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How to Use Your Tax Return for Travel

Those looking to travel domestically could take a full two weeks to visit the Pacific Northwest (think: Seattle, Portland and the surrounding area.
Couples can spend a week in Sedona, Arizona hiking the red rocks, or lounge on the beach in Florida’s Key West, with airfares in the low $300s roundtrip from many East Coast airports, according to Jauntaroo.
International destinations are still a possibility for couples on a $2,400 budget, including getaways to Croatia, where roundtrip airfare can be found from $483 per person and hotels can be booked for less than $100 per night. (Sadly, outside the capital, there arent a ton of points hotel options.) Theres also Budapest, Hungary. Hunt for a roundtrip flight just over $400 and boutique apartment rentals for $60 per night on Airbnb.
$2,700 to $2,850For international vacations, Midwest residents can head to Spain from the Midwest for just $481 roundtrip per person, or take a quick flight to the island of Aruba for just $371, according to Skyscanner. Entire families can enjoy a trip here by using points to reserve a stay at one of the islands many great points properties.
Photo by Tashka / Getty Images.$3,000 to $3,150The average tax return has historically been about $3,000 per person, and most states land in this range, from Alaska to Georgia, Maryland and Nevada.It’s still a sizable return, and even travelers who don’t want to spend their entire tax return on a trip can find great options within this budget.For residents of Nevada, Alaska, or any of the other western states, the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington are a short flight and boat ride away.
The rural archipelago is filled with state parks and greenery, making it the perfect option for nature lovers who want to hike, kayak, swim or watch for orcas starting in May. Flights originating from the west can be as low as $103 per person, according to Skyscanner, and hotels on the islands usually run from $70 to $150 per night.For international locations, residents of the West Coast can fly to parts of South America in just a few hours. Flights from California to Sao Paolo, Brazil are usually less than $500 in May.
East Coast residents can turn to the British Isles for a great getaway, where flights to Scotland are $499 round trip and flights to London are just $341, according to Skyscanner. Travelers can splurge on the recently renovated Ritz-Carlton in London, or stay at the highly rated Hilton Metropole for less than $150 per night.(Cash in your points for an award night, and youll have plenty of your tax return left over for food, beverages and activities.)$3,700 to $3,850States in the Northeast see some of the highest average tax refunds, with Connecticut taking the number one spot of $3,844, according to Smart Asset.
Travelers in the highest tax return bracket could jet off to Bali for two weeks to visit ancient Hindu temples. Flights from New York City to Bali can get as low as $481 roundtrip in the month of May (though if you want to book something quick, its not difficult to find flights in the mid-$700s) and hotels run in the low hundreds per night.North African temperatures tend to be relatively mild in the spring, making it a great time to visit Morocco or Egypt (one of our top places to travel this April). Flights to Africa tend to run on the more expensive side, regardless of the time of year, but flights to Casablanca can be found in the low $600s roundtrip.Visitors can rent entire homes near Casablanca for roughly $50 per night — and some even include their own pools.For the latest travel news, deals and points and miles tips please .

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Florida State students curate exhibit of Polynesian women’s art

Florida State University’s College of Fine Arts and the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship Textile and Apparel Historic Costume Collection.
The exhibit, which opens April 4 at the William Johnston Building gallery, is the culmination of a semester of work by the Museum Objects class taught by Associate Art History Professor Kristin Dowell.In Dowell’s class, students learn about the history, practice and implications of displaying objects in museums and galleries. This hands-on opportunity gives students the chance to curate, design and mount pieces in an art show.One of the two large tapas made its way to the United States after a Samoan man gifted it to a U.S.Marine stationed in Samoa during World War II. The other barkcloth was collected by former FSU Professor of Art History Jehanne Teilhet-Fisk and added to the archive.Barkcloths are integral to the Polynesian culture as women express their creativity and artistic skill through creating and decorating the textiles. The barkcloths also play an integral role in the daily lives of the Polynesian people as they are transformed into cloths, grass skirts, mats and more.

