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Average Cost of a Vacation: A Complete Breakdown

Jessica Martel • May 20, 2024

family sightseeing on vacation

Planning a vacation? You’re in good company. Ninety percent of Americans plan to travel this year, and 50% say they’ll travel more than they did last year.

Whether you’re road-tripping to a national park, backpacking in Europe, or heading for a tropical vacation with friends, knowing the average cost of a vacation can help you budget accordingly. Of course, how much you spend on vacation will vary based on factors like your destination, accommodations, and activities.

If you want to know the average cost of a one-week vacation and learn lots of money-saving tips, keep reading!

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Average vacation costs

The average cost of a one-week vacation in the U.S. is $1,991, but it could be as little as $739 or as much as $5,728.¹ If you’re traveling as a couple, the average vacation cost for two people is $3,982.

Cost varies greatly depending on where you go when you travel and what you plan to do while you’re there.

Estimating how much you’ll spend on vacation can help you build a budget and saving plan to keep you on track. By planning your trip early, you can start putting money away each month so you’re not using credit to pay for your vacation.

Here’s a list of major vacation expenses and the average cost for each.

Average costs for transportation

Whether you fly, drive, or sail to your destination, transportation is often one of the most significant travel expenses. First, you must get to your destination, and then you need to figure out how you’ll get around once you arrive.

If you fly, will you pay to park at the airport or take a cab to and from? Once you get to your destination, will you use public transport or rent a car? To create an accurate vacation budget, think through some potential scenarios.

If you’re planning a vacation stateside, the average cost of a domestic flight is $290 per person.²

International travel is even more expensive, with a round trip to Osaka, Japan costing $1,364, and $885 for a round trip to Nice, France.²

Average cost of transportation expenses

  • Domestic flight: $290²
  • International flight (Osaka, Japan): $1,364²
  • International flight (Nice, France): $885²
  • Rental car: $42²
  • Taxi: $46³
  • Airport parking: $30 per day
  • Fuel: $3.65 per gallon

Average cost of hotels and other accommodations

Accommodation expenses can vary greatly depending on when and where you travel. For instance, the average hotel price in Big Sur, California, is $927 per night compared to $96 per night in Las Vegas.¹

Before booking, compare the cost of a hotel versus a vacation rental. If you’re traveling on a budget, consider camping, staying with a friend, or booking a hostel to keep your costs down.

You can also look for accommodations outside the regular tourist area to try and save money. But you’ll need to think about how you’ll get around. If you have to take a taxi each time you want to go out, you might not save that much by staying farther away.

Average cost of accommodation expenses

  • Hotel: $259 (double-occupancy)³
  • Hostel: $37 (one person dorm bed)¹
  • RV Campsite: $25-$60 (per night)

Average cost of food

If you’re traveling in the U.S., the average cost of food is $58 per day per person.³ An average lunch for two will cost around $32. You can try to save on food by grabbing a bite from a street vendor or going to the grocery store instead of a restaurant.

If your hotel or rental has a kitchenette, you can buy simple breakfast items such as cereal or bagels to avoid going out for breakfast. You can also look for hotels offering free breakfast.

Average cost of food expenses³

  • Food: $58 per day, per person
  • Alcohol: $27 per day, per person
  • Tips and handouts: $33

Average cost of entertainment

The average daily cost of entertainment is $55 per day.³ Again, this highly depends on the type of trip you’re taking. If you’re planning a beach vacation where you plan to spend your time reading and playing in the sand, you’ll probably spend less than someone who’s going to a Broadway show or a large sporting event.

Average entertainment costs

  • Museum: $30
  • Sporting event: $120.94 (NFL ticket); $37 (MLB)
  • National park: $20-$35 per vehicle
  • Broadway tickets: $128¹⁰
  • Zoo tickets: $75 (for two)³

Average vacation spending by generation

The amount you spend on a vacation can also vary based on your age. A 20-something Gen Z is likely more budget-conscious and willing to sleep in a hostel or take public transit than someone from an older generation with the budget and desire to travel more comfortably. However, travel data reveals that millennials spend the least per trip while boomers and the silent generation spend the most.¹¹

Average trip cost per person by generation¹¹

  • Gen Z ( 12 to 27): $1,975.33
  • Millennial (29 to 43): $1,918.84
  • Gen X (44 to 59 ): $2,677.48
  • Boomer (60 to 78 ): $2,898.89
  • Silent (79 and up): $3,613.92

The effects of inflation on vacation costs

While airline ticket prices greatly outpaced the rate of inflation a few years ago, rates have started to slow.¹² Even as overall inflation rates moderate and transportation rates decline, inflation rates and transportation costs still impact people’s travel plans.

According to one survey, those still looking to travel plan to deal with the high costs by cutting back on things like shopping and eating out.¹³

Travelers are also reducing costs by shortening their trips, choosing destinations closer to home, and choosing more affordable accommodations.

