Travel planning is an emotional roller coaster. From the elation of picking out just the perfect hotel and the thrill of victory when you score a great flight, you can nosedive into the joy-kill depression of realizing that your budget just went out the window. But don’t feel bad, because you, my friend, are not alone.
It seems that, no matter how good a deal you get on air fare and accommodations, vacation spending always goes over budget. There’s a reason for that, and it has little to do with the actual vacation. According to a new survey by British Airways Holidays, the true cost of a holiday is about double what we think…and budget for. (We’re making the assumption that the findings would be similar in the States and elsewhere.)
How much does your vacation really cost?
The survey of British holidaymakers found the average cost for a family of four is £4,260, but only about half of that – £2,328 – is spent on flights and lodging. When you include the vacation essentials – including admission charges, transportation, excursions, travel-sized toiletries, and trip insurance – that only amounts to about 70% of the total spent. But that’s where most budgeting ends. Many travelers don’t factor the extra £1,200 or so that get spent before, during, and after the actual trip.
So what else should you plan for, and where can a budget-minded family save a few quid? Survey respondents spent more than £300 on new clothes and pampering, along with more than £400 on discretionary spending both before and during their trips. This included exercise classes, books and music, extras at the airport, and souvenirs, and amounts to nearly 20% of total vacation spending. Cutting down on the extras is an easy way to keep costs down. Nearly 10% more of the spending went to food and drinks at the airport and on the road. While it’s often hard to find affordable eats when travelling, that’s another target for savings.
And what have we learned?
The lesson behind the numbers is to be sure you factor everything you’ve spent for your last vacation – including that pre-vacation Zumba class – into the budgeting for your next vacation. Looking closely at your spending will help you find places to cut costs, and shopping around can stretch your travel budget further.
Not too surprisingly, single travelers tend to spend a little more on extras like shopping, excursions, and meals. What’s a little more surprising is another survey that found when men booked the vacation, they spent about 10% more per person than women.
Do you find yourself wondering where your hard earned cash went while traveling, or are you pretty good at setting and sticking to a budget? What are some of your tricks to budget for vacation?