Legendary American scientist, statesman, and coolest Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, was quoted as once saying, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
And while it’s not as certain as having to pay your taxes or shed your mortal coil, Americans regularly look forward the annual arrival of their tax refund. In fact, it’s been reported that in 2016 over 70% of United States taxpayers got a refund, the estimated average amount of which was just under $3,000.
Most personal finance experts advise using some or most of your refund to add to your savings or pay off debt, but that still leaves plenty of options on a vacation you can take with your returned tax money. Even the most popular destinations booked in mid-to-late May, when the latest of filers should have their refund check, there are plenty of affordable fares to get you there and back.
But the country with the most popular destinations you can travel to round trip with your tax refund? Mexico! Here are six affordable spots you can and should book to visit with your some of your windfall.
When one thinks of Cancun, it’s likely that blue skies, white beaches, and a sunny tropical climate come to mind. And that’s certainly the biggest draw to the city. But look beyond the surface once you get there and you’ll see something much more than all-inclusive resorts, wild parties, and poolside lounging. Located on Mexico’s southeast coast, this Caribbean destination is a dream for bookworms, outdoors enthusiasts, and foodies alike. Venture to the nearby Mayan ruins and prepare to be awed by the mystery of the once-flourishing society. Take a hike and a dive in one of Mexico’s many cenotes. Drink your way through a tequila museum. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you see more of this beautiful city than its picturesque beaches.
One city, two personalities. San Jose del Cabo is no longer the sibling to be overshadowed by party-happy Cabo San Lucas: in recent years, its colonial architecture, sophisticated art galleries, and pleasantly tame nightlife scene has begun to draw more visitors who are more interested in moonlit walks than tequila shots. That’s not to say that you can’t have a little fun if you make your way to the Baja Peninsula city — Cabo San Lucas is a short 30-minute drive away (and a cheap $2 bus ride). Take your time enjoying the sleepy colonial town: sampling the local fare, going for a snorkel, lounging on the beach. Perhaps just try to avoid going during spring break.
This land-locked city in Western Mexico is the birthplace of both mariachi music and tequila — so be prepared for an unforgettable time. Guadalajara‘s town center is lined with colonial architecture and most travelers love visiting the city’s theatre and church — complete with twin golden spires. More recently, the town has become a hotspot for travelers looking to explore Mexico beyond its sunny skies and white beaches. And it’s no wonder why. The city hosts a huge Guadalajara International Book Fair, a buzzy film festival, a thriving jazz scene, and is considered by many to be Mexico’s creative hub. The creativity goes beyond simply art, though: inventive food fusions make the culinary scene just as alluring. Visit to see Mexico at its artistic best!
Another land-locked town having quite a moment is Mexico’s capital: the thriving cosmopolitan Mexico City. If you want to discover the heart of Mexico, travel here. For one, the metropolitan area has an astonishing 20 million residents — making it one of the most populated cities in the world! The superlatives don’t stop there. It also has the second-largest amount of museums (Paris takes home the top prize) — and most of them are completely free. It has the largest forest in the Americas — and it’s an urban park that’s twice the size of New York City’s Central Park. It plays host to over 40,000 restaurants — many of which are affordable and gourmet. Top that off with stunning colonial architecture, affordable and comprehensive public transportation, and its frenzied, enchanting culture and you’ll wonder why you never thought to visit before!
If you’re looking to relax with a side of culture, you need to check out Puerto Vallarta. At first, it may seem like your typical Mexican resort town, but the quiet retreat has an adventurous side: snorkel in crystalline waters, parasail on the Pacific Ocean, hike up rugged mountainsides, and trek through nearby jungles. You can also find peace waltzing through quaint marketplaces and snapping photos of the cobblestoned town center. The city’s old town is a vision — cafes, bars, and restaurants line the streets, where it’s impossible not to feel a touch of European romanticism. If that’s not relaxing enough for you, visit the city’s botanical gardens, many spas, and beaches for a true dreamy experience.
This city in northeastern Mexico is an economic powerhouse — boasting the country’s largest per-capita income. And with its huge shiny malls and gated communities, it can certainly feel like the country’s most American-esque city. But take a step into the city center and you’ll realize why Monterrey and Mexico City vie to claim the title of Mexico’s best metropolis. Museums, universities, restaurants, and outdoors adventures all crowd within the close confines of the city limits. At once old and new, troubled and reformed, cosmopolitan and rugged, Monterrey is likely one of Mexico’s most unique cities — which is a reason in and of itself to make visiting the buzzing city a priority.
*Displayed fares are based on historical data and are subject to change and cannot be guaranteed at the time of booking