Tax Refund = Vacation! 7 Amazing Trips That You Can Afford Right Now
The average American will get almost $3,000 as a tax refund. Sounds like it's time for a vacation! Here are seven great trips to spend your rebate on—and don't worry, with prices starting at $818 per couple, you'll still have some money left over.
There's no need to fear tax season, especially since tax refund checks average some $3,000. Financial planners may tell you to save it for a rainy day, but, not surprisingly, we say there's no better use for a windfall than a vacation. We are always on the lookout for great travel deals, so we priced out three nights' hotel for two people (and one for a family of four), including transportation and a budget of $125 per person for meals, plus activities from horseback riding tours to surf lessons (all prices were valid at time of writing, but are subject to change). Whether you want to take the family on a national park adventure or go on a romantic vacation to a European capital, we've outlined seven vacations that fit the budget and still leave enough in the bank to appease your accountant.
West Virginia: $818 per couple
West Virginia's mountainous eastern counties have a rustic, road-less-travelled appeal. Choose from dozens of scenic routes that ply the countryside with covered bridges, Civil War battlefields, and panoramic lookouts.
The 43-mile Highland Scenic Highway runs entirely through the Monongahela National Forest, one of the most ecologically diverse in the country, with 75 different species of trees and more than 225 different types of birds. But watching the wilderness out the car window isn't any fun. Take a two-hour horseback ride through the New River Gorge, which is a new breeding spot for Bald Eagles (800/787-3982, aceraft.com, $69 per person). Where to stay: Greenbrier County's Lewisburg (voted the Coolest Small Town of 2011!) is an oasis of Appalachian culture and Washington Street, the main thoroughfare, hums with cafes and antique shops. Soak up some local history by staying at the General Lewis Inn, a genteel inn situated on the site of an 1862 Civil War battlefield (301 East Washington St., 800/628-4454, generallewisinn.com, from $110).
The audit: Gas ($100)* + 3 nights hotel (from $330) + horseback riding ($138 for two) + meals ($250) = $818 per couple.
*Mileage based on driving round trip from Pittsburgh to Lewisburg.
Folly Beach, South Carolina: $947 per couple
The self-described "Edge of America" has loads of down-home Southern charm, with a lively fishing pier, string of crab shacks, and plenty of room to stretch out along six miles of sand.
Folly is a barrier island surrounded by waters populated with wildlife including loggerhead sea turtles to bottlenose dolphins. Get up close and personal on a kayak—Flipper Finders is the only full-service outfit in town, with a popular sunset tour amongst Folly's estuaries (843/588-0019, flipperfinders.com, $45 per person). You can't spend time here without having at least one seafood-centric meal: The Crab Shack is everything you want in a local joint: platters of fried seafood, buckets of large Carolina shrimp, and baskets of hush puppies (26 Center St., 843/588-3080, crabshacks.com). Life unfolds at a pleasingly slower pace here; if you need some "big city action," Charleston is a short 15-minute drive away. Where to Stay: Housed in a restored bungalow, Beachside Bed and Breakfast's colorful accommodations are anything but stuffy: Its "70s Room" even features an egg tub shower and an original 8-track player (107 E Erie Ave., 843/633-0184, follybeachsidebb.com, from $169).
The audit: Gas ($100)* + 3 nights hotel ($507) + kayak tour ($90 for two) + meals ($250) = $947 per couple
*Mileage based on driving round trip from Atlanta to Folly Beach.