The Best Holidays You Can Take With Your Tax Refund

It’s money you forgot you had anyway, so the trip is pretty much free. What better excuse could there possibly be to take a vaycay? World traveller Erin gives us her top picks depending on your refund.

It’s that glorious time of year when most Australians – 82% – will receive a lump sum from the government after completing their tax return. Even though it’s your money that you earned, it feels like free money, and what a great feeling it is.

But kind of depressingly, the majority of us (29%) will spend our tax return (an average of $2112) on bills. A smart move, sure. But an even smarter move would be to use your tax refund to treat yourself to something you might normally feel guilty for spending on, or just struggle to put away for week-to-week – a holiday.

The benefits of taking time off are well documented – you’ll come back refreshed, recharged, inspired and ready to spend another year rising and grinding. But for now, it’s time to rise late and head to a café where the barista is grinding the coffee beans for your perfectly frothed latte. Bon voyage.

Tax return amount: $1000

Byron Bay

Make it rain: If you subscribe to the here-for-a-good-time-not-a-long-time holiday philosophy, spend a few luxurious days in Byron Bay. With several stylish hotels offering rates of around $150 per night right now, such as boutique property The Atlantic Byron Bay, you can afford a flight, two/three nights accommodation, some Instagram-worthy café meals and the obligatory massage for about a grand.

Lorne, Victoria

Make it last: If a few days just won’t be long enough, downsize the level of luxury to upsize the length of your trip. The picturesque Victorian coastal town of Lorne has one of the more comfortable camping grounds around, with rates ranging from $37-$89 per night depending on whether you pitch a tent or stay in one of the cabins on offer. Lorne is packed with activities that cost little to nothing, such as the beach, driving the Great Ocean Road, hiking, waterfalls, lookouts and the sea baths, and if you make your own food/live off hot chips you’ll easily stay under budget.

Tax return amount: $2000

Bali, Indonesia

Make it rain: With $2000 to play with, an overseas trip becomes much more realistic. With this budget, you could spend a very luxurious week in Bali – Flight Centre offer several week-long packages including airfare and accommodation for about $1000, with options to upgrade to make it a little more luxe. Stay in Seminyak to be close to uber-cool hangouts like Potato Head Beach Club and Motel Mexicola. Or if you want a more chilled beach vibe, check out up-and-comer Canguu.

New Zealand

Make it last: People all over the world fantasise about visiting unspoiled, isolated, idyllic New Zealand… and are outraged when an Australian admits they’ve never made it across the ditch. And while you might use the excuse that NZ is too expensive, it’s possible to do it with a budget of $2000.

Qantas is currently offering flights starting at $186 one-way from Sydney to Wellington (or around $430 return), and with the option to hire a campervan that serves as your accommodation and transportation for as little as $19 per day, a visit to the land of Lord Of The Rings is actually pretty doable. You won’t miss eating at a restaurant when you can cook beside your campervan with epic views.

Tax return amount: $3000

Santiago, Chile

Make it rain: It would make more sense to visit South America for a longer stretch of time, but life is short, and if a couple of months away just isn’t possible, you don’t have to discount a trip to South America completely. Qantas is currently offering flights for about $1050 return to Santiago, Chile, which would leave you over $1900 to spend: a comfortable budget for a fortnight.

There are loads of Airbnb listings in Santiago for under AUD $50 per night (so if you’re going with a friend it’s even more affordable) and day/overnight trips to the picturesque seaport town of Valpraiso, lagoons in the Andean mountains such as El Yeso Dam and wine country like Casablanca Valley can be booked for about $100.


Make it last: Vietnam is a country with so much to offer and so easy to do on a budget. A return flight from Sydney to Ho Chi Minh city shouldn’t set you back any more than $1000 no matter what time of year you go, leaving you $2000 to stay and play with. Hostel beds in must-see spots like Hoi An and Hanoi can be as low as $20 a night, and you can travel from Ho Chi Minh city in the south of the country all the way to Hanoi in the north for as little as $50 using the hop-on-hop-off bus, which is a flexible ticket that allows you to get on and off at different locations along the coast, staying in each place for as long or as little as you want.

And with a cup of ‘bia hoi’ (home made beer sold on the street) as cheap as 40 cents and meals for $2 per person, you could easily spend a month or so backpacking around ‘nam for $3000.

Erin Van Der Meer is a freelance writer currently travelling the world. Right now, she’s in the USA drinking too many free refills of Dr Pepper. She has edited the websites of magazines DOLLY, CLEO, Shop ‘Til You Drop and NW, and written for Cosmopolitan, ELLE, and You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @erinvandermeer.

Lead image: Bali, Sonia Taylor.

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