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What do you spend on the average family vacation?

What do you spend on the average family vacation?

Old Feb 6th, 2008, 01:58 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 5,695
Most of the regular contributors on this forum are not affluent nor are they in debt as "nina" suggests. Rather they are normal people whose priority is "Travel". Most of us don't spend our money on fancy cars, big screen TV's, the latest electronic gear, or expensive restaurants. Instead we save money so we can travel. Others are retired but live frugally when they were working and invested wisely so they could travel in retirement.

It's all a matter of priorities. You have to distinguish between wants and needs as in I need a car but I want a Lexus or I need a tv but I want a 52" HD Flat Screen with Surround Sound. We don't buy things we can't afford. The only debt most of us have is the mortgage on our house which, by the way, is probably modest by most people's standards.
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We probably spend about 10% - 15% of our take home pay on vacations or weekend trips.
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 03:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Our travel budget is aided and stretched considerably by my husband's FF miles and his hotel points. We usually take 2 plane vacations/yr. with mostly all FF miles and with a hotel night or two covered with points. I "manage" these accounts to try to maximize their value. My husband just reached a higher tier on his airplane and hotel accounts, and I told him if he just missed them, he'd need to do a mileage run!

We are not in debt, but travel is our priority over other discretionary spending. My kids are in their teens now and we feel we have very few years left to travel as a family without college/work commitments interfering, so we take 3-4 vacations/year. I'm a bargain hunter for clothes and I don't care that I drive an older car (we take our cars to 100K). I'm totally unimpressed with having a McMansion, a huge home theatre system, or other high end electronics.

When we do travel, we rarely get more than a standard hotel room and it's usually a Holiday Inn v. nicer brand. We also don't really prefer the kind of travel that can get very expensive, i.e. a week a Disney, cruises, all-inclusive Caribbean vacations.

We are "saving" driving vacations for when we no longer have the luxury of FF miles (if either they continue to be de-valued so much, or if my husband would take another job). Although, we will probably ski locally next year rather than doing another West coast ski trip b/c those get EXPENSIVE.
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 03:08 PM
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Roams is exactly right. We have two older '02 & '98, paid for cars. Our home is only about 1400 sq. ft. but we utilize the outside since that is where we spend most of our free time. Travel IS our priority. Of course everyone said that would change when we had children...they were wrong.
Old Feb 6th, 2008, 03:10 PM
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I don't care that I drive an older car (we take our cars to 100K

I was PROUD of the Acura I just gave up with 160,000 miles on it (and going strong -- one of my son's friends has it this year). You're right, it's just priorities. My particular priorities are travel and my house -- I just don't care about expensive clothes, art, jewelry or cars.
Old Feb 6th, 2008, 05:15 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 3
We usually travel (from Indiana) to the Chicago area and stay with my husband's sisters and go boating in the summer. So we don't spend much on vacation other than 2 tanks of gas and a few meals.

Last year our family of 4 flew to Florida and spent about $2500 total. I thought it was a great deal considering we stayed at a luxury resort. We have friends that have a timeshare at Star Island in Kissimmee and they were able to rent a unit for us for $500 for the week.

Air fare was the biggest expense. We went to Disney 1 day. Other than that we just had car rental, gas, food, and souvenirs. I budgeted $50/day per person for food and that was plenty. The souvenirs really added up and I'll try to remember this next time. It's just tooooo easy to put them on the Visa card!

Both my husband's health insurance, and mine, went to high-deductible plans last year, and our daughter broke her arm. So we're paying off $4000 in medical bills in lieu of a vacation this year! : (
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 05:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 3
Just one more thought about vacations...

My sister was taken away from us from cancer in 2006 at age 57.

She LOVED to travel and often helped pay for me, my sisters, and our kids, to come along because she was single and lived at home w/Mom.

