Lonely Planet Writer

Think you'll get money back after Tax Day? Here’s how to get the best travel deals with your return

According to research, spending money on experiences rather than things is the key to enduring happiness — a timely reminder as U.S. tax day approaches on 18 April. Up to 80% of tax filers typically get a refund that averages $2800.

Start planning a trip with your tax return.
Start planning a trip with your tax return. Image by Westend61/Getty Images

This year, forgo a shopping spree for a restorative vacation, whether an exciting urban escape or a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Hotels and travel companies around the world are offering specials and promotions to help you make the most of your refund, and make lasting memories.

Outside of the United States., find great deals on bucket list destinations. With Virgin’s “Australia on Uncle Sam” package, see some of the country’s top locales in one trip — including Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Great Ocean Road — for $2599 per person (based on double occupancy), down from $4003 per person. Travel from 15 April through 21 June, or 24 July to 18 September.

Herd of elephants walking on trail in Kruger Park, South Africa.
Herd of elephants walking on a trail in Kruger Park, South Africa. Image by ©Michael Heffernan/Lonely Planet

South African Tourism has put together nine trip packages from different tour operators, priced from $1500- $3000, with some including airfare. For example, Indus is offering the Super South Africa package with stops in Cape Town, Soweto, and a game drive through Kruger National Park to see the big five — lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopards — for $2000, and Lion World Travel has a Classic South Africa 9-day package, with stops in Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula, and a safari at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. Prices for that start at $2999 per person, including airfare.

STA Travel is enticing travelers to “Have Less, Do More” with two “TaxPeriences” packages. One is an 8-day adventure exploring Thailand’s Northern hill tribes and villages, with stops in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, starting at  $1238, while the second trip is called the Cambodia Experience. Starting in Bangkok, travelers will then head to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, and finally Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Prices per person start at $1642.

Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia.
Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia. Image by ©Waj/Shutterstock

Friendly Planet has a timely discount for their 6-day Dazzling Dubai package, which includes airfare, accommodations, tours, and daily breakfast for $1499 — a savings for $500 when booked before 2 May using code DUBAISALE17.

For those aged 18-35, Contiki is offering 15% off a curated selection of tours until 2 May, including Japan Unrivaled. Explore the Tsukiji Fish Markets in Tokyo, Miyajima Island by boat, experience traditional footbaths in the Takayama hot springs, and more on the 13-day trip. The price per person starts at $3656, a saving of up to $950, and includes accommodation, fourteen meals, transportation within Japan, and guides.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto Japan.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto Japan. Image by ©jannoon028/Shutterstock

America’s National Parks are conveniently celebrating National Parks Week from 15-23 April. On 15-16 April, as well as 22-23 April, visit any park for free. Programs and activities are planned throughout the week, including Junior Ranger Day on 15 April, when kids can earn badges and take part in fun and educational programs at parks around the country.

Several Kimpton Hotel properties across America are also running fun promotions, including “Relax After You Tax” at Philadelphia’s Hotel Monaco  and Hotel Palomar. At either location, take an impromptu break in a luxe suite and relax with a couples massage, chef-prepared snacks, and a bottle of sparkling wine for $1040. Stay by 18 April. At Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro in Chicago, the “Tax-Cation” Package includes 17.4% off accommodations (to cover the city’s accommodation tax), a welcome bottle of Prosecco and chocolate gold coins, and a $25 food and beverage credit for the hotel’s 312 Chicago or Bar Allegro.

New York City.
New York City. Image by ©Tony Shi Photography/Getty Images

Independent Collection is featuring No Taxation Without Vacation, with specials on several of their boutique hotels around the country. At the NU Hotel in Brooklyn, situated a short walk from the Brooklyn Bridge and the waterfront parks, book by 18 April to save up to 30% on stays from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. Across the East River, the Duane Street Hotel in Tribeca is also running the same promotion. At California’s Hotel Milo Santa Barbara or Sanctuary Beach Resort in Monterey Bay, stay in oceanfront accommodations from now until 25 May and save 18%. Two Washington, D.C. hotels are also running specials, including the Capitol Hill Hotel and the St. Gregory Hotel. Book by 18 April to save up to 18% on stays from now until Labor Day.

At the luxury The Time New York Hotel in Times Square, guests who make a reservation on tax day, Monday 18 April for a future stay will get a discount of up to 20% on room rates, plus two buy-one-get-one drink vouchers at the hotel’s bar. Use code ‘Taxthat.

Unwind on a cruise — Royal Caribbean is offering every third night free on destinations like the Caribbean, Cuba, and Alaska. Book by 21 April and travel after 17 May.

Club Med has a flash sale, ending on Wednesday, 19 April. (Travel dates range from 30 April to 26 August, 2017, with no blackout dates.) Get a room upgrade to either a deluxe or sea view room at Club Med Punta Cana, Cancun Yucatan, Ixtapa Pacific, Sandpiper Bay, Columbus Isle, or Turkoise.

This story was updated on 18 April 2017.
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