Americans are spending more on vacation this summer — but there’s a catch

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

Americans plan on spending a significant amount of money on vacation this summer.

That is, those who are going on vacation: An increasing amount of Americans don’t plan on taking a proper break at all.

According to Allianz Global Assistance’s 11th annual Vacation Confidence Index — which surveyed 1,005 people aged 18 and above — Americans on holiday this summer are expected to spend an average of $2,037.

That’s a 5.2% increase from last year — and the highest-ever number since the survey began in 2010.

Back then, with the economy in the depths of the Great Recession, the average amount spent by an American on vacation was $1,653.

Average and projected total spend both have had a wobbly ascent since then, and Allianz estimates that total spend this year is now likely to cross the $100 billion mark.

People visit the beach during Memorial Day weekend on May 26, 2019 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. (Photo credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Fewer Americans going on summer break

At the same time, an increasing number of Americans also indicated that they’re not going on vacation this summer as compared to previous years.

According to the survey, only 42% said they were confident that they’d be taking a summer vacation, which is close to the lowest point in 2013.

Main reasons for putting it off included financial concerns at 52% and time constraints at 38%.

The reluctance to go on vacation for many could also stem from a lack of paid vacation days: A separate study found that despite being one of the richest countries in the world, the U.S. lags behind in terms of guaranteeing its workers paid vacation.

So while European workers are getting a minimum of 14 paid holidays with those in countries like Germany, Portugal and Spain getting even more, Americans are stuck with around 10 paid vacation days and six holidays.

Surfing Santa catches a wave as his wife watches, at Seal Beach, south of Los Angeles in 2012 in California. (Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Travel expenses burn the biggest hole

The biggest expense for vacationers usually is transportation, especially if the destination is overseas, according to personal finance site ValuePenguin.

For a trip within the U.S., people spend an average of $581 and spend about four nights away according to the site.

On international trips, people spend 12 to 13 nights abroad and spend around $3,250.

The second-biggest expense for a domestic destination is food and alcohol, followed by lodging. For international vacations, that order is flipped.

With costs this high, some cash-strapped Americans have turned to borrowing to fund these vacations.

A 2017 survey by LendVest found that Americans were willing to borrow up to $1,108 in debt for a vacation. Millennials were the age group that was most willing to go into debt for vacation, followed by Gen X and baby boomers.

At the same time, more crowdfunding sites have popped up like Honeyfund and FundMyTravel, where donors can pitch in to help people fund dream destinations.

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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