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As another travel season approaches, many consumers are planning how much they’ll need to spend on such items as flights and accommodations, with the caveat that these costs are higher than they’ve been in previous years.
While inflation has slowed, its effects persist. According to Bankrate’s holiday travel survey, 77 percent of holiday travelers are adjusting their plans due to the impacts of inflation and rising costs. Strategic financial planning will be essential for managing travel costs while still making invaluable travel experiences.
Vacation costs vary tremendously depending on such factors including the destination, accommodations and activities. Here are some average costs to help you budget your vacation and manage increased costs.
Key vacation cost statistics
- For a one-week vacation in the U.S., the average cost for one person is $1,984. (Budget Your Trip)
- A one-week vacation in the U.S. for two people jumps to an average cost of $3,969. (Budget Your Trip)
- Round-trip flights to Europe from the U.S. average around $813, as of June 2023. (Hopper)
- The average cost for a double occupancy hotel room in the U.S. is $259 per night. (Budget Your Trip)
- The average cost for a hotel room in Europe is $205 per night. (Hopper)
- The most expensive city to visit in the U.S. is Key West, Florida ($551 per day), followed by Moab, Utah ($388 per day) and Nantucket, Massachusetts ($350 per day). (Budget Your Trip)
How much does a vacation cost?
The average cost of a one-week vacation in the U.S. for one person is $1,984, up by over $400 from last year’s average. Many Americans, keeping in mind the cost of traveling, plan to take various measures to reduce how much they’re spending on such expenses as travel and accommodations.
Transportation can account for a large chunk of your vacation budget, so it’s a good idea to start with these costs when planning your trip. In addition to airfare, factor in any other costs such as car rental, gasoline, tolls and parking fees.
Airfare tends to peak in June, with the highest prices around the summer months in general. International travel has been especially costly: The cost of flights to Europe rose 35 percent in 2023 from the previous year, while airfare to Asia rose 23 percent in 2023, according to Hopper.
|Average cost of transportation|
|Sources: Hopper, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Ridester|
|Domestic round-trip flight||$257|
|International round-trip flight (Europe)||$813|
|International round-trip flight (Asia)||$1,417|
|Rental car||$45 a day|
|Taxi||$46 a day|
|Gasoline||$3.29 a gallon|
|Uber or Lyft||$1-$2 per mile|
To keep traveling budget-friendly amid rising costs, many consumers are making changes to their plans. Over one-quarter (27 percent) say they’re driving instead of flying to their destination this year, according to Bankrate’s holiday travel survey. Meanwhile, 21 percent say they’re traveling a shorter distance, and 17 percent say they’re using rewards points or loyalty programs to help pay for travel.
Keep in mind: Twenty-seven percent of holiday travelers this year say they're driving instead of flying due to increased prices. Depending on how far you're traveling, driving may be a more affordable alternative than flying.
Hotel and other accommodation costs
Hotel prices vary dramatically depending on the location, demand and time of year. An oceanfront hotel room in South Florida, for example, will cost less in the winter months than in summer, when deals can be found.
If your budget isn’t generous and you’re OK with fewer comforts, hostels or a recreational vehicle park can save you money.
When planning a vacation, you can also save by choosing a destination that’s less popular, while still offering value in experience. France, one of the most popular destinations, costs on average $1,863 to visit for one week. Meanwhile, the average cost for a week-long trip to Zagreb, Croatia, costs $577 on average, according to Budget Your Trip.
|Average cost of accommodations, nightly|
|Sources: Budget Your Trip, Cruise America, Hopper, The Points Guy|
|Hotel room in the U.S.||$259|
|Hotel room in Europe||$205|
|Hostels in the U.S.||$42 for dorm bed or $45 for private room|
|RV||$40-$70 for mid-range RV campsite|
Food and entertainment costs
Food and entertainment expenses can lighten your wallet if you don’t draft a thorough vacation budget. They tend to be among the last costs travelers consider when planning a trip.
The average cost of food for one person on vacation, per day, is $58, according to Budget Your Trip. This figure doesn’t include snacks, tips or alcohol.
|Average cost of food and entertainment|
|Sources: Budget Your Trip, Insuranks, National Park Service, Rookie Road, Travel + Leisure Magazine|
|Food||$58 a day, per adult|
|Alcohol||$13-$40 a day, per adult|
|Sports events||$151 for an NFL game ticket$36 for an MLB game ticket$94 for an NBA game ticket|
|Theme parks||$75 per person|
|National parks||Ranges from $5-$30 per vehicle|
Budgeting for a family vacation can be trickier than budgeting for a solo trip, especially if young children are coming along. You probably won’t be eating at posh restaurants and strolling museums with kids in tow, but you likely will have to budget for a bigger hotel room and reservations for activities they’ll enjoy. Don’t forget to look for group rates and discounts, if eligible.
