Virginia Mayo  /  AP file
Icelandic horses graze on an overlook of the Hvalfjoerdur Fjord near Akranes, Iceland.
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updated 4/17/2006 12:32:04 PM ET 2006-04-17T16:32:04

You know what they say about taxes - it's one of only two things in life you can be sure of. But for many, tax time isn't nearly as dismal as the other certainty in life - in fact, millions of Americans who overpaid the federal government last year will receive a tax refund this spring.

Forbes.com reports as of early April, the average tax refund is $2,480. If you're one of the lucky ones expecting a check in the mail from the government, we have some suggestions for where you can blow it all.

The trips below are priced based on airfare and hotel accommodations for two people traveling together. Prices were accurate as of press time but are subject to change without notice. Taxes are not included unless noted.

Been to any of our picks? Send us a trip report for our newsletter. We'll send you a link to your report and if yours is picked as the best report of the week we'll send you a FREE Independent Traveler t-shirt.

Reykjavik, Iceland
Europe Bargains and Features
The problem with going somewhere exotic is that "somewhere exotic" is just so far away. Enter Reykjavik, the closest European capital to the East Coast, just a five-hour flight from New York City, Boston and Baltimore. If you don't have a lot of time to get away, three or four days is ample time to explore Reykjavik's thermal pools, museums and legendary nightlife plus take a trip out of the city to visit the Blue Lagoon and other natural wonders.

Iceland's popularity with travelers increases every year and prices are steep. Icelandair is offering sale fares for travel in April and May - $458 round-trip from Baltimore; $470 from Orlando; $508 from New York; $518 from Boston; $568 from Minneapolis; $568 from San Francisco - before the summer high season arrives. Combine any of those with a three-night stay at the centrally located CenterHotel Klopp - about $728, including taxes - and you have a mini vacation for less than $2,000. Even when you add airline taxes of $90 - $150 per person, you are still within your budget.

Talk to other travelers about Iceland on our message boards.

Rockland, Maine
New England Bargains and Features
About a two-hour drive from Portland on the mid-coast is Rockland, the lobster capital of Maine - no small feat in a state famous for the crawling crustaceans. Rockland boasts 14 lighthouses within a short drive and 140 homes on the National Registry of Historic Places. If you want to see a lobsterman haul his catch, feast on lobster in all its forms or simply explore the stunning rocky shores, the picturesque New England town of Rockland is your destination.

Since we don't know where you're traveling from, it's tough to estimate how much airfare to Portland will run you. JetBlue will begin direct service from New York City to Portland in May, bringing prices way down on many carriers (about $150 round-trip including tax on a weekend in June). The Historic Inns of Rockland is offering a hotel package that includes two nights' accommodations, lighthouse tours, a lobster haul and much more from $385 - $505 per couple in June. If you fly to Portland, you'll have to rent a car, so factor in another $150 to be safe. That makes the price for a couple traveling from New York City approximately $950 - with plenty of money left over to add on a few extra nights.

Talk to other travelers about New England on our message boards.

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Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
Accessible only by ferry via Hilton Head or Savannah, Daufuskie Island's pristine tranquility is a haven for the traveler seeking solitude. The tiny island boasts two championship golf courses, a world-class spa, tennis, horseback riding and fishing as the main activities. Tennis, riding and golf lessons are all available for the kids or for the whole family. The beaches are vast and unspoiled - you likely will not see another soul as you walk their length. You can explore the island's trails and wildlife by renting a golf cart or biking - no cars allowed.

There is only one hotel on the island, the Daufuskie Island Resort and Breathe Spa. We found weekend rates in June from $329 per night for a deluxe oceanfront room. Airfare to Savannah for the same dates (including tax) was $269 from New York, $270 from Boston, $269 from Baltimore and Washington D.C., all on AirTran. Total cost? About $1,500 for a three-night getaway.

London, Paris and Rome
Europe Bargains and Features
You read it right - that's London and Paris and Rome - yes, you can visit all three and stay (barely) within your budget. If you've never been to Europe, or are just a culture junkie, this trip is pretty much perfect. See all the hot spots - Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Vatican City and the Colosseum - all in one perfect trip.

Go-today.com is offering this 10-day vacation that includes airfare, transfers and hotel accommodations from $1179 per person for travel through May. You'll fly to London and return from Rome, so there's no back-tracking and wasting precious time. Two people, three cities, one vacation - all for $2,358.

Talk to other travelers about Europe on our message boards.

Bermuda
So close and yet so expensive. Bermuda's reputation for being pricey is not unfounded, but every year around tax time the island famous for its pink-sand beaches goes on sale. Why should you go to Bermuda? Besides the famed sand, there are excellent golf courses, lots of shopping and local men walking around in those cute shorts. Not convinced yet? Think about this - you can be on Bermuda's beaches in no time - it's just a two-hour flight from the East Coast.

TNT Vacations is offering $49 each-way flights from Boston or New York to Bermuda when purchased in conjunction with a vacation package. Prices are from $449 per person including airfare, transfers to and from the airport and four nights at the Harmony Club. At that price, you won't even eat up half of your budget. If you would rather book your flight and hotel separately, keep in mind that JetBlue is starting service to Bermuda in May with fares from $129 each way from New York and $138 each way from connecting cities.

Talk to other travelers about Bermuda on our message boards.


The Independent Traveler is an interactive traveler's exchange and comprehensive online travel guide for a community of travelers who enjoy the fun of planning their own trips and the adventure of independent travel. You can access our wealth of travel resources and great bargains here at www.independenttraveler.com, or at www.bargainbox.com.

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