How Much Do Average Americans Spend On Vacation Compared To Millionaires?

In the summer, social media is full of friends bragging about their awesome vacations and it starts seeming like everyone goes on more vacations than you do. But is that really true?

How many vacation days are Americans actually using each year, how much are they spending on vacation, and where are they traveling?

This infographic answers those questions and gives you some ideas on how to save money for your next vacation so you can be the one bragging on social media (or not).

How Much Do Average Americans Spend On Vacation Compared To Millionaires

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Many American’s Are Giving Up Vacation

  • 34% of survey respondents reported they were not confident they would take a vacation at all in 2016.
  • Even 22% of survey respondents who said vacation was very important to them reported that they were not confident they would take a vacation in 2016.
  • Workers took an average of 16.8 vacation days in 2016 (up from 16.2 in 2015 but significantly down from the 1976-2000 average of 20.3 days)
  • In 2016, 56% of Americans ended the year with unused vacation days leaving 663 million unused days
  • An estimated 222 million vacation days were forfeited entirely adding up to $66.4 Billion in forfeited benefits (the equivalent of each worker donating $604 worth of work time to their employer).
  • Employees that forfeited vacation days were found to be less likely to have received a recent raise, bonus or promotion.

Spending is Up

  • Americans reporting they would take a vacation in 2016 said they would spend between $1,798-2,041 per vacation (up 11% from 2015).
  • 44% of those costs will go to vacation transportation
  • Only 42% of domestic travelers and 60% of those that leave the country pay for accommodations opting to save money by staying with family and friends
  • Of those purchasing accommodations, only 4% will use AirBNB (this percentage rises to 8% among 25-34-year-olds) choosing to remain with traditional hotels.

Top Destinations

According to AAA vacation bookings, the top international destinations for Americans are:

  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  • Rome, Italy
  • Montego Bay
  • Jamaica
  • London
  • Nassau, Bahamas

The most popular domestic vacation destinations are:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Anaheim, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Las Vegas, Nevada

Vacation spots with the biggest increase in 2017 among American travelers:

  • Melbourne and Sydney, Australia
  • Toronto and Vancouver, Canada
  • Cancun, Mexico

29% of Americans (and 43% of Millennials) said their dream vacation is Space.

Vacations of the Wealthy

The patterns of Americans with over $1,000,000 in investments is different than the average American.

  • 63% of affluent Americans report going on over 3 vacations a year with the average being 6 vacations per year.
  • These Americans spend an average of $13,249 on leisure travel per year and an average of $2,902 per trip.

Even the Wealthy Save Money

  • 77% of affluent Americans choose to fly economy instead of business or first class.
  • 72-76% travel off-season preferring to travel in the Spring or Fall. Only 17% report traveling during the holidays.
  • 69% prefer staying in a 4-star hotel to a 5-star hotel.

How to Save Money on Vacations

  • Start by Saving – 74% of Americans report going into debt for vacations by an average of $1,100. Don’t be one of them. Set aside $100 a month just for vacations. That will allow you spend $1,200 per year on vacations without having to worry about where to find the money.
  • Plan Ahead or Go Last Minute – Booking travel months in advance can save you lots of money, just be sure to check the cancellation or change policies before you book. If you can’t plan ahead, check out last minute deals. Many travel websites offer great deals on last-minute getaways.
  • Be Flexible – Traveling during peak times costs significantly more. If you can plan off-peak travel, you’ll pay less and avoid the crowds. Airlines prices can fluctuate significantly by day. If you’re able to change your vacation by even a few days, you can also save money by flying on the cheaper days.
  • Watch Your Food Spending – On vacation it’s really easy to eat out for every meal and pay lots for alcohol. Choosing street vendors instead of restaurants and shopping at local markets or grocery stores for basics will save you money.
  • Determine Your Must-Dos First – When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to want to do everything. Before you go, decide what’s non-negotiable. When you prioritize your vacation list you can focus your spending toward what is important to you will have an easier time passing on the things that are not on your list.
  • Use Credit Card Sign-up BonusesTravel credit cards often give you enough points for a round-trip plane ticket just for signing up and spending a certain amount in the first few months. Figure out which one would be the best for where you’re trying to go and sign up! Remember to always pay your credit card in full each month.

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