12 Places to Travel on Your Tax Refund

From Charleston to the Dominican Republic, Iceland to Washington, DC, here are our top picks for where to go with your tax refund.

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Go Biking

Go Biking

Reduce your carbon footprint and participate in Earth-friendly transportation options like biking, walking and taking public transit. These alternatives are often cheaper than taking a cab or renting a car. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Reusable Bottles

Reusable Bottles

A plastic bottle often travels thousands of miles before you buy it, so carry a reusable container or drink locally sourced water when you’re on the go. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Non-Stop Flights

Non-Stop Flights

Book non-stop flights whenever possible. A significant percentage of a plane’s carbon emissions come from takeoff and landing. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Buy Local

Buy Local

When and wherever you travel, buy local products whenever possible instead of buying products that have been flown or shipped in from overseas. However, do not buy souvenirs or other products made from endangered animals or plants. In most cases, you can't get them through customs anyway. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Working Farms

Working Farms

Stay at working farm that also functions as inn. This unique experience helps travelers connect with an area’s agricultural heritage -- and they cost less than hotels. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Recycle Trash

Recycle Trash

Staying at a hotel? Make sure you ask about the hotel’s recycling program, and sort your trash accordingly. If your hotel doesn't recycle, consider taking your empty bottles or other items home and recycle them there. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Hike Marked Trails

Hike Marked Trails

Don’t veer off marked trails when hiking, and maintain a safe distance from any animals you encounter. Deposit your trash in marked receptacles or take it with you when you leave. Light campfires only in areas where permitted and be sure they're completely extinguished before you leave. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Rent Hybrid Car

Rent Hybrid Car

Choose the smallest vehicle or a hybrid when renting a car for travel. Decline any "free" upgrades that can cost you more in gas. Consider renting an economy car if your personal vehicle is a large, gas guzzler. You'll save gas and avoid putting miles on your own vehicle. 960 1280

Robert Scoble, flickr  

Stay at Green Hotel

Stay at Green Hotel

Las Vegas is actually at the forefront of green building, and the Palazzo Hotel Vegas is one of the largest hotels in the U.S. to receive LEED certification (along with the huge Aria and Vdara City Center hotels). Ninety-five percent of the building's structural steel and 26 percent of its concrete is recycled material. The swimming pools are heated by solar power, and the hotel claims to save enough energy annually to light a 100-watt light bulb for 12,100 years. 960 1280

Oyster.com  

Eat Local

Eat Local

Eating locally is one of the best ways to support a community. Try to shop at farmers’ markets and dine at restaurants with locally sourced ingredients. 960 1280

William Murphy, flickr  

Cut Lines With Pre-Screening

Cut Lines With Pre-Screening

Signing up for TSA PreCheck can save time via dedicated lines where shoes stay on and laptops remain packed. Fast Track Global Entry makes sense for jetsetters with disposable income who don’t want to stand in the customs line. Both require advance paperwork and fees. 960 1280

JordiRamisa, iStock  

Pack Smart

Pack Smart

Pros pack with clothes at the bottom and oddly shaped items such as a hair dryer and shoes on top. Pack all the jewelry you will wear that day in an outside pocket of your carry-on, and then put it on once you pass through security so you don't have to take it off and put it on again. This enables the screener to work faster, saving time and keeping you moving. Savvy travelers also carry nothing on their person: no wallet, no keys, no gum. 960 1280

leminuit, iStock  

Get Alerts

Get Alerts

Many security checkpoint wait times are accessible via an airport’s website. Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta uses Trak-a-Line and will even email you when a line gets longer. MiFlight does the same for 50 major airports. Traffic jams can also put the brakes on smooth sailing. Check your drive time on an app like Waze, which gives you an ETA and reroutes you if there’s heavy traffic. 960 1280

laflor, iStock  

Be Liquid Free

Be Liquid Free

There are plenty of TSA-friendly concentrated waterless products and collapsible refillable water bottles so that flying through security is a breeze. For example, Lush Cosmetics offers dry shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste in tablet form and solid moisturizing bars that are great for an in-flight refresher. Silicone Bubi Bottles roll up, fit in the palm of your hand and come in many sizes. 960 1280

trekandshoot, iStock  

Carry On, Carry On

Carry On, Carry On

Don’t check bags unless you’re going on a month-long adventure. You’ve already waited around at check-in, don’t create even more opportunities to wait in lines. 960 1280

SkyRoll  

Use Airport Apps

Use Airport Apps

Flio connects you to airport WiFi connection and helps locate amenities like power outlets, play areas for kids and connecting gates. If you’re delayed or have some extra terminal time, FlySmart has reviews of terminal restaurants and shops by fellow travelers. The directionally challenged will love iFly, which uses GPS to help you reach that connecting gate without walking the wrong way.

 

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Flio  

Dress Like a Pro

Dress Like a Pro

Invest in a “plane outfit” consisting of classic items in dark or neutral colors made from breathable fabrics like cotton and cashmere. A nice poncho, like this one from Minnie Rose, subs as a blanket and is easily packed. Shorts, flip-flops and warm-ups make you look like an amateur. No gate agent is going to randomly upgrade a passenger wearing anything that makes noise when you walk. 