The textiles are often sacred to social events including weddings, births and deaths.The work of the Polynesian women reflects the environment, culture, community, gender roles and art of their people.The pieces displayed are highly valued and many are an important aspect of ceremonial and cultural events.This vibrant exhibit will provide insight on the lives of the women who created the textiles and is a unique opportunity to learn about an important cultural tradition.An opening reception will take place from 5-7 p.m.Thursday, April 4, and the exhibit will run through Monday, April 22. The William Johnston Building gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

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Tapping into Oxford’s culture: Miss-I-Sippin’ Beer Festival celebrates 10 years

Ten years ago, the Miss-I-Sippin’ Beer Festival began as an initiative to highlight food, culture and related trends in Oxford. Now, the fundraiser has become a weekend-long event focused on craft beer, art and culture, attracting sponsors and participants from across state lines.
This year’s festival begins today and continues tomorrow. Wayne Andrews, executive of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, said the goal of the festival is to showcase Oxford.The 10th annual Miss-I-Sippin Beer Festival, a fundraiser for Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, begins today and will run through Saturday. Photo Courtesy: Yoknapatawpha Arts Council“We want to communicate our culture, and a big way to do that is through food and drink because in the South what we eat is often linked back to history or culture,” Andrews said.“This event is a great way to bring that history and those stories out while bringing people out in the community and attracting new people to our town in a playful way.”The Miss-I-Sippin’ Beer Festival benefits the YAC while also fostering tourism to the area.

Last year’s Miss-I-Sippin’ Beer Festival attracted over 400 participants from Mississippi and surrounding states, raising more than $6,000 for the YAC. According to event coordinator Tore Christiansen, this year’s fundraiser is projected to be more successful and attract more out-of-state participants as a result of the increase in out-of-state brewers participating.“We try and pull brewers from the surrounding area like Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida,” Christiansen said. “Last year we had many people travel from Tennessee and Georgia, but this year we are expecting even more.”More than a dozen brewers are participating in the fundraiser, including newcomers Grayton Beer Company, Parish Brewing Company and Ace Craft Cider.“The Brewers’ Banquet on Friday is the most relaxed event of the weekend.

It’s the night for people to get to know the brewers and thank them for coming and donating their time and beer,” Christiansen said. “Then everyone is able to have a shrimp and catfish dinner — something Mississippi excels at which is aquaculture because they’re farm-raised fish.”On Saturday afternoon, participants can form teams and enjoy the beer tasting trail, a scavenger hunt beginning at the Growler. The trail leads participants to different retail and restaurant locations on the Square to freely sample different beers while teams compete in different activities for the chance to win prizes.

“The vendors are a great way to showcase our town — the fact that we have a great Square and arts and culture and that we have these great spaces where we can gather around to have a drink, hear music and come together as a community,” Andrews said.Cally Perkins, a senior political science and paralegal studies major, said that she plans to attend the festival.
“I’m participating in the scavenger hunt this year with friends and family because it sounds like fun,” Perkins said. “It seems like a unique way to learn more about Oxford outside of the scope of the University.”

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8 travel disasters that left passengers stranded

Wow Air announced Thursday that it has ceased operations and cancelled all flights. Stranded passengers described “pandemonium” at airport gates,Planes were stuck on the tarmac for seven hours.Inside the dark airport, people used their phone flashlights. The Federal Aviation Administration declared a ground stop, bringing all Atlanta-bound flights to a halt.

About 30,000 people were affected by the outage. 6/An engine fire on a Carnival cruise ship left passengers and crew stranded off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for nearly a week in 2013.Passengers spell out the word “HELP” aboard the disabled Carnival cruise ship Triumph.The ship’s fire extinguishing system put out the fire and prevented a deadly disaster, but 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members were left adrift for almost a week.CNN reported that the ship lost power and that toilets, elevators, and air conditioning stopped working, resulting in “sewage running down the walls and floors.” Tugboats towed the cruise ship to Mobile, Alabama, for rescue.


7/One month later, another Carnival cruise lost power.Passengers of the Carnival Dream cruise ship wait at the international airport to check in for flights back to the US in March 2013.In March 2013, toilets and elevators stopped working halfway through a seven-day cruise on the Carnival Dream, leaving 4,300 passengers and 1,300 crew members stuck on the ship in the Caribbean, CNN reported. “There’s human waste all over the floor in some of the bathrooms and they’re overflowing and in the staterooms,” passenger Gregg Stark told CNN of the incident.Carnival cruise lines had to fly passengers back to Florida. They received a three-day refund and a half-price cruise in the future.

8/Zoom Airlines left around 4,500 British passengers stranded when it ceased operations in 2008.A Zoom Airlines plane.Martin J.Galloway/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons The Guardian reported that in total, 40,000 customers in the UK and Canada were affected.Zoom cited rising oil prices as the source of the company’s financial difficulties. Stranded passengers said they were told flight delays were due to “mechanical failures” until they were eventually instructed to get off the plane and found police waiting at the gate.

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SpaceX's new spaceship for people has returned to Earth, completing its 'absolutely critical' first mission for NASA

SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, has completed the first flight of its new spaceship designed to fly people. The ship, called Crew Dragon, splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida on Friday following a six-day mission in space.

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