13 Money-saving tips for vacation budgeting

If you’re looking for ways to trim your vacation budget, there are tons of money-saving travel tips to consider, including:

  1. Start saving early. The earlier you start budgeting and saving for your vacation, the better. Once you know when and where you want to travel, start researching the costs. After establishing a budget, figure out how much you have to save each month to make your trip happen.
  2. Open a high-yield account. If you want to get serious about vacation savings, consider opening a high-yield savings account for your travel fund. If you start saving early, you can earn more interest in a high-yield account than in a regular savings account.
  3. Automate vacation savings. Automate your savings to ensure you never forget to save for your vacation. Decide how much money you need to put away each month to meet your savings goal, and then automate it so you don’t need to think about it again.
  4. Plan your meals. Eating three meals a day at a restaurant can add up fast, especially for families. If you have a kitchenette in your hotel, consider buying groceries and eating certain meals, like breakfast and snacks, in your room. Plan when you want to go out for a sit-down dinner and when you can grab a sandwich or snacks from the grocery store.
  5. Pack essentials. Pack essentials like toiletries, pain medications, sunscreen, a phone charger, adaptors, and even a first-aid kit to avoid unnecessary travel purchases.
  6. Stay outside of tourist destinations. If you’re okay with walking, biking, or taking public transit, look for accommodations outside of the main tourist areas. You might save on your hotel or vacation rental by staying a little farther away.
  7. Travel off-season. This probably won’t come as a surprise, but traveling in the off-season or shoulder season can save you money. It’s simple supply and demand.
  8. Book flights in advance. If you want to save on airfare, the best time to book a domestic flight is one to two months before you plan to travel.¹⁴ For international trips, try to book three to six months before departure or seven to eight months in advance if you’re traveling to Asia or Australia.
  9. Book midweek flights. If your departure date is flexible, look for a midweek departure. Midweek is often cheaper for domestic flights, while a Sunday departure is the most expensive.¹⁴
  10. Stretch your money. When researching where you want to go, see which countries provide the best exchange on the dollar. Traveling to countries in Asia, like Vietnam or Thailand, provides more favorable exchange rates than places like Dubai or Switzerland.
  11. Use credit card rewards. If you collect points or rewards with a travel credit card, consider redeeming some of them to save on travel.
  12. Travel with friends. When you travel with friends, you can rent a large house and split the cost. You can also split on car rentals, food, and alcohol.
  13. Focus on one big trip. Rather than spending money on several smaller trips throughout the year, focus on saving for one large trip.
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Decide how much to spend on vacation

The average cost of a one week vacation in the U.S. is $1,991 or $3,982 for a couple.¹ However, how much you spend on a vacation can vary greatly depending on where and when you travel and what you plan to do when you arrive.

Start planning and saving early if you’re working with a tight budget but still want to go on vacation. Check out more tips for how to budget for holiday travel.

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¹ Information from Budget Your Trip's "How much does a trip to the United States of American cost? as of April 30, 2024: https://www.budgetyourtrip.com/united-states-of-america/trip-cost-US

² Information from Hopper's "Q2 2024 Consumer Travel Index" as of May 8, 2024: https://media.hopper.com/research/q2-consumer-travel-index

³ Information from budget your trip's "How much does it cost to travel to the United States of America?" as of April 29, 2024: https://www.budgetyourtrip.com/united-states-of-america

⁴ Information from One Stop Parking's  "How much does airport parking cost per day?" as of April 30, 2024. https://blog.onestopparking.com/how-much-does-airport-parking-cost-per-day/

⁵ Information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration as of April 29, 2024: https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/

⁶ Information from Cruise America's "How much does the average RV park cost per night? as of May 1, 2024: https://www.cruiseamerica.com/trip-inspiration/average-rv-park-cost

⁷ Information from The Business Times "The price of admission to America's museums keeps rising" as of April 30, 2024: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/lifestyle/price-admission-americas-museums-keeps-rising

⁸ Information from Team Marketing Report's "Fan cost index" as of April 30, 2024: https://teammarketing.com/fancostindex/

⁹ Information from CNBC's "Here's when you can visit a national park for free" as of April 30, 2024: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/12/22/heres-when-you-can-visit-a-national-park-for-free-in-2024.html

¹⁰ Information from ABC7 New York's "Broadway ticket prices for shows skyrocket reaching new all-time high" as of April 30, 2024: https://abc7ny.com/broadway-show-ticket-prices-have-reached-a-new-all-time-high-topping-out-at-over-128/14610031/

¹¹ Information from SquareMouth Travel Insurance "Live Travel Insurance Data" as of May 8, 2024: https://www.squaremouth.com/live-data?date_range=last_30_days

¹² Information from US Inflation Calculator's "Airline inflation: Airline ticket prices (1964-2024) as of May 1, 2024: https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/airfare-inflation/

¹³ Information from Leger's "How will high inflation affect U.S. consumers' winter travel" as of May 1, 2024: https://leger360.com/en/how-will-high-inflation-affect-u.s.-consumers-winter-travel/

¹⁴ Information from Hopper's " 2024 Travel Booking Hacks," as of April 30, 2024: https://media.hopper.com/research/2024-travel-booking-hacks

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