Tax season doesn't have to be a drag. The average refund in the U.S. is about $3,000—which means it's a great excuse to take that trip you've been daydreaming about. Here are five adventures to explore with your extra cash.
Weeklong Wanderlust Journey Across Jordan
Full of myth and still mysterious, Jordan presents landscapes and cultural sites that are out-of-this-world stunning. While the nation is bordered by countries that keep many travelers at bay, Jordan is safe and ripe for adventure. From the ancient rose-colored stone city of Petra to desert safaris and vast valleys of granite and sandstone, this oft overlooked Middle Eastern gem is a destination well within reach thanks to that healthy tax rebate. The best part? You don't need a one-way ticket or oodles of time to see the country; travelers can easily see the highlights in 10 days or less. But it's best to act quickly if you've set your sights on Jordan. The summers there can be brutal.
The way to do it: For travelers who would rather leave the planning to the experts, National Geographic Journeys, a partnership with G Adventures, offers a weeklong "Explore Jordan" trip, following an overland route from Amman to the Dead Sea. The high-value package (excluding airfare) starts at $1,599 per person based on double room occupancy and includes transport between destinations, activities, accommodations, and ten meals.
Getting there: A round-trip ticket from New York City (JFK) to Amman (AMM) via Turkish Airlines can be had for less than $700.
Getting around on the ground: You can leave the stress to National Geographic Journeys. That's what you're paying them for.
Two-Week Road Trip Through Utah's "Mighty Five"
This year, America is celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service, so there's no better time than now to spend your refund exploring some of the country's most precious treasures. There are 59 full-fledged national parks across the U.S., but Utah's "mighty five"—Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands—offer a unique proposition for landscape-loving travelers: They are in such close proximity that they can be explored in one fell swoop over a relatively short period of time. But it's best to take your time to absorb all these natural wonderlands have to offer.
The way to do it: Embark on a quintessential national park road trip with Zion as your launchpad. Your two-week trek into the wilds of Utah will take you through some of the Beehive State's most dramatic scenery. Plan your route with this handy itinerary as your guide. The trip is all about soaking in the great outdoors, so get ready for some in-park camping. Prices vary depending on the campsite, but most nightly fees ($20 on average for tent sites; $30 for RV sites) won't break the bank.
Getting there: We found a round-trip airfare from JFK to Las Vegas (LAS), a short drive from Zion, for just over $250 on Delta.
Getting around on the ground: Most midsize SUV rentals will run you $30 to $35 per day, but if you want to up the adventure factor, JUCY RV Rentals doles out souped-up camper minivans that come complete with a basic kitchen and double bed at an average rate of $57 a day from its location in Las Vegas. You'll want to pick up an $80 America the Beautiful pass, which will get you into any National Park Service site in the nation for a year.
Eight-Day Cycling Tour of Croatia's Dalmatian Coast
If the soon-to-debut new season of Game of Thrones has you dreaming of Westeros, you already have Croatia on the brain. One of Europe's rising stars, the country has landed on many must-see-destination lists for its shimmering beaches, medieval splendor, and affordability, as well as its glam factor of being a prime filming location for HBO's cult series. Summers are peak season here, with throngs of tourists descending like White Walkers upon Croatia's winsome (and long) Adriatic coast, but May and June offer the perfect opportunity to beat the crowds.
The way to do it: To experience Croatia in all its glory, steady your legs for a guided cycling trip along its smaller (and arguably more beautiful) Dalmatian Coast with Exodus Travels.
Getting there: Round-trip tickets from JFK to Dubrovnik (DBV) will run you about $900.
Getting around on the ground: Starting at $1,275, the intimate (six-16 person) tour includes four to five days of fully supported biking on flat and rolling terrain (mostly on the dreamy islands of Hvar and Korcula) and finishes up with a two-night stay in Dubrovnik, breakfast every day, and all attendant accommodations.
For die-hard GOT fans only: Tack an additional day onto your trip and splurge on a Game of Thrones walking tour that will take you through all of the major filming sites in Dubrovnik.
Eat (and Train) Your Way Across Taiwan
Taiwan thrives off the high-intensity pulse of its heart: Taipei. You'll need some energy to keep up the pace, so it's a good thing that this small island nation (it's slightly larger than Maryland) brings some of Asia's best eats to the table. A fusion of Chinese, Japanese, and aboriginal ingredients, Taiwanese cuisine is a true melting pot of flavors that travelers can sample at iconic Taipei spots like Ningxia Night Market or food stalls along Yongkang Street. While you're in town, you'll want to try xiaolongbao (steamed buns or dumplings)—especially the pork-belly variety, gua bao—deep-fried taro, and ta'a noodles. But for $70, you can join a food tour of the Taiwanese capital's famous Xinyi District with Taipei Eats to make sure you don't miss a dish.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
The way to do it: Beyond its cuisine, Taiwan is doubly blessed with beautiful beaches as well as traditional temples and palaces. And getting around is easy thanks to the country's high-speed and highly efficient rail system. Snag yourself a flexible three-day pass for $105 and journey south to Tainan, Taiwan's oldest city and crucial to its cultural identity, then continue on to the ultramodern port city of Kaohsiung.
Getting there: Fly from New York City (EWR) to Taipei (TPE) for around $800 via United.
Dance the Night Away in Argentina's Capital of Cool
While the rest of the world has its eyes on 2016 Summer Olympics host Brazil, now's a good time to home in on Argentina. Treat yourself to a cosmopolitan getaway in Buenos Aires, nicknamed the Paris of South America for its stylish European feel. As night falls, the local porteños come out to play with an aperitivo in hand. The city's Palermo neighborhood—particularly in the Sohoo, Viejo, and Hollywood subdistricts—is the host of the party, its arms open wide with trendy cocktail bars and crowds that will welcome the sun with you come morning. Check out the club scene at Liv or go the classic B.A. route with a trip to La Viruta for some tango dancing.
The way to do it: As much of the action happens at night in Buenos Aires, you'll want to have a comfy home base to recover from all that dancing (or sleep off that hangover). Live like the locals do by renting yourself an apartment through Airbnb. The average price runs about $70 a night.
Getting there: Jet from JFK to Buenos Aires (EZE) for $632 on Aeromexico.