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Summer vacation and tax refunds are the original dream team. Whether you’re getting a breather from work or organizing time as a family, that tax refund cushion can go a long way. Remember, you don’t have to rack up South Beach-levels of debt to have a fun Summer break. Instead, dip your toes into these fun, affordable tips.
1. Go camping
Ever been stuck at work as a perfect day unfolds outside? Make up for that lost time and go camping. Often you can borrow items like tents, camping stoves, and coolers — so don’t feel obligated to go on a buying spree. In fact, when you’re initially figuring out what kind of camper you are — car, backpacking, or remote — you’ll also learn what you do and don’t need. Borrowing gear is a great way to get started while keeping the financial stakes low.
Your state’s parks website is an excellent place to begin. Some will let you view options based on activity, like hiking, boating, or horseback riding. It may even allow you to reserve a spot online, but camping sites fill up fast during Summer, so start looking early.
2. Explore your city
Are there spaces you’ve always wanted to visit locally, but haven’t had the time? Sounds like a staycation is in order. Do a little research and you’ll find a ton of free-to-cheap ways to see your city through new eyes. For example: Visit your area’s art galleries — not only are they free, they’re a fast education in who is making great work right now. Feeling hungry? Great! You finally have time to eat your way through your city, so go on a food truck tour or rank your area’s best burgers.
Really want the vacation experience? Take a cheesy tour like an out-of-towner. You’ll sharpen your local trivia and see your city with new eyes.
3. Take a road trip
A tank of gas and a camera are all you need for a little adventure. If you like off-the-beaten-path destinations, check out sites like Atlas Obscura to find an extensive list of roadside oddities and attractions near you. Then, create a map of the stops you’d like to make and hit the road.
Not only will your trip result in great photos for the ‘gram, but you’ll also get to sing in the car with the windows rolled down. (Extra points if you stop for ice cream.)
4. Try out a new hobby
What if you set up an easel, grabbed some paints, and chilled out somewhere beautiful? Your painting might be terrible, but all great artists had a learning curve. Or, maybe there’s a sport you’ve always wanted to try, like curling or rowing. Check for local community groups and see about popping by. As you dig into your local resources, you’ll probably find groups ranging from tap dancers to beekeepers – and if you’re really lucky: tap dancing beekeepers.
Find your new tribe. Make some new friends. And fall headfirst into a new obsession.
Whether you participate as a family, individual, or team, volunteering creates memories that matter. Imagine using your Summer vacation to build homes for families in need instead of hitting the mall. That action defines your ethics and tightens your bonds. It also redirects your mindset to ‘what you have to give,’ versus ‘what’s in your bank account.’
Still need persuading? Consider this: How many mall foodcourt lunches stick out in your memory? Probably not too many. But you can bet that your family will always recall the time you ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a construction site together. Because that was the day you helped change the world.
Using TaxAct is a surefire way to maximize your refund. In fact, we’re backed by a 100K accuracy and maximum refund guarantee. How you choose to maximize your summer vacation is up to you. Whatever you choose, we hope it’s the best one yet.