Lonely Planet Writer

10 ways to spend your tax refund this year

It’s that time of year again: when Americans are either feeling anxious despair or rejoicing from the windfall of a tax refund. For the millions of people who expect to get money back from Uncle Sam this year (or already got one — good on you for filing early!) consider spending it on travel. Whether you explore a new destination or enjoy a relaxing staycation in your own town, here are some ideas for what to do with this year’s tax refund.

Table Mountain in Cape Town. South Africa has launched a tax refund campaign to entice travelers. Image by ©Alexcpt/Getty Images

According to the IRS, the average taxpayer refund this year is around $2900, and South African Tourism has launched its annual Tax Refund campaign to entice travelers to visit with a roundup of packages priced between $1700 and $3200. For example, Gate 1 is offering an eight-day South Africa Tour with game drives and flights, on which guests can check out Cape Town and go on safari in Johannesburg from $1699 per person, which includes a savings of $260 per person when you use the code SATD260.

For a memorable splurge, book the Refund Retreat package at one of Philadelphia’s two Kimpton Properties. For $1040, enjoy an overnight stay in the Presidential Suite at either the Hotel Palomar or Hotel Monaco, plus a 50-minute in-room couples’ massage and a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the end of tax season. (Available from 15-22 April when booked 72 hours in advance through a private booking concierge: Palomar: 215-525-9430, Monaco: 267-386-9430.)

The Schofield Kimpton Cleveland have a refund retreat special offer. Image by Courtesy of hotel

Other Kimpton properties around the country are also celebrating the end of tax season, including Chicago Hotel Allegro, where they’re running the 10.40 EZ Package — a nod to the name of the tax return form. During the month of April, book a room and for $10.40 more, you’ll also get a late checkout (2pm), plus a bottle of prosecco, gold chocolate coins, and an adult coloring book and pencils. Kimpton’s Schofield Hotel in Cleveland is running a special specifically for CPAs and tax accountants: those who show a business card get a complimentary bottle of wine during stays in May.

Aerial view of the beach in Santa Monica, CA.
Santa Monica, California, deals on offer by the Independent Collection hotels. Image by ©Melpomene/Shutterstock

Many of the Independent Collection hotels — including The Envoy in Boston, Pan Pacific in Seattle, Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington, D.C., and The Ambrose Hotel in Santa Monica, California — are knocking 17% off stays between tax day, 17 April, and 3 September (Labor Day), with some blackout dates. Booking is open from 17 April until 30 April.

In Clearwater, Florida, the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach is offering the “Wyndham Escape Tax-tics” package, with up to 30% off regular rates. Starting at $181 per night, the package also includes 20% off one spa treatment per person and a complimentary cocktail and appetizer at the eSKPades lobby bar. (There’s a two-night minimum, the booking window is from now until 25 May, and travel dates are from 17 April until 30 June, with blackout dates from 25-27 May.)

Ko Samui, Thailand, sun-soaked days swimming and snorkelling. Image by Getty Images

For the 18-35 set, Contiki is running a deal on their Thailand Island Hopper East trip, which is $736, down from $865, and includes nine days across Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Pha Ngan, taking in the Wat Phra Yai temple, Chaweng beach nightlife, and lots of sun-soaked days swimming and snorkelling.

If you’re heading to New York City, don’t miss the one-day-only deal to stay at the Omni Berkshire Place Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Book on 17 April for any night between 19 April and 31 August 2018, and get the second night for only $17. (Rates are normally between $385 – $785 during this time.) Or, stay at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, and get a second night for just $25. (Normal rates are between $280 and $310, on average.) Book by 20 April for a stay between 17 April and 22 December 2018.

With a special code, you can get 17% off suites at Sixty Hotels. Image by: courtesy of hotel. 

Luxury boutique brand SIXTY Hotels, with properties in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami, is offering guests a tax free stay and 17% off suites, using code TAXDAY18, between now and 27 December.

Unwind in Southern Florida after the tax season with a trip to ME Miami. Book a between 15-17 April for a stay before 31 May, and get 10% off available rates (7% sales tax and 3% Miami resort tax covered), plus a welcome bottle of Champagne and complimentary valet parking. (Call ME Miami directly 786-577-9700 or email Me.Miami@melia.com and mention the package. Blackout dates apply.)

Get 60% off a stay at the Solmar Hotels in Mexico with their tax day specials. Image by courtesy of Solmar

On the other side of the continent, head to the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula and choose one of the luxury Solmar Hotels & Resorts running tax day specials. Get 60% off your stay (at all properties with the exception of Quinta del Sol) between now until 20 December 2018. (Book today until 31 July, 2018.)

For a little extra relaxation, travelers who book a six-night or longer vacation at all-inclusive Caribbean resort Beaches can get a complimentary $150 Red Lane Spa credit from now until 17 April to put toward a treatment like a relaxing massage.

There is $775 off the cost of a 10-day family trip Down Under with Springboard Vacations. Image by ©seanscott/Getty Images

Take advantage of several Australia deals, including a 10-night ultimate family trip with Springboard Vacations, with stops in Sydney, Kangaroo Island, and the Great Barrier Reef, and including all accommodations, airport transfers, guided tours, and more. From $2375 per person, $775 off the usual rate, for travel between now and 31 March 2019.

Travelers who can put off instant gratification can book next winter’s vacation now at Seven Stars Resort & Spa at Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. Book before 30 April 2018 for 40 percent off all room types for travel between 3 January and 20 August 2019.