 

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Scott Goldberg, Minnie Rose  

Don't Cut Corners

Don't Cut Corners

Don’t skimp on your luggage. Look for pieces that keep all your documents and devices in one easily accessible place. Quality bags will hopefully last a lifetime; a cheap one could fall apart on an unexpected layover in Toledo.  960 1280

PeakDesign  

Mind Your Manners

Mind Your Manners

If you think you’re stressed, think of the men and women who do it every day. Should an emergency occur, they’re the ones who will help keep calm and even save lives, so show some respect. Treated with courtesy, a flight attendant might even slide you a free beverage or extra peanuts. One polite gesture can go a long way, on that long 2,134 mile route from ATL to LAX.  960 1280

andresrimaging, iStock  

Smart Bag

Smart Bag

A duffel bag or large backpack or other soft bag is the preferred choice for frequent travelers because it can be easily crammed into the overhead bin and is far less likely to be taken away from you to be checked at the gate. 960 1280

  

Easy Razor Cover

Easy Razor Cover

Ever reached into your toiletries case and met the wrong end of a razor? Ouch. Place a ten-cent binder clip over the razor head to prevent any nicks.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Cool It

Cool It

Running late with a hot curling iron or hair straightener? Cool it down quickly with a cold, wet washcloth. Just be careful not to touch the hot part. If the tool is still warm, use an oven mitt as a sheath to insulate heat in your bag.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Store Small Amounts of Liquids

Store Small Amounts of Liquids

Going on a short trip and don’t want to pack large bottles? A contact lens case is great for storing concealer, foundation, lotions, lip color and more.   960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

No Loss Floss

No Loss Floss

No one likes to floss, so it stands to reason that no one will steal dental floss. The innards pop out easily and make a great place to stow valuables in your suitcase.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Keep Track of Bobby Pins

Keep Track of Bobby Pins

You can use a mint box to hold hair clips and bobby pins but a card takes up much less space in a toiletries bag. 960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Dollar Store Wine Sleeve

Dollar Store Wine Sleeve

Save money by packing your own wine. Keep it safe with a water floatie. We recommend this for road trips and cruises, not checked luggage.   960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Tangle-Free Necklaces

Tangle-Free Necklaces

Arriving at your final destination to find your necklaces tangled or broken can ruin the best of vacations. Before embarking, unlatch, string half the necklace through a drinking straw and re-clasp on the outside. Small ones work for thin gold chains while smoothie straws are great for thicker strands.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Makeshift Top

Makeshift Top

Smoothie straws also make a great sheath for both eye and lip liners, which frequently lose tops in handbags. Just use the bendy part of the straw to cover. If the pencil is narrower than the straw, clog the end with a little tissue.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Upcycled Jewel Box

Upcycled Jewel Box

A pillbox is great for medications, but it’s also a fine place to store and pack jewelry while traveling. The separate containers keep your bling organized, easy to see and not in one pile.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Extra Padding

Extra Padding

A simple padded mailer envelope gives your tablet or phone extra cushion and protection in a suitcase. Some are even waterproof.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Hat Trick

Hat Trick

Here’s another option if you don’t have a case. Keep your device cozy in a winter hat to prevent scratching.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

For the Shopaholics

For the Shopaholics

If you’re traveling with the intent of shopping, consider packing a suitcase within a suitcase. If you don’t, you’ll end of buying another (probably overpriced) suitcase for the return flight. And chances are you won’t use it again. We packed a week’s worth of clothes that fit into one carry-on bag within a 22-inch rolling suitcase. 960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Hidden in Plain Sight

Hidden in Plain Sight

Reuse sunglass cases for packing jewelry and other valuables. The hard shell absorbs shock and the ordinary item thwarts would-be thieves.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Tin Tip

Tin Tip

Reuse mint tins and soap tins to hold necessities like ear swabs and bandages.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Snack Hack

Snack Hack

Trying to stay healthy on your road trip? Protect fruits that are easily bruised or punctured with a Koozie. Plus, you’ll have an extra koozie for drinks when you get to your destination.   960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Passport Hideaway

Passport Hideaway

No safe? A DVD shell is a great spot to hide your passport as the inner clip holds it in place nicely.   960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Save Those Wine Gift Bags

Save Those Wine Gift Bags

Reuse a cloth wine bag for delicates, like lingerie and bathing suits. And if you need a hostess gift at your destination, consider it the gift bag that just keeps on giving.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Phone Boombox

Phone Boombox

Save real estate in your bag by leaving the Bluetooth speaker at home and using your phone. All you need is a glass from the mini bar. Place the phone inside and the sound amplifies.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Bonus Outlets

Bonus Outlets

Going abroad? Pack a power strip along with a three-prong adapter. Now you can charge multiple devices at the same time. 960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

The next time you buy new sheets or pillow cases, save the zippered plastic cases. They're great for travel makeup cases.  960 1280

Akemi Hiatt  

Catch All

Catch All

Cord catchers are great for your tech gear but they're also great for organizing all the random things at the bottom of a purse or carry-on.  960 1280

Holly Aguirre  

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