Updated July 14, 2022

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 can score deals.

Maybe you've been wanting to go for a long time. And you just can't figure out how to budget it. There are many ways to cut down costs while still dipping your toe in luxury.

Here are some average vacation cost statistics to help you plan.

How Much do Vacations Cost?

The average vacation costs $1,145 per person.

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 which 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.

Average Family Vacation Cost

The average family of 4, spends around $4,580 on a vacation annually. 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 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.

Tip: Open a dedicated bank account to put aside money for a vacation. Check out the current Chase bank promotions.

Food on Vacation Cost

A family of 4 needs an average of $132 per day for food. But this doesn't account for 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 full kitchens. You can then buy your own groceries and fix quick meals. If you only eat out for dinner, you'll 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 during your stay. Eat up at breakfast, eat a small lunch, and dine out for dinner to maximize your budget.

Average Hotel Price in 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.

Disney World Trip 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. An average 4-night trip would cost:

  • Average flight is $350 per person.
  • Staying on Disney property costs an average of $388 per night.
  • Disney dining plans, which vary among plans, cost 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.

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

Disneyland: Family of Four Cost

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 cheaper.
  • 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 $1,130 for 4 days.

Hawaii Family Vacation Cost

Vacationing in Hawaii is a dream for many families. But this is one vacation you'll have to plan and save 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 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, you can save quite a bit of money.

Cities with Highest Tourist Taxes

When considering 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.

For instance, 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)

A $300/night hotel stay goes up to $345.37. Your 4-night stay increases by $181.48.

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 help you stay on top of the latest deals. Even if you splurge, 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! You work hard for your money and you deserve a vacation. Just make sure it's one you can afford.

Sources and References

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