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What Does the Average Vacation Cost?

We’ve all heard that taking a vacation is great for our mental health. It’s a chance to get away from our stressful daily lives and go on an adventure. In addition to figuring out where you’ll go on your next vacation, don’t forget to start saving for all those vacation expenses. Before we can figure out what you need to save, we need to know, what does the average vacation cost?

How Much Does a Vacation Cost?

I decided to use my vacation budget planner (updated travel budget vacation cost worksheet) and get a basic idea of what the average vacation cost is for a family. Of course, these numbers are just averages to help you with your planning. I’ve researched the average cost for most the standard vacation expenses. These numbers can easily be used to calculate the vacation cost for one person or a couple, but for a family of four, the average cost of vacation will be $5,197.

**Use the calculator at the bottom of this post as a personal vacation cost estimator based on your family size and destination.

And be sure to read our best tips for how to save for vacation!

Transportation Costs – $1,775

This can be one of the largest expenses for a vacation. Driving can be a great way to keep costs low, so figure out if you should fly or drive for your next trip.

Airfare – $349 pp / $1,395 family of four

These prices will be all over the board. According to the Dept of Transportation, the average cost of a domestic (US) plane ticket is about $349. International airfare is going to vary greatly based on your outbound city. You can often find international deals from major coastal hubs that will get you an international ticket for $400-$600. You can also consider credit card points to help lower your transportation costs.

Rental Car / Rideshare – $40 per day / $280 / week

This can be an easy expense to cut if you plan a trip to a walkable city. However, even the best cities will often require you to get to and from the airport. And, if you’re traveling to somewhere like Oahu, you definitely want to have your own car for exploring. Again, there are so many factors to determine this expense, but based on my experience I calculate $40 a day. Relying on rideshare could save you money if you’re visiting a walkable city. But, if you’re headed to someplace like Hawaii, you’ll need to budget more. Don’t forget to consider gas expenses as well.

Parking / Shuttles – $100

If you’ll be parking at the airport, don’t forget to add that expense into your plans. And if you’re driving or renting a car, be sure to check to see if your hotel charges parking fees.

Hotel Accommodation Costs – $250 per night / $1,750 for a week

There are two primary values for this expense, your nightly rate, and the hotel taxes & fees. According to the Business Travel Index the cost of a hotel room in NYC, San Fransisco, and Austin are $393, $387, and $215 respectively. These prices include the taxes and fees which are typically around 10%-15%. For our calculations, we’ll assume you can find a deal and score a room for $250 a night. You can also consider a home rental, which can often cost less.

Don’t forget to budget for any daily resort fees and for tipping hotel staff.

How Much to Budget for Food on Vacation? – $63 per day

We all now that one of the big perks of a vacation is the food. Not only do we get to try new restaurants and foods, but we also don’t have to do the dishes! To calculate the food costs you want to budget daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I estimate a daily food budget of $63 for an adult, $441 for a week. These numbers are primarily based on table service meals. You can certainly find less expensive dining options in almost any city.

Families with young kids can save a bit with kids meals, so for a family of four, I’d budget $1322 for a week. With daily budgets of $40 for breakfasts, $60 for lunches, $80 for dinner, and $20 for snacks, for a total daily food budget of $200. Now that I have a tween and teen, we have to budget as if we’re four adults, so we have a daily food budget of $250 for our family of four. You can serious shave some of these expenses down if you stay at a hotel with a free breakfast or if you make some of your meals in a rental or hotel kitchen.

  • Breakfast = $12 pp / $84 for the week
  • Lunch = $20 pp / $140 for the week
  • Dinner = $25 pp / $175 for the week
  • Snacks = $6 pp / $42 for the week

If you enjoy alcoholic drinks while on vacation, be sure to increase your dinner budget to allow for those. They’ll run you anywhere from $9-$20 depending on your destination.

Cost of Activities

This will all depend on what you plan on doing while on vacation. Some cities are filled with free things to do, while others are museum meccas where you’ll find plenty of admission ticket costs. Assuming a one week vacation, let’s estimate that you’ll visit three attractions that have an admission fee of $25. For a family of four, you’ll want to budget $300 for attractions. And if you like to get your kids souvenirs on vacation, be sure to allow perhaps another $50-$100 for shopping.

Of course, this doesn’t work well for a trip to Disney, so we’ll look at what a trip to Florida sample cost breakdown below.

How Much Does It Cost to Go To Florida?

Our family has taken quite a few vacations to Florida. While it’s a huge state with so many great places to visit, most families are going in order to visit the Mouse. Let’s use our calculations above to help determine what to budget for a vacation to Florida.

  • Airfare = $1396 ($349 pp)
  • Rental Car [Disney] = $0 (if you’re just visiting WDW and staying on-site you get free transportation)
  • Rental Car = $280
  • Airport Parking = $100
  • Hotel = $1750
  • Tipping = $35
  • Food = $1322 (The Disney Dining Plan option will cost a family of 2 adults and 2 kids $206.94 per day)
  • Activities = $1484 ($1384 for 2 adults and 2 kids 4-Park Magic Select Ticket + $100 souvenirs)

That Florida Disney vacation can add up fast – based on averages you’ll want to budget $6,087 for the trip. And if you plan to have a car while visiting, you’ll need to budget even more for the rental car and hotel/park parking fees.

Vacation Cost Calculator

Conclusion

Over $5,000, $5,197 to be exact, is how much you should save for a one week vacation for a family of four! Are you a bit surprised? I know I was when the numbers all came together. As we’ve said this is just an estimate. I’m sure many families can travel for less, and there are plenty who travel for much more, too. The goal is to help you have an idea of the cost so that you won’t be surprised and stressed when the trip is over and the charges start piling in.

Now that you know how much a vacation will cost, check out these fun ideas to help you save money for your vacation!

saving for vacation expenses and costs

How much does a vacation cost?

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Keryn Means

Friday 13th of March 2020

Honestly, I always assume $5000, especially when we go abroad. In the US, we will do it a bit cheaper, but mostly because we drive a lot of places.

Carrie

Friday 13th of March 2020

This is so on point. When you think how much a coffee and lunch on the go can add up, you can soon save by taking a packed lunch. I also like the concept of ride share- we don’t have that here!

Colleen Lanin

Thursday 12th of March 2020

Oh wow! This vacation cost calculator is seriously cool. I will have to remember this for my next trip!

dennis

Thursday 18th of October 2018

I am not at all amazed at the cost of vacations. I have always been observant about spending since growing up poor. Since I have always lived below my means and have always vacationed on purpose, this has never been a problem.

15 Cheap Vacation Spots for a Fun Summer Vacation

Wednesday 9th of May 2018

[…] vacation time and not every destination requires a full week. Also, based on the idea that the average vacation cost is between $4,000-5,000, I’ve tried to keep all of these ideas within that range (or lower if […]

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