Quite often I get calls from excited clients that want to go on vacation. They enjoy talking about all the places on the infamous “bucket list”. Once all the qualifying questions are asked and the data is tallied, then comes “this is too expensive!”
So what does it really cost to go on a vacation?????
You can find several articles all over the web and in print covering this subject. It basically breaks down that the average American spends about $1200 per person for a standard 5-7 day vacation give or take. Honestly. It really depends on where and when you travel, how many people are in your travel group and your expectations.
Travelers love to say they want the cheapest option but they want that option to be a 5 star rated vacation. As I like to say you can’t have Champaign taste on a welfare budget! It is very true that you get what you pay for. When devising a budget for a vacation, you first have to ask yourself, “What kind of vacation do I want?” Then make sure your budget matches the vacation you can afford to have. There is no need to go into debt just to get away. With all the stressors in our lives today, we don’t want to add to it. And don’t assume that traveling on a budget takes away from a fantastic enjoyable vacation. Through the 19 years that I was a single parent, I found ways to make trips with my children that fit into my budget. No my lights didn’t get cut off or bills didn’t get paid. For me, travel was key to keeping my sanity. While I didn’t do it every year, I was still able to get away as far as Disney World in Florida on the tightest budget and still enjoy myself.
So how do you really get started?
Make a list. Actually make a couple of lists. The first one should be of all the places you want to visit. The next list should be of dates you can actually take a vacation. This one might be tricky if you have kids or others in your travel party. One thing that drives travel agent nuts is a client who says “I just want to go sometime this year or sometime this summer …” We as agents are here to help you but we can’t make dates up. When searching for your ideal vacation, a parameter has to be set which includes location and exact dates. There are way too many factors to determine when it is the best time to travel. The more information you provide the easier it is for travel agents to pinpoint your best options. Honestly you know what you and your traveling party can do. Everyone has their own idea of what a great vacation is and those ideas are uniquely different.
Next think of what you want to do while there and any experiences or restaurants you must try while visiting. If traveling in a group, make sure everyone is included on the process. We tend to think we all have the same ideas but you’ll find that you may not. Once you’ve got an idea of where and when you want to go, break down each component to determine how much you want to spend.
A vacation consists of the following components:
Transportation includes airfare, car rentals, transfers and local transportation. If you need all of those, that can be a hefty tag. Decide on what forms of transportation you’re going to need for your vacation. Be sure not to forget about transfers to and from the airport or train station connecting to your accommodations. I always check the accommodations I reserve for my clients to see if they offer any type of transportation especially if it’s free. Don’t ever assume anything! You don’t want to be caught stuck at any location with only high priced options available.
Expect to spend anywhere from $250-350 for a plane ticket per each person ages two and above. Understand this is just for budgeting purposes. There are fares that drop or above these amounts depending on location traveling to. We are trying to achieve a starting point and stretch it to what you’re willing to pay.
Car Rentals on the lowest end start at about $250 for about 5 days which equates to roughly $50 a day. If you are not a small car driver than think about adding $100+ to each level of upgrade you want to go. Again remember this is only a starting point and not true figures.
Local transportation can be pretty inexpensive in most cases. I would just round up on your final overall budget to catch this into your pricing.
Accommodations include resorts, hotels, bed and breakfast etc. Decide on what type of accommodations you prefer. Cheap does not always equal safe and clean. Think more of the star rating system than the price system. The lower the star the worst the hotel will be and the lower the price will be. If you want quality, you will have to pay for it. Finding that happy medium comes with what you’re willing to pay. This is where you really need to be specific in your needs. There a hundreds of thousands of hotel and resort options all over the world. Stating what is most important to you helps narrow that search down. Each of your must haves more than likely will affect the price. I would say for nice a 3-4 star location with most of the general amenities plan to spend at least $120-180 per a night. Yes yes there are cheaper options but remember we are estimating a reasonable amount to spend on a nice and pleasant vacation.
Things to think about when choosing a resort or hotel
Number of beds in a room
Separate rooms or privacy (a door or wall separating beds)
Close access to elevators, pools or parking lot
Free parking or transportation
Activities can be just about anything. Wonderful thing about activities is that they can be FREE! This is where that list comes in handy. One thing I like to do for my clients is try to find as many of the entertainment activities they want to experience at the most reasonable price. There is almost always more than one option available which means different pricing. Of course location is a big factor on what is available to do. It’s always a good idea to write down you're must do options first. We all want to maximize our limited time away. I would say that this category can be anywhere from $100 – 800 per person. Large amusement park tickets are going to cost well over $200 per person for a week’s time.
Food is an area you can adjust easily. If you have some unique experiences on your list, plan accordingly. Most vacations can include grocery shopping at reasonable prices. If you want that laid back option, all-inclusive options can be utilized even domestically. I would say you can plan for about $50-100 a day give or take.
Given the figures about, a family of four can expect to spend about $4800-5000 for a week of vacation. Also don’t forget about other expenses that may incur like passport fees, taxes and misc. fees incurred by airlines and resorts. The main thing to think about is that when you put your budget together, the goal is to come under the amount you are willing to spend. You want to be realistic and really put some thought into what you want to spend. You can even go over your last vacation and try to piece together what you spent. What you may find is that you spent well over your current estimation. There are definitely ways to cut cost. Be open and prepared for the available options and you will be able to find the experience that fits your needs.
Traveling can be very rewarding. It creates life lasting memories. Be smart about getting there so you can fully enjoy the journey. Come out to Just Ask Kiky's Sip, Shop & Travel event August 4th to learn more about how you can afford to travel and much more! Visit wwww.justaskkiky.com for details.
Be sure to order your copy of Just Ask Kiky: A Single Parents Guide to Being Broke and Having a Social Life to learn more about saving options to help with planning your next trip. Visit www.justaskkiky.com to purchase!
If you would like Just Ask Kiky to assist you with your next vacation, please contact me at
Just Ask Kiky Owner, Author, Travel Agent
A Colesville Travel Agent
P.O. Box 681316
Indianapolis, IN 46268