2023 average vacation cost: Breakdown of travel, food and more

Published Date: October 24, 2023

A lodging cabin sits in the woods, representing one of the purchases that must be factored into the average vacation cost.
How much does the average vacation cost?
The average vacation for one person in the U.S. costs about $1,919 per week. A vacation for two people will typically cost around $3,838 per week.
Costs are rising all over the world, and that has hopeful travelers exploring their options. Many people save money and personal days all year for their one big vacation. If you expect your old travel budget to go as far as it did in past years, you may be in for a surprise.    Surveys show that 28% of travelers plan to spend more than they budgeted for in 2019. The average vacation cost may be on the rise, but by identifying the key expenses in your trip, you may be able to make it more affordable.

Average travel cost for a vacation

A receipt displays the average vacation cost for a family to travel for four days.
Travel arrangements related to your vacation costs rack up fast. Not only do you have to figure out how you’re getting there, but you’ll need to know how you’ll be moving around once you’re there. A solo traveler is more likely to find a single seat on a plane and make due with public transit and rideshare services at their destination. That way, they’re able to avoid the added burden of looking after a car — as well as the added expenses that come with it. Traveling with two or more people can complicate things. Even if the price of airfare for a family of four is not outside of your vacation budget, the daily cost of a rental car or rideshare services for everyone may be too much to handle. Driving your own car to the destination — even with today’s gas prices — or using public transit may put the cost of a trip within reach.

The breakdown: Average transportation costs per person per vacation

Domestic round-trip flight$330
International round-trip flight$810
Rental car$73 PER DAY
Gas$57 PER DAY
Airport parking$32.50 TO $75 PER DAY
Public transit and rideshare services$36 PER DAY

Average lodging cost for a vacation

An image displays the average vacation cost for a family to stay at various lodging options.
Getting to your relaxing destination is only part of the battle. Where you choose to stay will also play a huge role in your average vacation cost. Hotels have historically been the tried-and-true favorite, offering safety and dependability to travelers — but they do greatly increase the average cost of a vacation per day. Solo travelers can look to hostels for a cheaper alternative, so long as they’re willing to give up some of their privacy. Vacation rental services like Airbnb and VRBO offer alternatives to hotels for travelers with more demanding needs. These services can provide multiple rooms at a reduced rate per person than most hotels are able to offer.

The breakdown: Average lodging cost for a vacation

Single-person hotel/hostel room$102 PER NIGHT
Double-occupancy hotel room$204 PER NIGHT
RV campsite$30 TO $50 PER NIGHT
Vacation rental$137 PER NIGHT

Average food cost for a vacation

An image displays the average vacation cost for food and drink purchases.
A big motivator for travelers is being able to experience local food. Unfortunately, restaurant bills can be three times the amount of making the same meal at home. To help keep your food expenses low — as well as the cost of a trip as a whole — try to limit the number of times you eat out during the day. Taking advantage of a hotel’s complimentary breakfast is one easy alternative. Booking lodging at a place with a kitchen means you can purchase local food and prepare it yourself. The money you save by substituting these meals can be used toward a special meal at a restaurant, or it can be used toward offsetting your other vacation costs.

The breakdown: Average food costs for a vacation

3 meals for one person$46 PER DAY
Average restaurant meal$18 PER PERSON
Alcohol for one person$21 PER DAY

Average entertainment cost for a vacation

An image displays the average vacation cost for various activities per day.
While the other three categories are rather predictable factors in your average vacation cost, what you plan to do on your vacation is more of a wild card. Visiting family will likely keep entertainment costs low, but a multi-day trip to a luxury ski resort can quickly push trip costs out of your budget. Planning your activities in advance can help reduce costs. Similar to plane tickets and rental cars, buying in advance can help you take advantage of discounts that may not be available to people making purchases on the day of. If you’re traveling with your family, look for activities that have group rates, like national parks that charge by the vehicle.

The breakdown: Average cost of entertainment for a vacation

Museums$15 TO $32 PER PERSON
Concerts$96 PER PERSON
National parksUP TO $35 PER VEHICLE
Luxury ski resorts$160 PER DAY
Amusement parks$60 TO $266 PER DAY

Tips for budgeting on vacation

A good budget will help you save money during your vacation, making it possible to experience more throughout the year. Apply these tips while planning your budget and you might be able to come in lower than the average vacation cost. 
  • Make reservations far in advance. Travelers can save up to 38% by booking rental cars three months out.   
  • Travel to locations outside of their peak seasons for discounts on airfare and lodging. 
  • Use credit cards that have travel rewards or customer loyalty programs.
  • Save money on food by preparing meals yourself or taking advantage of a complimentary hotel breakfast. This can make a $15 meal free or cost only $5.
Due to inflation, it’s becoming more difficult for people to travel without going into debt. Learning about average vacation costs is a great starting point for planning your trip and keeping expenses under budget.If you travel to the same location regularly, buying a second home there can reduce your lodging expenses. If owning a second home feels like it’s out of budget, there’s also the option of co-ownership to further curb costs.

Average vacation cost FAQ

Here are answers to some common questions about budgeting for vacation.

How much does the average vacation cost for one person?

The average vacation cost for one person in the U.S. is about $1,919 per week. Individual costs will vary based on the traveler’s mode of transportation and lodging.

How much should I budget for a vacation?

Many people set aside 5-10% of their net yearly income for leisure travel, but this can vary greatly based on the type of vacations they’re planning.Another popular budgeting option is the 50/30/20 rule:
  • 50% of net income is spent on things you need
  • 30% of net income is spent on things you want 
  • 20% of net income is saved
This approach requires the traveler to factor their vacations into their total leisure spending, but allows them to work with a greater sum of money.

How much cash do you need on vacation?

It is recommended you have roughly $50 to $100 per person in cash for every day of your trip. So, two people traveling together for a week should have between $700 and $1,400 between them, depending on the activities they plan to experience.Sources: US Travel | Hopper | Kayak | Zutobi | Budget Your Trip | Camper Report | All The Rooms | Consumer Affairs | Statista | Outside | Family Skier | Business Insider

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