It’s tax refund season, and according to the IRS the average refund so far this year has been $3,034, which means it’s time to start planning an awesome trip. Here are a couple incredible trips you didn’t realize you might now be able to afford.

1. Eight weeks in Europe

With the Euro at historic lows, this is the year to go to Europe. Not including airfare, the average tax refund can cover about eight weeks of backpacking through Europe — that’s almost two whole months to explore the castles, medieval cities, and natural wonders of the continent that birthed western civilization. Alternately, with airfare you can still have a solid five-and-a-half weeklong tour of the continent, assuming airfare is $1,000 or less. It’s pretty easy to find cheap plane tickets with a little advanced planning, flexibility with dates, and flying into or out of less expensive airports like Milan, Rekyvek, etc.


These trip lengths are based on a fairly conservative budget of fifty euros a day to cover all daily traveling costs including bed, food, transportation, sights, and incidentals. Some cities will cost more or less than others, as will some of the must-see sites, but in the end, 50 Euros a day is surprisingly doable. It’s also possible to do it for even less — Jim and I averaged only 35 Euros a day/person on our first trip together to Europe in 2010 with a combination of hostels, b&bs, picnics, food stands, regular dining, and lots of sightseeing/exploring.

2. Three months in Southeast Asia

While Europe might give the best bang for your buck now when compared to previous years, some places like Southeast Asia are always a good deal. Including airfare, a tax refund of $3,034 should be able to cover a trip between two months and three months long, dependent mostly on where you travel and who you ask and how frugally you’re willing to live while on the road.

Rain Season in Cambodia
Rain Season in Cambodia, via Gzooh

Unlike Europe, I do not have firsthand experience in Southeast Asia. All I can say it has been near the top of my list for years now, and everyone I know who has been has had beautiful, life-altering experiences while traveling there. Our friends Mark and Britnee Johnston have been traveling the world for almost a year now, and recently spent a good amount of time in Southeast Asia. Looking at Mark’s photo galleries on their blog is enough to fill anyone with wanderlust for that beautiful region.

— Laura Rowley


Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

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