Updated October 8, 2018

Study: Average Cost of a Vacation

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The average vacation costs $1,145 per person (or $4,580 for a family of 4). Here's what to expect to pay for airfare, hotels, food, and activities.

Vacations are expensive, but people still take them. Either they have a lot of money or they know how to score deals. We help you figure it out with our average vacation cost statistics.

How much do vacations cost?

The average vacation costs $1,145 per person. This means a family of 4 would need $4,580. Shockingly, though, more than half of that amount may be taxes and fees. Taxes on airline tickets, hotels, and car rentals really add up. Then you have the resort fees that can be as much as $25 per day. This is on top of the daily fee you already pay for the hotel. When it's all said and done, your final price may be much higher than your calculated per night or per person cost.

Tip: Read the fine print when booking a hotel or airfare online. Don't click "purchase" until you know the full cost of the airline tickets or hotel. In many cases, once you book, you can't get a refund.

There are many variables. Do you drive or fly? Do you bunk with family or do you pay for a hotel? Are you a beach-goer or do you prefer activities? These all play a role in the cost of your vacation.

If the numbers scare you, know that you have options. Shopping around online and changing your accommodations can help.

Bonus: The average cost of a vacation is $4,580 for a family of 4. But did you know, you can travel for cheap with miles and points? Join our FREE travel course to learn how to travel the world with points.

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How much do families spend on vacations per year?

The average person spends around $1,200 on vacation per year. For a family of 4, this means around $4,800. This can equal as much as 8-9% of the average household income. This amount takes into account transportation, lodging, food, and entertainment.

Luckily, there are ways you can cut down on the costs. Staying with friends or family can reduce lodging costs. Driving, rather than flying, can reduce your transportation costs. You still get the vacation you wanted without the large expenses.

How much does it cost to eat on vacation?

A family of 4 needs an average of $132 per day for food. But this doesn't take into account alcohol, snacks, and tips.

How can you make this less expensive? Plan to make a few of your own meals while on vacation. This can drop that number to just $24 per day for a family of 4. If you are on a strict budget, it's an easy area to cut down on costs.

Consider finding hotels with a full kitchen. You can then buy your own groceries and fix quick meals. Even fixing breakfast and lunch in your room can help you save. If you eat out for dinner, you'll only spend a fraction of the $132 per day. If fixing your own meals isn't your idea of vacation, consider looking for hotels that include a meal. Many hotels offer breakfast with your stay. Eat up at breakfast, eat a small lunch, and dine out for dinner to maximize your budget.

What's the average hotel price in the major cities?

  • Las Vegas, the United States' #1 destination for domestic trips, had an average hotel price of $127 per night.
  • New York, the 2nd most popular domestic destination, has an average hotel price of $258 per night.
  • Orlando, which hit #3 on the charts, has an average hotel price of $114 per night.

How much does a trip to Disney World cost?

In 2016, more than 20 million people visited the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. More than 10 million visited Disney World's other parks. These visits come at quite a cost, though. The average 4-night trip will cost:

  • Average flight is $350 per person
  • Staying on Disney property costs an average of $388 per night (don't forget to add taxes)
  • Disney dining plans, which vary among plans, cost of an average of $75 per adult and $28 per child (ages 3-9) per day
  • Theme park tickets average between $1,360 and $1,660, depending on your children's ages and if you plan to hop from park to park

Of course, you can cut down on these prices by forgoing the Dining Plan or driving rather than flying.

How much does it cost for a family of four to go to Disneyland?

Disneyland is the "original" Disney. It's where Walt Disney started all of his dreams. While Disney World might be bigger, it often costs more to go to Disneyland. An average 4-night trip will cost:

  • Average flight flying into LAX is $275 per person (it's not the closest option, but it's the cheaper option)
  • Average flight flying into SNA is $356 per person (this is the closest option)
  • Staying on Disney property costs an average of $478 per night
  • Theme park tickets average between $1,130 and $1310 for 4 days; the amount depends on your children's ages and whether you want a park hopper

How much does it cost for a family vacation to Hawaii?

Vacationing in Hawaii is a dream for many families. But this is one vacation you'll have to plan and save for for a while. Just getting to Hawaii can take up a large portion of your vacationing budget.

  • The average flight into Hawaii is around $1,000. You can get cheaper tickets, though, if you have a connecting flight through LAX or if you fly during off-peak times.
  • Lodging in Hawaii varies greatly depending on where you stay. A standard room can cost $200-$400 a night. Luxurious accommodations, however can cost you as much as $800 per night.
  • Dining is another costly activity in Hawaii. Plan to spend at least $100 per person on food each day if you stick to the resort fare. If you like local food, though, you can save quite a bit of money.

What cities have the highest tax burden for vacationers?

When considering the taxes, know that not all cities have high tax burdens. The cities that will cost you the most are Chicago, New York, and Minneapolis.

They charge what they call discriminatory travel taxes. They help struggling governments fund their budget deficits. However, it makes it more expensive for travelers to come to their city. Check out this example:

A hotel stay in New York incurs 3 taxes and 1 fee. They include:

  • Hotel Room Occupancy Tax of 5.875%
  • New York State and NYC Sales Tax of 8.875%
  • New York State Hotel Unit Fee ($1.50 per day)

That $300/night hotel stay just increased to $345.37. Your 4-night stay just increased $181.48.

The Bottom Line

The good news is that you don't need $4,800 for your family of 4 to go on vacation. But you'll have work to do. You'll have to shop for deals. Using apps and looking for airfare on Tuesdays are great ways to stay on top of the latest deals. Even if you splurge on your hotel or airfare, you have other ways you can cut costs. Plan to eat some meals in your hotel room. Buy discount theme park tickets. Check out the local fare rather than eating resort food.

The key is to have fun! At CreditDonkey, we want to help you make the most of your money while enjoying yourself. You work hard for your money and you deserve a vacation. Just make sure it's one you can afford.

Sources and References:

More from CreditDonkey:


Airline Miles for Beginners


Credit Cards for International Travel


Foreign Transaction Fee

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