,000 to maximize your money. This will allow you to take a few different vacations throughout the year.
- You could buy an around-the-world ticket, take a hiatus from your job and set out on a two-month adventure. The major airline groups, i.e. SkyTeam, One World and Star Alliance offer around-the-world tickets.
- You could go to the Maldives, Bora Bora or the Seychelles, each vacation spots of the rich and fabulous. With a budget of more than $5,000, you could certainly do some damage!