Does Your Vacation Budget Seem Short? Via

Does Your Vacation Budget Seem Short?

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.

Discretionary spending on things like drinks can bust your budget, via @TravelLatte

Discretionary spending on things like drinks and clothing drives up holiday costs quickly, and is often forgotten when planning a budget. (Photo: Laurin Rinder | Dreamstime )

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.

See also  Travel140: Budget for Breakfast

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?

17 comments on “Does Your Vacation Budget Seem Short?

  1. We had to buy my teen son an entire week’s wardrobe so that we could go on a trip. We were living in the tropics at the time and had a autumn trip to China and Tibet planned. He had far outgrown his old winter wardrobe, and we had to pay a premium for the new clothes since it’s considered luxury wear in Malaysia. Because it’s tropical year-round there, he wouldn’t need the cold weather clothes anytime after he got back either. Luckily, he didn’t grow much taller after that and is able to wear the clothes more often now that we are back in Texas.

    • Sometimes, it’s unavoidable…but needing to buy something you might never use again? Ugh. But that’s just the sort of thing I sure don’t think about when trying to figure out my vacation budget! Thanks for the comment!

  2. Pingback: Arm Chair Travel #2 - Toddlers on Tour

    • Hi Corinne, you are so right! I know we try to factor in some splurges, but I’m still surprised when we get back and I start adding things up. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. When I started to travel, I used to buy clothes and a lot of extras for my trips. Now, I do not buy anything unless it is something I really need. I used to bring a lot of souvenirs too. I do not do that anymore. I stick to things I can use / wear or little things like postcards.

    • Hi Ruth, thanks for the comment! Our TravelLatte team is at that point, too. In fact, I think that’s a sure sign of a seasoned traveller. Even when it’s not about budgeting money, it’s about budgeting space. Who has room for big souvenirs when you’re trying to get away with just one bag??? 😉

    • Hi Anda! True Confession: We don’t do well with budgets either. We keep an eye on funds and do have a top-end “guess-timate”, but we don’t obsess over the budget. Still, it’s a good talent to develop, especially when you’re traveling long term with finite funding. Thanks for your comment!

  4. I think one of the problems comes from attitude change you get toward spending money while on the vacation. I know we tend to spend more than we usually would on some things while we are travelling and just have the “it’s OK, were on holidays” attitude. But that way of thinking sure can blow the budget out without you really noticing.

    • Hello Dean & Pauline! Welcome, and thanks for your comment….which is SO true! Where I really fall into that trap is when dining out; I definitely pay more attention to that part of the budget at home. By the way, I was just reading Wandering Donut, and love it! My youngest is about Dana’s age and we’re hoping she’ll start her own blog, too.

    • Thanks for your comment, Sally! We’ve actually been discussing that over here. There are definitely some things that wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t going on holiday. How many times have you bought a new swimsuit for a beach trip when you really didn’t need to? I admit to using vacation as an excuse to do that. Often these are not the sort of things we include in a vacation budget, but when we look at where the money went, it was directly related to that trip. Whether you should include that in your vacation budget is what we’ve been debating amongst ourselves. The “frugal” one says yes, everyone else says no. 😉

  5. Yes I agree, doing a realistic budget for a trip can be quite confronting! I’m in the process of planning a family trip and the moment, and now that our kids are in their teens, we have to pay full adult fare for everything, which really adds to the cost. It’s taken a lot of the shine off the trip plans, I can tell you!

    • Oh, we’ve been there! The end of Kids Eat/Stay/Play/Enter Free is huge. Thankfully, my kids have had other activities during their teen years and hardly missed that our “big vacation” turned into an every-other-year getaway. Of course, kids’ sports are budget breakers, too. In fact, kids in general… 😉

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