Average Vacation Cost 2024 [Lodging, Food & Transportation]

Updated On: 10/25/2023
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Planning a great getaway should be an exciting endeavor, not one shadowed by the daunting reality of expenses.

So you might be wondering - what's the average vacation cost? Well, don't worry, we've got your back. From the most frugal to the splurge-worthy, there are many ways to spend your hard-earned money on a great vacation.

Whether it's a tropical beach retreat or an adventurous hike in the mountains, understanding the expenses of a vacation can help you enjoy every moment without breaking the bank.

It isn't just about throwing cash blindly into an experience but making savvy decisions that enrich your life. Let’s take a look at the puzzle known as average vacation costs.

How Much Does The Average Vacation Cost For One Person?

How Much Does The Average Vacation Cost For One Person?

This varies depending on various factors such as location, length of trip, and activities.

The estimated cost can be roughly calculated based on typical expenses for accommodation, meals, transportation, and more. For a 3-day family vacation, one can expect to budget approximately $3,609.39.

If we break this down per person for a week (assumed as 7 days), it comes to around $330. If two people vacation together for a week, the estimated expense would be about $700.

Please note these are only approximate figures, and your costs might vary according to individual preferences and choices.

Moreover, you should also stay prepared for unexpected costs. These can include baggage fees, the exchange rate, and trip cancellations, among others. Hence, having extra funds at your disposal is important.

Using a credit card is a great way to pay for any minor emergencies that come with traveling. For those seeking options, consider checking out NinjaCard, which might offer additional benefits and discounts.

With NinjaCard, users can access a line of credit ranging from $500 to $1,000. This means you can get the funds you need promptly, which is especially useful when unexpected travel costs arise.

One of its standout features is that you only pay for what you use. Plus, there are no withdrawal limits up to your credit limit, providing flexibility during your travels.

Average Transportation Costs per Person

Transportation can take a significant slice out of your vacation budget. There are many different forms of transport to choose from; planes, trains, ferries, or rental cars, and it’s important to understand the impact of each on your budget before making a decision. The cost will vary widely based on your destination and the type of travel you opt for.

Domestic Round-Trip Flight

Domestic travel doesn’t usually break the bank. On average, a round-trip flight within the U.S. costs roughly $330.This hefty price tag is due to increasing fuel prices, crew salaries, airport fees, and maintenance costs.

The price can fluctuate depending on the time and season of travel. Booking early or during airline sales can drastically cut costs.

International Round-Trip Flight

International trip costs are understandably higher, with an average price of about $810 for a round-trip ticket. This includes major continents like Europe, Asia, and Australia but excludes pricey Antarctica expeditions (that's another ballgame entirely!).

Like domestic flights, prices surge during peak seasons like Christmas and New Year but drop during quiet periods.

To mitigate these expenses, check if your credit card has travel reward points that you can use or take advantage of budget airlines that offer competitive rates. Skyscanner and Google Flights offer an overview of when airfare is cheaper.

Rental Car

The rental car is a go-to option for many vacationers, allowing you to explore at your own pace. The average cost of a rental car in the U.S. is around $73 per day.

This can fluctuate based on the make and model you choose, location, and rental duration. Remember to check if your auto insurance policy or credit card covers rental cars before hiring one to save some cash.

Gas

Planning on substantial driving during your vacation? Keep gas prices in mind as part of your budget.

On average, the daily gas cost for vacationers in the U.S. is about $57. It's important to remember that gas prices fluctuate based on regional differences, time of year, and current events impacting oil prices.

You could use an online calculator like AAA's Triptik to calculate potential gas expenditures for road trips. It gives a pretty accurate estimation, taking into consideration factors like distance traveled, type of vehicle used, and regional gas prices.

Airport Parking

Those who travel regularly by airplane will know that airport parking adds significantly to your travel costs. The average cost for airport parking in the US ranges between $32.50 and $75 per day, depending on factors like location, duration, and whether you opt for short-term or long-term parking.

While flagship airports like JFK and Los Angeles International have steeper prices, smaller locales may offer slightly cheaper options.

Look into perks if you've got a branded credit card or are part of a frequent flier program, as you could score discounted rates or even free parking days. Remember, reserving your slot in advance saves substantially on daily costs.

Public Transit and Rideshare Services

Public transportation and rideshare services like Uber or Lyft are an economical alternative to car rentals or taxis for commuting during your vacation.

The average expenditure is approximately $36 per day for getting around major cities in the US. These services provide flexibility as they are available round-the-clock and could serve as an efficient means of transport when local attractions are far apart.

It's also worthwhile to check out local bus, tram, or subway service monthly pass options, which sometimes work out cheaper than daily tickets. Keep in mind that most public service systems don’t run 24/7. It is recommended to check their working hours. 

Also Read: Average Wedding Costs By State [2024 Latest Statistics]

Average Food Cost for a Vacation

Average Food Cost for a Vacation

Immersing yourself in local cuisine is a big part of getting the whole vacation experience. It's an opportunity to discover fantastic tastes, traditions, and social scenarios – all wrapped up in your food budget line.

Average Restaurant Meal

Are you eager to try that local pub or restaurant on your city tour? An average restaurant meal can cost you from as little as $10 in some parts of the U.S. to over $60 in places like New York City and San Francisco.

For a conservative estimate, let's assume it's around $18 per person. Remember that prices can fluctuate depending on location and type of restaurant. Don’t forget about tipping, which works out to roughly 15-20% of your total bill. During vacation, you will most likely have breakfast at your hotel lobby, lunch while sightseeing, and dinner with friends or family. Instead of eating out every meal, consider ordering groceries for breakfasts and snacks to cut back costs.

