Photo by Rob Paetz

Whether or not it’s going to help
the American economy, most of us are getting $600 in the mail from the US government. It’s time for a splurge!

But wait; let’s make that $600 count with trips and/or purchases that we’ll have for years or remember forever.

Below are the coolest things we could possibly think of with a $600 price tag.

1. Fly to NYC for the weekend in July!

Flight into JFK: $319 (From SFO, on Virgin America via Kayak.com as of 7/1/08). Don’t waste $80/night on a hotel– couchsurf or stay with friends.

Spending Cash: $245

2. Get a D-SLR Camera

Canon EOS Digital Rebel:

The EOS Digital Rebel XT camera takes its place alongside the original 6.3-megapixel EOS Digital Rebel camera that first placed an affordable, high-resolution digital SLR into the hands of Canon consumers.

The EOS Digital Rebel XT model is offered in two kit configurations: with Canon’s high-quality EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-f5.6 zoom lens (in matte black and in brushed silver) and as a body only.

$449.95 BUY

The Zoom pack includes a case for your new D-SLR, two extra batteries and all the cleaning accessories you need to take care of your baby.

Cannon Zoom Pack: $45

3. Weekend in Playa del Carmen (Couples)

Flight to Cancun: $319 per person (from JFK, on JetBlue as of 7/1/08)

Hotel: Shangri-la al Caribe (3 nights for about $600 for a private palapa on the beach, including dinner and breakfast) Check www.shangrilacaribe.net/.

4. Party People Start Planning: You’re Going to Burning Man 2008!
Photo by Lucia Stewart

The dates are from Monday, August 25th – Monday, September 1.Tickets are $295. That leaves you $305 for gas to get to Black Rock City, UT and supplies.

To survive, participate, and generally have a blast at Burning Man 2008, check out our guide, here.

5. Guided Fly Fishing Trip in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Epic snowpack has kept rivers juiced all spring and summer. Now water levels are settling into optimal conditions for fishing. If you haven’t been to Jackson yet, now is a great time to go.

Check: http://reeldealanglers.com/

6. Marin Alpine 29er Hardtail Trail Bike

This is a pretty badass mountain bike for under $600. Rock Shox Dart 3 suspension fork, with preload, rebound and turnkey lockout gives you 100mm of travel to meet the demands of your ride. 6061 aluminum frame features organically shaped, custom butted E3 tubesets to provide maximum rigidity while maintaining lightweight responsiveness.

$533 BUY

7. Amazon Kindle

The new Amazon Kindle is the iPod of books. Thanks to electronic paper, a revolutionary new display technology, reading Kindle’s screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper—and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen. Kindle is also easy on the fingertips.

It never becomes hot and is designed for ambidextrous use so both “lefties” and “righties” can read comfortably at any angle for long periods of time.

Kindle’s paperback size and expandable memory let you travel light with your library. With the freedom to download what you want, when you want, this is a pretty powerful travel companion.

$399 BUY

8. Arc’teryx Beta AR Jacket – Men’s

Arc’teryx created the Men’s Beta AR Jacket for mountaineers, skiers, and adventurers who want the performance of Gore-Tex Pro and top-notch durability without a laundry list of unneeded features. I own this jacket and I can tell you it’s the single best piece of outdoor clothing I have. From islands to rivers to alpine environments, it will keep you and anything attached to you bone dry, yet it’s super lightweight and durable.

$399 BUY

9. Canon Vixia HF100 Digital Camcorder

With the super-lightweight and compact Canon VIXIA HF100, you can have AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec High Definition) format recording with the ease and numerous benefits of Flash Memory.

The VIXIA HF100 Canon has exclusive features such as a 3.3 Megapixel Full HD CMOS sensor and advanced DIGIC DV II Image Processor, SuperRange Optical Image Stabilization, Instant Auto Focus, our 2.7-inch Widescreen Multi-Angle Vivid LCD and the Genuine Canon 12x HD video zoom lens plus you have a Flash Memory camcorder that’s hard to beat.

$689 BUY

10. Volunteer Abroad!

Finally, consider using your stimulus package to help you get to another country where you can volunteer at one of the dozens of programs you’ll find here at Matador.

Many of these programs will help you travel for free (i.e. pay for food, lodging, and local transport) once you arrive. Check our guide to traveling for free through several outstanding volunteer programs.

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