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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Using Your Tax Refund for Vacation Time 4.18.20

Did you know that almost half of Americans are either not using any or all of their vacation time? According to Raddisson and USA Today, 48% use less than half of the 18 vacation days they earn from work. That is a travesty in my book. Seriously. You work so hard all year and you never reward yourself? Sadness! Is it because they don’t think it’s enough time to go anywhere and actually relax? One thing is for sure, most people feel like they need a vacation from their vacation when they go back to work. As much as I know there will be a big stack of paper waiting for me on my return, I need that time off more. One to two weeks of getting away is worth one or two days of harder work than usual. And with tax season ending, now is the perfect time to start planning a getaway of some kind.

I know, I know, like me you see house repairs and bills and probably even school-related expenses for you or your children (or both!), but if you don’t have that time to recharge your batteries, then you will be running on empty and feel more stressed each day. Trust me. You need it. So, figure out what part of your refund you can reasonably live without and put that towards your next vacation…and make it soon. Like within the next 6 months if you can. In fact, if you have the ability to travel in the fall, plan for an autumn getaway, because you can get more for your money, go further and also avoid the summer crowds. Just because you don’t have a lot to spend doesn’t mean you can’t go somewhere worth traveling to.

Budget Travel has come up with 7 affordable vacations you can take now, starting at under $1,000 per COUPLE. Not only are they budget-friendly, but they aren’t your typical vacations. The 7 destinations included are: West Virginia ($818), Folly Beach, SC ($947), Portland, OR ($1,145 – if you choose to come here, please let me know!), North Coast, Dominican Republic ($1,334), Amsterdam ($1,942), Zion National Park ($2,040 – You can visit St. George), Iceland ($2,210). Now, even if some of these places sound boring, don’t judge them based on their names – or prices – and let Budget Travel tell you why they are worth visiting and what you should see or do. Of course, Travel + Leisure has voted Portland the #1 Summer Family Vacation Destination, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have anything to do in the other months. Portland is packed with tons of stuff, and if BT doesn’t convince you, I’m sure I can. You can also follow my Examiner column for cheap Portland activities.

If none of these destinations tickle your fancy, you could always check out the top 10 budget destinations for 2012:
  1. Azores off the coast of Lisbon
  2. Egypt
  3. San Diego, CA (visit Shamu!)
  4. Canada’s eastern seaboard
  5. Belize
  6. San Antonio, TX
  7. Poland
  8. Taipei, Taiwan
  9. Kansas City, MO
  10. Athens, Greece (terrible economy = travel bargains!)
For more info on these destination, like where to stay, when to visit and what kind of budget a trip there might fit in, check out the full article – also from Budget Travel.

Remember, sign up for travel alert emails, so you know when prices drop on your preferred destination(s). It’s the easiest way to save money, besides stalking my Facebook page for deals. Another great way to find deals, especially if you aren’t all that set on where to go and just want to go SOMEWHERE within your budget, check out the FareCompare Where-To-Go Getaway Map. Choose your date range and home airport to see rates across the globe!

Don’t forget the rules of packing light when you travel, because it will only save you more. No bags to check means no crazy baggage fees, less stuff to lug around (happy backs are nice on vacation, as are happy husbands/boyfriends) and no hanging around at the luggage carousel for ages. I bet you like to save time and money. I sure do! I’m also a big fan of being able to wheel my bag right off the plane, through the airport and get on my vacation ASAP.

Do you have plans for your tax refund that involves getting away from home?

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