Spend Your Tax Refund on You
If you are lucky enough to have a tax refund on the way, consider spending it on something fun. It may sound irresponsible, but if you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you expect to carry on? To be clear, you should definitely take care of the necessities first—rent, equipment investments, other upcoming expenses—but then make yourself next on the list.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has said that almost 83 percent of individual federal income tax returns resulted in refunds. The average refund was a whopping $3,120. That seems like a lot to us, but if you can’t trust the IRS’s bookkeeping, who can you trust?
So what kind of fun can we get into with $3,120?
Travel within the United States
Depending on where you live, these destinations may sound exotic or mundane. The cost of getting to these places will certainly depend on your location, and we’re spending all $3,120. You may want to save a little.
Even if you live down the street from Oregon’s Crater Lake, it does the body and mind good to go visit this extraordinary natural wonder. The entrance fee to this stunning lake within a mountaintop in Oregon’s wooded Crater Lake National Park is only $30 per car, so our remaining $3,090 can be spent on airfare and a really top-notch camper.
On the opposite side of the country, you can fly into Portland, Maine for a relaxing week in Bar Harbor. The scenic town with fewer than 6,000 residents offers superb kayaking in its placid bay, hiking, sightseeing boat tours, and of course, Maine’s famed lobster.
If you are looking for something a little more tropical with your lobster, consider the Caribbean spiny lobster found in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There’s no need for a passport since these are U.S. territories. These gorgeous islands were hit hard by hurricanes last summer, but much of their infrastructure is back or bouncing back quickly, especially in tourist areas. Don’t expect everything to be perfect—the power may go out at times, and you may still see some debris on roadsides. Overall, however, these two island clusters are green and vibrant with unbeatable culture and fantastic beaches. Consider driving or hiking Puerto Rico’s sprawling El Yunque rainforest or the Virgin Islands National Park on the island of St. John, where hiking, snorkeling, and sunbathing are a way of life. Your $3,000 will be well spent and much appreciated in both recovering economies, where many hotels are still rebuilding. You may have the best luck (and fun) in a private rental villa.
It’s no secret that New Orleans is home to unique culture, architecture, music, history—and a legendary party-friendly atmosphere. What’s often forgotten, somehow, is its mind-blowing food. We’ve never had a bad meal in New Orleans, nor have we had an overpriced meal. If anything, restaurants should be charging more for the astonishing jambalaya (a rice dish like Spain’s paella), gumbo (a thick, spicy soup), fritters (fried fish, conch, or alligator balls), po’ boys (a sandwich), and sugary beignets (like a doughnut). There’s so much more to eat in The Big Easy that we could go on forever about it.
Travel Outside the United States
It may be difficult to find positive news about Iran these days, but we’ve heard nothing but positive things about trips to its capital, Tehran. It offers history, architecture, and a surprisingly fun-loving culture. Literally everyone we know who has been there comes back with a deep appreciation for the city and loads of beautiful photographs.
Paris is always near the top of our list of places to go. For all that can be written about the city—the legendary museums, classic architecture, world-changing monuments, romance, and endless charm – people often forget how walkable the city is. You can get from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre to Notre Dame in almost no time on foot, but don’t rush! Stop for as many little coffees and glasses of champagne as you like. You’ll need to mind your $3,000 budget here, but played correctly, you can do it all.
Hong Kong will also swallow your money quickly, but most of that will go toward airfare. Once there, however, you’ll be immersed in one of the world’s great melting pots of cultures, sights, sounds, and smells. Why are we traveling with our stomachs in mind? We must be hungry.
These are just some ideas. Obviously, there are so many other places to visit. Where would you go?
Waiting until the last minute to finish your taxes?
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