Where to Spend Your Tax Refund This Year: 7 Great Trips We’re Planning Now
Listen up, Jetsetters: the effects of the 2018 tax reform bill are surfacing now, meaning you may owe—or get back—a much different number than last year. But not all hope is lost. According to the IRS, the average household return for 2019 is $2,915—more if you elect for direct deposit. That's still a good chunk of money—enough to get you somewhere warm and wonderful. Here are 7 incredible places to get your refund's worth.
Note: All prices were accurate when published but are subject to availability.
Roundtrip flights are currently hovering around $320 to Hamilton from New York City in April and May, according to Airfarewatchdog—which leaves you enough wiggle room to spend at least three nights in the gorgeous Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, whose recent renovation gave it its own infinity pool, an impressive art collection that includes works by Banksy and Warhol, a private beach club, and a beachfront restaurant overseen by celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson. Just don't get too distracted—you're going to want to carve out an afternoon to see the island’s famous Crystal Caves.
Getting to the outer Bahamian islands can be notoriously expensive this time of year, but flying into Nassau is still relatively affordable as long as you stay close by. We found April and May fares from New York City for around $335 (barring Memorial Day weekend). Once on the ground, you’re just a 10-minute taxi ride away from Baha Mar, where you can score a room at the stylishly luxe SLS for under $300 a night. (The Grand Hyatt is a little pricier.) We’d forgive you for never wanting to leave Cable Beach for the entirety of your stay, but if you do, there’s also an ESPA spa in addition to two pools—one of which is adults-only.
California dreamin'? Make it a reality this spring: Newark and LaGuardia flights bound for sunny San Diego are holding in the $250s for May and June—not bad for a quick trip across the country. Hotel La Jolla, just a short walk from La Jolla Shores, has a great location outside the city and even better interiors. We're talking black-and-white surf photos, Midcentury modern furniture, and balconies overlooking the Pacific in every room. A fleet of bicycles are available for taking a spin around the neighborhood (be sure to hit up the nearby pier), and a poolside bar awaits your return.
May fares to Miami are still relatively affordable at $257, and, while some of the beach's best and buzziest hotels may run you over your budget (we're looking at you, Faena and Four Seasons), you'll have no end of options to keep things well within your price range. If you're looking to penny-pinch without sacrificing on style or substance, we suggest looking into The Confidante in Mid Beach. Interiors are beachy and bright, the pool and beach are lined with Insta-worthy pastel loungers and umbrellas, and the menus at its social hangouts (including Southern-style bistro Bird & Bone and poolside Backyard, which serves tacos and drinks in coconuts) take less of a hit to your wallet than those celeb-chef-driven restos down the boardwalk.
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April is a pricier month to fly to NOLA, but wait around until May or June and you'll find that fares dip below the $300 mark from LaGuardia and JFK. Right now, we're all about The Drifter, a 1950s converted motel that gives off serious cool vibes—without the hefty price tag. The pool is its own scene, where food trucks set up shop on weekends and DJs spin to poolside drink service. You're a ways away from downtown (a streetcar can still get you there), but staying in affordable Mid-City will make your tax return stretch even farther. Hit up Vessel NOLA a few blocks from the hotel for Mediterranean bites and craft cocktails in a former church setting, or simply cross the street to Boswell’s for lip-smacking jerk chicken and calaloo.
May is one of the best times to visit this charming Southern city (fares are clocking in around $160 roundtrip for May dates from JFK, and become even cheaper for June). There's so much here to empty your wallet on, from the next-level dining scene (Husk and Sorghum + Salt are two standouts) to the boutique shops and vibrant nightlife, but there's plenty more ways to have fun without spending a dime. Dedicate a few hours to the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, whose exhibits are always free and open to the public, and a few more at Folly Beach, just a short drive south of downtown, before resting your head at the historic Vendue hotel in the city's French Quarter.
You'll need to cash out a bit more to fly to Montego Bay (rates from JFK are hanging in the mid $400s for May and June), but you won't mind when you find out how affordable—and boho-chic—your digs will be. Jake's, on Jamaica's quieter southern coast, is the low-key spot you've been waiting for. Picture 23 colorful cottages overlooking the garden or sea, an informal staff that make you feel right at home, and homey hangouts like Dougies Bar where you can play cards and backgammon and order up rum punch (or whatever you fancy) from 10 a.m. to sundown. Don’t miss a meal at Jack Sprat’s, whose sustainable seafood (and pizza!) is sourced locally.
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