Average cost of a vacation by generation
Data from Squaremouth, a travel insurance company, shows that older generations spend more on travel than younger generations, on average. The Silent generation — the oldest living generation — spends over $3,500 per trip, on average. By contrast, Generation Zers spend just under $2,000 per trip, on average.
The higher vacation costs for older generations may be due to them having more savings, longer trips or a number of other factors. Still, while Gen Zers are spending less on travel, they’re more likely to travel for fun: 68 percent of Gen Zers planned to travel for leisure in 2023, according to Bankrate’s travel problems survey.
Younger generations are also more likely to change their travel plans due to inflation. Of Gen Zers, 86 percent are changing their travel plans this year for cost reasons, followed by millennials (80 percent), Gen Xers (77 percent) and baby boomers (68 percent).
Here’s how much each generation is spending on vacations.
|Generation||Average cost per trip|
|Gen Z (ages 11 to 26)||$1,953|
|Millennials (ages 27 to 42)||$1,785|
|Gen X (ages 43 to 58)||$2,220|
|Baby boomers (ages 59 to 77)||$3,093|
|Silent generation (ages 78 and above)||$3,543|
Vacations and inflation
Increased costs for airlines, accommodations and other travel-related services contribute to higher overall trip expenses. Since this time last year, the average cost for a one-week vacation in the U.S. has risen by $406, or about 26 percent.
These high costs, coupled with diminished purchasing power, prompts consumers to make adjustments in their travel plans, either by choosing more economical options, shortening their vacations or, in the worst case, forgoing travel altogether. According to Bankrate’s holiday travel survey, 23 percent of U.S. adults traveling this holiday season say they will be taking fewer trips this year due to inflation, and 21 percent say they’ll be shortening the duration of their vacations to make up for costs.
International travel prices have surged, as well. European hotel prices, for instance, experienced a staggering 37 percent increase this summer compared to the previous year, according to data from Hopper.
But you don’t have to give up the idea of traveling this year because of costs. Instead, strategic planning and setting priorities can ensure you’re traveling within the capacity of your wallet.
Vacation budgeting tips
Almost a third (31 percent) of U.S. adults traveling this holiday season say traveling will strain their budget, according to Bankrate’s holiday travel survey.
“We have most definitely put a bit too much emphasis on spending money during the holidays,” says Aja Evans, LMHC, Financial Therapist at Laurel Road, a division of KeyBank. “While I love the value of coming together during this time, the costs can quickly add up.”
Here are some tips to help you get the most trip for your money:
- Determine how much you can spend on the vacation and draft a budget.
- Start a vacation fund, such as a sinking fund, in a high-yield savings account.
- “Prioritize your must-attend events” rather than traveling for every holiday, Evans says.
- Avoid paying high prices for lodging at popular destinations by finding accommodations slightly farther away.
- Save money by visiting destinations during off-seasons.
- Search for inexpensive flights and book in advance. You might save money on international flights by booking the cheapest flight to the destination country, followed by another flight to the particular city you wish to visit.
- If traveling abroad, find places that offer the best currency exchange rates.
- Consider using a prepaid debit card to control daily spending or a good travel rewards credit card to earn cash back on certain purchases.
- Plan meals, and work them into your budget accordingly. If you wish to eat at a high-end restaurant for dinner, choose an inexpensive meal for lunch.
- Plan what you’ll need to bring, and pack those items in your travel bag. This can help you avoid buying things on the trip that you forgot to bring, such as toiletries or over-the-counter medicine.
Budgeting for a family vacation can be trickier than budgeting for a solo trip, especially if young children are coming along. You probably won’t be eating at posh restaurants and visiting many museums with young kids in tow, but you will have to pay for a bigger hotel room and plan for activities they’ll enjoy. Don’t forget to look for group rates and discounts, if eligible.
The main budgetary components of a vacation include lodging, transportation, food and entertainment — all of which cost more now than they did in past years, due to the effects of high inflation.
While all aspects of a vacation can be pricey, it’s possible to lower your costs significantly through such activities as budgeting, traveling during the off-season, finding affordable ways (and places) to eat and planning early.
And, of course, setting money aside early and often can help you get the most out of your vacation. “Setting up a sinking fund you contribute to throughout the year can alleviate the last-minute pressure to spend money you don’t have,” Evans of Laurel Road says.