NEW YORK — When it comes to planning your next vacation, don’t be surprised if your credit card bill is much higher than you were budgeting for. The average American goes almost 21 percent over budget on weekend getaways, according to new research.
A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. respondents found that after putting travel plans on hold for a year or more, two-thirds of Americans planned on taking at least one or more weekend getaway trips this fall. And while they’ll typically budget $1,800 for a weekend trip, they usually end up spending $380 more.
Forty-two percent planned to visit family and 33 percent visited friends, suggesting personal obligations may have been one of the biggest factors affecting travelers’ vacation plans. Wedding bells are ringing, too – among respondents who planned to attend at least one wedding, the average person expected to receive an invite to two or three weddings this year.
Many also planned to make time for themselves, with more than a quarter saying they often book extra days when going on a special trip. In fact, over two-thirds of Americans already have a weekend getaway or adventure in mind for their next vacation. Sightseeing (38%) and restaurants (36%) are popular “must-do” activities for such a trip. Outdoor activities like camping (31%) and visiting National Parks (30%) are also top of mind among Americans, more so than attending concerts (27%) or taking a spa day (16%).
More than two-thirds tend to be spontaneous and just explore or shop at places within a short drive of where they’re staying. Some will make an exception to spend lavishly on experiences like food (44%), lodging (32%), and entertainment (24%) that they otherwise wouldn’t.
The best laid plans
The biggest splurges can often be unexpected ones. One respondent admits they once “ended up extending [their] stay a few days because [they] didn’t want to leave” and another adds they “spent the night in Niagara Falls when we were supposed to just drive through and treated ourselves to a special dinner.”
Others recalled spending extra on last-minute excursions spanning city cruises to zip lining, helicopter tours and even “a fancy train ride at the Grand Canyon.” In fact, nearly three in five people say they’re likely to spontaneously stop and spend on a last-minute excursion once they reach their weekend getaway destination.
“Traveling inspires us to explore beyond the sights we originally planned to see,” says Jessica Worthy, vice president of product at Credit One Bank, in a statement. “While this often results in priceless memories, it can also stretch the budget in ways that may not have been planned for beforehand. The right credit card can help offset these costs by giving you rewards for spending on things you are already doing.”
Forty-six percent say their credit card is their preferred form of payment while traveling. When it comes to weekend trips, 63 percent have a strict budget. However, the same number of people admit they forget about unforeseen costs, such as parking or impulse buys.
“Regardless of their plans, it’s great to see people easing back into travel with short yet eventful trips,” Worthy adds. “With three-fifths planning to take a road trip for pleasure this year, and two in five Americans planning to visit a National Park in the next year, it’s important to have tools that can help put some extra money toward new experiences.”