Break Down of Budget Meals

One Person(3 meals)

A daily budget of $45 for 3 meals would break down as follows:

Breakfast: Around $10

Start your day with a wholesome, nutritious breakfast. This could be a bowl of oatmeal with fruits and nuts, a smoothie, or a bagel with cream cheese. You should also include a beverage like tea or coffee.

Lunch: Approximately $15

Lunch could be the largest meal of the day. It can consist of a main dish like a sandwich, salad, or pasta. Adding soup or a side dish might add to the cost as well.

Dinner: Roughly $15
This meal should be lighter so it's easier to digest before bedtime. You could choose from grilled chicken with vegetables, mushroom risotto, or fish tacos.

Snacks and Beverages: The remaining $5 can be spent on snacks like granola bars, fruits, yogurt, and beverages throughout the day.

Alcohol for One Person

The cost of alcohol greatly varies by location. You could spend as little as $5 on domestics but potentially shell out up to $15 on signature cocktail drinks at upscale lounges.

The average expenditure is around $21 per day on alcoholic beverages when vacationing. If we assume that a person orders two drinks per day, then the average cost would fall between $10-$12 for both drinks per person, gratuity not included.

It’s important to be mindful about enjoying libations responsibly - from both a health perspective and your wallet’s perspective!

Average Lodging Cost For A Vacation

Choosing the perfect vacation accommodation that caters to your needs without rupturing your budget may feel like an impossible act. Each type of accommodation has unique benefits and price ranges, from luxury hotels to cost-effective camping sites.

Hotel Room

For many travelers, hotels offer an enticing blend of convenience, comfort, and services. Whether a budget-friendly hotel or the most extravagant suite, the cost includes housekeeping, security, concierge services, and amenities like a pool or in-house restaurant.

As per Statista's report in 2020, the average rate for a hotel room in the U.S. is approximately $102 per night. Cities famous for tourism, like New York and San Francisco, have higher rates.

Vacation Rental

If you're looking for a home-away-from-home experience on vacation, consider privately owned properties rented out to tourists. These add that extra touch of comfort and privacy. Websites like Airbnb or VRBO make it easy to find gorgeous apartments or villas worldwide that cater to every budget.

In America, such rentals cost around $137 per night on average, as mentioned by IPX 1031’s survey of 2020, which reviewed prices across popular Airbnb markets.

RV Campsite

Camping in RVs has emerged as an increasingly popular travel choice owing largely to increased freedom of movement and closeness with nature.

As per Campendium's 2020 report, which takes into account hundreds of thousands of reviews by campers all across North America each year - prices typically range from as low as $30 to lavish resorts charging $50 per night (where you get amenities from swimming pools to fitness centers).

Remember, no matter what lodging option you choose, advanced booking often snags better deals, irrespective of whether they are hotels or vacation homes. A little research goes a long way in determining which campgrounds will fit into your budget while enjoying the best of what nature has to offer.

Also Read: Average Cost of Raising a Child 2024 [Complete Cost Breakdown]

Average Entertainment Cost for a Vacation

Average Entertainment Cost for a Vacation

Remember to dedicate a portion of your budget to entertainment when planning your vacation. The cost of entertainment will vary depending on the activities you choose. You may yearn for cultural enrichment in a museum, crave thrills at an amusement park, or seek harmony with nature in a national park.

Museums

Museum prices vary drastically based on location and the institution's prestige. Expect to pay between $15 and $25 per person for admission to most premier museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) or The Getty (LA).

Concerts

If you are a music lover, attending a live concert could be an unforgettable experience. On average, ticket prices for top-tier musical acts range from $50-$100 per seat, although prices can be higher based on demand and seating location.

National Parks

Budget about $30 per vehicle for a 7-day pass at many national parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite. Keep in mind that some parks are free while others are more pricey.

Amusement Parks

If thrill rides are more your speed, factor in costs around $100 per day at renowned parks like Disney World or Universal Studios.Adding everything up, you could spend $600 on entertainment alone during an average vacation. These numbers indicate how important it is to factor entertainment costs into your plans alongside food, lodging, and transportation.

FAQs about Average Vacation Cost

How much does the average American spend on vacation per year?

The average American spends approximately $2,000 annually on summer vacations alone.

Is there a general rule for a vacation budget?

A good rule of thumb is to aim for a vacation costing about 10% of your yearly income.

What are some unexpected expenses that could arise while vacationing?

Unplanned expenses could include emergency healthcare, unexpected transportation fares, and phone roaming charges.

How do I save money on flights and accommodations for my vacation?

Booking your trip in advance, comparing prices across different platforms, and traveling during off-peak seasons can help you save costs significantly.

How can I minimize food costs while on vacation?

Opt for local food joints over touristy restaurants, eat a heavy breakfast (if included in your accommodation), or consider self-catering if possible.

Conclusion

Planning a vacation is indeed an exciting task, but it requires careful budgeting. When done right, you can enjoy that long-awaited break and see your hard-earned money translate into memorable experiences. Understanding the average vacation cost ensures you can balance your desire for relaxation and adventure without straining your wallet.

Whether you're dreaming of a tropical beach escape or a high-octane adventure trip, remember that thoughtful planning is critical. A well-budgeted vacation means more fun, less stress, and more moments worth cherishing!

Michael Restiano

I support product content strategy for Salt Money. Additionally, I’m helping develop content strategy and processes to deliver quality work for our readers.

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