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While the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t completely gone away, many travel restrictions have been lifted, making 2022 the first time in years that many Americans will start traveling again. But the combination of rising travel costs and pent-up demand leading to overspending can mean your vacation will cost more than expected. To get some insight into how people in the United States are managing their travel budget as we head into the busy summer travel season, GOBankingRates conducted a survey of 1,037 Americans in early April 2022 regarding their travel spending. and other travel-related matters. Here is an overview of some of the answers, which may be useful when writing a budget for your next vacation.
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How many respondents exceeded their budget?
Overall, 33.75% of survey respondents said they went over budget, with 11.38% saying they paid significantly more than their budget. A tiny 6.46% said they were under budget.
What was the average travel budget?
While “over budget” numbers are helpful, they are meaningless when unrelated to actual numbers. To get an idea of how much Americans actually spend while on vacation, one of the survey questions asked how much money respondents spent on their last vacation. Nearly 27% of respondents said they spent more than $2,000 on their last vacation. However, just under 35% said their most recent travel budget was $500 or less. Overall, the best survey response was a budget between $1,001 and $2,000.
POLL: How much do you plan to spend on travel this summer?
Where did respondents spend more than expected?
Survey respondents seemed surprised at how much they were spending in various categories. It is unclear whether this was due to increased costs across the board or higher than expected spending by respondents, but it is likely a combination of these factors. A third of respondents indicated that the cost of accommodation, travel and entertainment was higher than expected, while 44.65% indicated that they spent more than expected on meals. Fees were also rated higher than expected by 17.36% of respondents.
How did respondents attempt to save on travel?
Nearly 40% of respondents said they cooked their own meals on their last vacation to save on costs. This is a smart strategy, as nearly 45% of survey participants indicated that restaurant meals cost more than expected. More than a third said they used public transport and/or avoided renting a car to save costs, which is a particularly appropriate strategy at a time of skyrocketing fuel prices. About 30% used a discount travel site in an effort to save money, while just over 23% said they used airline or hotel points.
Other Tips for Saving on Travel
As the survey clearly indicates, travel costs were generally higher than expected for survey respondents, and a variety of factors caused many to go over budget. If you’re planning a trip for later this year, you can take inspiration from the survey to keep your own costs under control. Here are some suggestions, based on the information gathered from respondents:
Start with a larger travel budget
As simple as it sounds, the easiest way to stay on budget is to start with a larger budget from the start. The best way to do this is to delay your vacation slightly and give your savings some time to grow. If you contribute $300 a month to your vacation budget, for example, waiting just three more months to take your trip will increase your budget by almost $1,000. While no one wants to delay a trip, if it means you can travel stress-free without worrying about going into debt to fund your vacation, that makes sense.
Compare the prices
Two of the most competitive industries in the world are accommodation and restaurants. This offers great opportunities for travelers eager to shop. In all but the most remote locations, there are plenty of options for restaurants and accommodation. If you can avoid the more expensive hotels and restaurants, your vacation budget can stretch much further. Even if you’re looking for a five-star experience, you can probably make choices that will help you keep some of your money in the bank. For example, rather than staying in a branded international five-star hotel, check out private accommodations in the area or even locally run hotels. You may find that the class and service of these offerings equals or even exceeds the more well-known options.
Pay attention to fees
Fees are often well hidden by travel service providers, but they can definitely blow your budget if you don’t keep an eye on them. From airline service charges to hotel “resort fees,” these not-so-small add-ons are easy to overlook, but can wreak havoc on your travel budget. Airline credit cards can help you avoid baggage fees and can even provide access to airport lounges, while hotel loyalty programs can offer perks like waiving parking fees and free breakfast for your whole group.
More from GOBankingRates
Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,037 Americans ages 18 and older across the country between April 8 and April 9, 2022, asking seven different questions: (1) How much did you spend on your last vacation? ; (2) If money weren’t an issue, where would you choose to go on vacation? ; (3) What was your biggest incentive to travel? ; (4) How did you pay for your last vacation? ; (5) Did you stick to your budget for your last vacation? ; (6) Which part of the trip cost more than expected? (Select all that relate to it); and (7) What cost-cutting measures did you use on your last vacation? (Select all that relate to it). GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the survey.