I always went, but usually worried about how much I was spending. Now I see that time as worth every dollar and then some. Especially since my son is now 20. You can always make more money but you can never replace time spent with your loved ones!
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Old Feb 6th, 2008, 06:20 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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We have been extremely fortunate that my DH's job has benefited his frequent flyer and hotel accounts. We have taken a vacation every year for the last five years with four free flights and many free hotel stays. The cost of our trip for a week will then run about 2000. or 2500. for food and activities (snorkeling, scubadiving,etc..). We have been so fortunate.
This summer, we are flying free to Europe, and we have two nights free hotel...after that, we are going to have to pay. I told my DH, open the wallet and let the moths out. This trip is going to cost us this year! LOL I am expecting to pay out about 10,000 +. for our trip to Europe for two weeks. We will have two rooms in many places and we will also probably pay for much of my MIL's trip with us as well. But definitely worth the trip. We too have teens and want to travel with them now as much as possible. It is only a few years until they are both off to college and then harder to pin down for family trips. To me, this is the most fun time in enjoying my kids. I really like the teen far!
Also, we don't live extravagently and we are not in debt.
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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 03:24 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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I have enjoyed reading all of the responses. I realize I need to do a better job at tracking cost.

Typically we take two vacations per year; 1) 7-8 day vacation which requires airfare and 2) 7 days camping.

I love to plan and research our trips, something my family was unable to do while growing up. I like to stay in nice accomodations and don't mind paying a little more for this but when we go camping I don't have a problem cooking most meals or sharing a bathroom with other campers, in other words it is very primative. That's okay because this is a week spent with family, and friends and my girls look so forward to this week.

I just booked 8 days, 7 nites for our family of 4 to Los Cabos for 3850.00. This includes airfare, and staying in a moderate all inclusive hotel.

The hotel would not have been my choice but we are traveling with another family and they had a timeshare available to them so to maximize our time together we will stay at the same location.

Our week of camping runs right around 1000 (I think).

This is our time to travel we still have a few years before we have to think about college.
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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 05:15 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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dmlove, we actually stayed at "6 Columbus" (a Thompson hotel) at Columbus Circle. I scored a wicked deal on it; it was a month after its opening. When I checked back a few days after I booked, rates were $500/nt - yikes!

We're heading back to NYC for July 4 weekend and I checked rates there last week - they're about the same level so looks like we won't be staying there again...LOL!

We do different trips too. I just posted our 3 most recent. We enjoy camping (Acadia NP, long weekend $420) and sometimes mix camping & B&Bs (Newfoundland: Gros Morne camping, B&Bs elsewhere with a side trip to St. Pierre, 17 days $4425).

I think living in a condo invites us to travel more - don't have to put aside long weekends for "projects" and no gardening, etc. leads one to want to get out of the shoebox!

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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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And hundreds of times I have read on Fodors that it is just a matter of budgeting etc. etc. and making travel your priority etc. etc. etc. and on and on.

There is not one family I know or even associate with before I was the age of 35 to 40 anyway, that could do any trips or even think about ONE vacation at what is "budget" for travel here. Not if they wanted to eat, sleep in a house or an apartment, or begin to educate two children.

I'm not being a downer, and more power to you for traveling with your kids when they are young. But honestly, this travel picture IS another world from the one I have known. And it is not typical for most American families to have anywhere near this kind of discretional spending. And that's sometimes, most times, with 2 adults, both parents working.

Fodors' posters are far beyond average/ median income groups, and don't often think they are.

Even now, I could never afford to spend that much on taking my family of four anywhere. I've got a resort vacation planned for us in July '08 on the WI River in WI and it is going to cost at the most $1600 for 11 people for 5 days, and that includes the waterparks. And I am stretching to Ramen Noodles time just to do that.

I will omit the money question threads from now on, so I don't get jealous. Maybe in another life!

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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 09:29 AM
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Great point, JJ. Your average Fodor's poster is wealthier than most Americans, has more disposable income, and is likely to be better educated.

