Tax season is a drag, but if you’re lucky, it comes with a fantastic silver lining: a sweet, sweet tax refund to play with. Why not spend that extra cash on a life-changing adventure? If you want to venture out of your comfort zone to corners of the world that can’t be easily tacked onto business travel, these are the epic trips to spend your tax refund on.
Cruising To Antarctica
Life doesn’t get much more adventurous than visiting Antarctica. There’s more than one way to make it happen, depending on your travel personality. On the one hand, you can take an adventurous expedition or “fly-cruise” (flying in and then boarding a boat) via an icebreaker ship, making stops on key points of the continent. If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxing, you can opt for a more traditional cruise that makes a pit stop in Antarctica. For example, Holland America has a series of cruise routes that travel to several South American cities before heading south to Antarctica. You’ll stay onboard the ship for your whole visit to Antarctica, but you’ll still experience it up close, and naturalists onboard will point out penguins and other wildlife.
Here’s some extra credit: if you want to really challenge the vacation status quo, you can head to the opposite end of the globe to cruise through Svalbard, the icy region near the North Pole that serves as the northernmost year-round settlement on the planet.
Hiking In Patagonia
Patagonia is a hiker’s holy grail, and for good reason. This region, which stretches through Chile and Argentina, offers some of the best landscape views on the planet. You can expect snow-capped mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, rolling fields of wildflowers, and a whole lot of time spent with your mouth hanging open in awe. Whether you explore Torres del Paine National Park, Perito Moreno Glacier, Bariloche, or any other highlights you’re drawn to, Patagonia is well worth the trek it takes to get there.
Gorilla Trekking In Uganda And Rwanda
If you’ve ever wanted to pretend you’re Jane Goodall, a gorilla trek is about the closest you can get to living out that dream IRL. A gorilla trek is an immersive and eco-friendly way to get to know eastern gorillas, the largest primates on earth. You’ll journey deep into national park forests to view the gorillas undisturbed in their habitat. With special restricted viewing permits and trained guides required for the journey, you’ll be experiencing something that few others ever get to see. Eastern gorillas are currently critically endangered, so it’s more important than ever to see for yourself just how vital - and magical - these creatures can be.
Macaw Spotting In The Peruvian Amazon
Check the Amazon Rainforest off your bucket list with a visit to Peru’s Amazonas region. Here, you can stay at the Tambopata Research Center eco-lodge, where you’ll experience nature like never before. The organization behind the lodge is a leader in research on macaws, and when you stay here, you can get acquainted with the vibrant exotic birds up close. Make an excursion to nearby Chuncho Macaw Clay Lick, the largest macaw clay lick on the planet, to see dozens of these bright-colored birds gathering at once. (Yes, macaws eat clay. No, you’re not the only one who didn’t know that.) The lodge is about as far and remote into the Amazon as you can get, and the bright colors of the macaws are too beautiful to ever forget.
Exploring In Banff National Park
This photogenic park in the Canadian Rockies offers everything you could ask for in an outdoor getaway: soaring mountain peaks, crisp fresh air, the turquoise waters of Lake Louise, and a whole lot of peace and quiet. Gaze out at Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain as you wander through more than 2,500 square miles of pristine parkland. Don’t forget to bring your camera!