How Much Do You Spend On Vacations?

Carnival Cruise Trip Cost ReportVacations are one of my favorite times of the year.

I know I’m not the only person that feels that way.

If you’re lucky enough to get paid time off from work you even get a paycheck while you’re relaxing on a beach or riding the roller coasters in your favorite theme park.

The sad part is we all know that vacations aren’t free unless you win a contest or pay for your vacation with credit card sign up bonuses.

Related: Disney World Trip Cost Report

Vacations Aren’t Cheap!

Vacations can be extremely expensive if you’re not careful. Many people easily overspend on vacations to make their families happy or because the particular vacation you are on is a once in a lifetime trip.

It is easy to relax your wallet at the same time that you’re trying to escape your daily life. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen to others many times in the few vacations I’ve been on.

On our last cruise (read the 7 day cruise cost report here) we saw plenty of evidence of people overspending on vacation all within about 5 minutes of each other. We were waiting in the guest services line to ask a question and overheard two people arguing with guest services about their bills.

The Crazy Bar Tab Denial

How Much A 7 Day Carnival Cruise CostsThe first was a group of three girls in expensive clothes arguing about their bar tab. They were certain there was no way they charged $700 of drinks in just 4 days.

The funny part was it wasn’t $700 between the three of them, it was around $700 each! Insane! If I had to guess, they probably did charge the drinks and were just trying to get out of it once they saw the bill.

Maxed Out Credit Card Denial

The second example of overspending on vacation was a lady who was asking why she couldn’t charge any more money on her onboard cruise ship account. The guest services clerk had to explain that she had maxed out her credit card at her limit of $7,000.

The cruise ship representative told the cruiser that they could put cash on the card or give a different credit card to make more charges. The guest argued with the guest service clerk for a while, but eventually left without giving another card or cash for future purchases.

Take On Debt To Go On Vacation? No Thanks!

PHoneymoon Cruise Trip Cost Reportersonally, I don’t think anyone should take on debt to go on vacation. While I will charge my purchases on a credit card when I’m on vacation, I always ensure I have enough cash to pay my credit card bill in full as soon as I get home.

Plus I get rewards for money I would have spent anyway so it is a win-win for me.

So how do you determine how much to spend on vacations? It all depends on your values and how much value you place on getting away versus living your everyday life.

Personally, we put aside a set amount of money every paycheck for any vacation we’d want to take. Once we have enough money in the account we get to go on the vacation, assuming we can get the time off from work together.

I Want To Know! How Much Do You Spend On Vacation?

I am extremely curious when it comes to average vacation spending so I thought who better to ask than you!

How much do you spend on vacation? How much do you spend in dollars or a percentage of your income? What does a typical vacation include for you? Do you use a particular method to save for your vacations such as saving up credit card rewards?

Our 7 day honeymoon Carnival cruise trip cost report, Disney World cost report and 5 day Carnival cruise trip cost report show how much we spend on our vacations.

All photos by Tori.

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. My system is pretty simple. I save $20 or more a week. I try to hit $1,000 then I go on a trip. I always try to keep it under a grand. I prefer to get away during the cold Canadian winter.

  2. For a nice week long trip, I typically plan on spending around $1,000. I set aside 10% of every paycheck for “play”. That includes everything from eating out to entertainment to vacation. This year, there’s been a lot of eating out and not a lot of income :/ I have a free flight that I need to book by the end of this month so I think I’m going to be working overtime to bring in some cash and save so I can make a vacation out of it sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  3. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    It depends on the vacation. If we go camping, it can be very cheap. My wife went on a cruise with our son for a week in the summer, and total cost was around $1,000. We will be going to Hawaii later this year. Airfare alone is $1,000 per round trip ticket. The hotel will be a little over $1,000 for the family. I don’t know what the car will cost. Gasoline is pretty expensive. We are planning to go to a luau put on my our hotel. Cost is $65 per person. Then there will be snorkeling with manta rays for $85 per person, and there’s the rental cost of snorkeling equipment on other days. Plus we have to buy some Hawaii clothing: shirts for me and our son, and at least one dress for my wife. It looks like it will be around $5,500 before we’re done.

  4. The last time I went o a real vacation it was a cruise in Europe. I used miles for the airline tickets and spent approximately $6K total (for 2 people). We usually take a major trip every other year.

  5. I always keep an eye out for the deals during the off season. You can get more than 1/2 off of in season prices! The best thing that has worked out for me in the recent years is to not be selective about where I go. This way, if a good deal comes up for an Alaskan cruise or an all-inclusive trip to the Caribbean, I’m in and excited to see something new!

  6. Alex @ Searching for Happy says:

    It all differs depending on the vacation. On a trip to Scotland it was several thousand, but on my next trip iceberg watching, it will be free (I lucked out in a contest).

    I agree with you on taking debt on for a vacation. It seems like you’ll be making yourself more stressed at a time when you’ll most want to relax!

  7. Maxed out your credit card on a trip-ekk that’s a nightmare to me. We haven’t gone on trip (other than to my parents house) since we became debt free. We’re planning a trip with my grandparents (that we’re paying for) and I hope to keep the total trip cost under $3,000 including everything for all 4 of us.

  8. Anywhere in the rage of $1,500 – $2,000 for a family of 4 for 1 week. We try and save money on the food aspect of things.

  9. For me, I need to get out of the province in order for me to consider it a real vacation. I tend to spend quite a bit of money on vacations, usually from $1500-$3000. My last trip cost me about $3000 (for a week), but it was a bucket list trip to Peru and I had saved up for it beforehand.

  10. I did 10 days in NYC for about $1500, but I only go on one trip a year. That’s all I am really allowed with my work schedule at this point, but I’m working on changing that.

  11. I’ve traveled to Canada, Guatemala and Thailand with 2 people total for under $4000 per trip. I try to stay in the $3000 range by bundling, getting airfare deals and choosing Airbnb (which is getting increasingly expensive). Each trip was about 9-10 days and tons of fun.

  12. I budget $100 for hotel/airbnb and $100 for food per day( if eating out ) . air fare , night life , tickets ,entertainment , parking and gas are going rate . but if i travel to Asia/india food hotel is less ( under $50 per day) . the air fare is higher though

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