One of my workmen is more like the other half of Americans. He is blue-collar and has no wish to travel or spend a week at the beach. He loves to golf. So he often takes days off one at a time to golf(cheaply) and only once in four years of employment did he vacation for a week at the beach with his aged parents. It makes him happy.
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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 09:42 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I do understand your point, JJ5, but I would still say travel is a lot about budgeting and priorities. And I do know how very lucky my family is to have the travel perks my husband receives from being a frequent business traveler. My kids have been to more places in 10 or 12 years that it took me about 30 years to visit. We rarely took family vacations when I was growing up.

As a result, I had no idea how awesome travel was. It was big leap for us to get out of the day trip or Florida vacation mentality b/c it was all I knew. Our first trip out West was to CA (SF, Yosemite) and once I saw Yosemite I knew I had to see more of the national parks. And the more we traveled, the better got at it, and the better we got at finding bargains, etc.

I have neighbors and peers who comment that they can't do the travel we do, but they also choose to spend their money in very different ways (new cars every 2-3 years, drastic home remodels, frequent expensive restaurant meals). We have no more money than them - we just spend it differently. They also will go on a family cruise that will cost over $10K and we go on 2 trips (plus) for that much money.

So I do believe a lot of it is priorities.

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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Madigal - you may be right about $600/day for Hawaii, and I would add that a skiing trip that involves a plane flight, or Disney World (at one of their $$ resorts) could easily cost well in excess of that.
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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 09:58 AM
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Yes, Karen. That explains why I never went to Hawaii, ski resorts, or Disneyworld as a kid.

We spent our lucky two weeks camping. My poor mother. She never got a break from cooking, grocery shopping, or cleaning, and had twice as much work cleaning up after all the camping dirt.
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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 10:08 AM
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A nice lady at the church we attend said to my wife that "You go away so often on vacation. We never do." Yet her husband makes good money as a nerve gas inspector(probably close to $ 100,000). Yet her kids are dressed at church in expensive clothes. I drive a truck with 365,000 miles on it. So it can be a matter of priorities. If your husband is making 100 grand a year and you're not going places for vacation, you can only blame yourself.

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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 10:35 AM
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It was big leap for us to get out of the day trip or Florida vacation mentality

The same mother (who by the way grew up quite poor) who took us on trips (and to the theatre and ballet) used to remark that she was so glad they turned down the opportunity to buy a share of a country cottage when it was offered (country cottage is a euphemism for a dump, but it was on a lake!) because we never would have gone anywhere else!
Old Feb 7th, 2008, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253
My oldest kid and his wife can afford to take their kids on plane vacations, not these here posted specifically and not Hawaii, but some.

I'm not talking ANY remodels, new cars, fancy clothes etc. Just living basics, and these are all college grads. Our cost of living in IL is humongous, always has been, and many of these people are educators. They simply will never have the money at these levels of travel. Not if they want a sewer that works or they want to eat in their own kitchen. That's the reality.

And what is defined here as "bargain", is not what my daughter would define as "bargain" if you want to get specific $$. She is a Masters degreed person too, and her kids don't even go to private school. They have 1 bathroom for 4 people, and it is not a possibly for them to be using $2000 for air fare. I try to help them expand, but they don't want to take.

I was independent, and I didn't want to either.

This is to a point of beyond subjective comparisons.
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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 11:10 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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We are not in any revolving debt at all - we have car payments and a mortgage...

Some years are leaner then others regarding vacations. We own a timeshare at the Palm Desert Marriot and have loaded up the kids in the car and gone there for a week... but yes, we have spent 5,000.00 some years and not so much other years.

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Old Feb 7th, 2008, 11:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Some of our vacations are splurges and others are not (like backpacking). For Hawaii, we are staying at the military resort, so that really helps with the cost.

France last summer was a splurge. But even that we didn't come close to spending $600 a day.

Many summers we rent a home at Sunriver resort. Sometimes we share with another family, so that cuts the cost down.

In the summer we like to backpack, and occassionally camp in a regular campground. So the only cost with backpacking is our annual NW Forest Pass, which is minimal.
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