Got a Payroll Tax Cut? Take a Local Trip.

by Lauren Braden

in Travel Tips & Trends

While Congress squabbles over the merits and pitfalls of extending the middle-class payroll tax cut worth about $1000 per family for another year, I am already spending mine. In my head, anyway.

Second Beach on the Washington Coast

One thousand dollars will buy us a couple of nice local family getaways next year, and help stimulate the local tourism economy in the process. Without this tax cut, we might not travel at all.

Local tourism is a critical economic engine.  In Washington state alone, travelers poured $15.2 billion into our local economy in 2010, supporting a whopping 143,800 jobs. A lot of that came from you – local travelers.

What you don’t hear so often is that 86% of the tourism dollars spent in the United States is spent by U.S. citizens. That’s probably why tourism is such a key economic indicator. When middle-class Americans have less disposable income in their pockets, they quit taking vacations.

If Congress quits playing political games and passes this tax cut, you will probably have around $1000 to put back into the economy next year. Maybe you need those dollars to put food on the table or buy car insurance like these folks do. But if this is extra money for you, you’ve got a choice about what to do with it. You could save it. You could buy a new laptop. Or, you could explore our backyard and help our local economies at the same time.

Why not take some local trips? Northwest travel would put that money back into our local economy immediately. You would get a chance to recharge and have memories that will last a lifetime. Here are some cool ideas for stretching those dollars for local travel.

Hit the Oregon Coast for storm-watching in February and enjoy off-season rates. Rates at the Salmon Harbor Landing in Winchester Bay start at just $49 a night. Rent a yurt at one of Oregon’s state parks for around $40 per night.

Come spring, head to Washington’s Skagit County for the tulip festival, birdwatching and a few nights at a relaxing bed and breakfast. Sleep cheap at one of the most scenic campgrounds in Washington, nearby Deception Pass State Park.

In summer, you’ll want to get outside, and the North Cascades is a sweet place to explore. For about $80, you can take a wild whitewater rafting trip through the Wild Sky Wilderness. Hike among alpine lakes and stay at Scottish Lakes High Camp, where summer rates for A-frame cabins run $60-$80 per person.

Fall is my favorite time to head to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Dozens of locally-produced wines are crafted here by small winemakers. For something totally unique, try biking around wine country.

Those are just a few ideas for affordable local trips to communities around the Pacific Northwest that depend on tourism for their livelihoods. There are so many more–this website is full of them, so have a look around.

So, provided the payroll tax gets extended, I want to know: how will you spend your $1000?

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