How Many Vacations Does the Average Family Take?

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My family and I love to go on vacation, but we really only take 1 big vacation a year. So I wondered how many vacations does the average family take?

Here’s what I found out in doing a little digging.

40% of Americans, which is almost 100 million people, will take at least 1 vacation each year. Of those 100 million people, 28% will take 3 or more vacations per year. But Americans in the southern states are almost twice as likely to vacation as people in the northern states.

But there’s more to say about family vacations, how often people take them, and even what the average amount of paid time off from work is.

So let’s keep going!

Check out my best travel resources and recommendations (click to read) that will save you time and money on your next vacation!

What percent of families go on vacation?

How many weeks of vacation does the average American get?

10 days a year is the average amount of paid time off most Americans get each year. Sadly though, not everyone gets paid time off for family vacations.

According to a recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, “the United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacations.”

Specifically, they found that:

  • 23% of Americans get no paid time off or paid holidays
  • Most Americans get 10 paid days off each year
  • In the EU, employees are guaranteed at least 20 paid days off each year, and some offer up to 30
  • For hourly workers, the bottom 25% only get 4 paid days off each year
  • By contrast, the top 25% of hourly workers get 14 paid days off each year

Of course, whether an employee is part-time or full-time will have a big impact on paid days off, as well as whether the employee is paid hourly or on salary.

How long an employee has worked for a company also matters.

I worked for Whole Foods Market for 20+ years. At the time when I left the company in 2013, I was being given (but not taking) upwards of 6 weeks of paid time off each year.

But even for new full-time employees, at the time they got about 2 weeks of paid time off each year and what you didn’t use rolled over or could be cashed out.

Want a family vacation, but think you can’t afford it?

Think again! A great family vacation doesn’t have to break the bank, drive you into debt, or rob you of your savings. It just takes a little planning and picking the right destinations. So if think you can’t afford to take a family vacation, you’ll definitely want to check out my list of Affordable Family Vacation Destinations (click to read).

How many vacation weeks do you get after 10 years?

Of course, there are so many variables here, that it’s impossible to give one answer.

But, on average, most employees who have been with a company in the US between 10-20 years, get 15-19 paid days off for family vacations.

13% of those get 24 or more paid days off. As I mentioned above, at least when I worked for Whole Foods Market, they paid way more than that in PTO.

It’s also worth noting that in the United States, companies are not required to provide paid time off. And while some employers provide PTO for any purpose, others break it down by type: sick days, vacation days, holidays, etc.

How many vacation days you might get after 10 years will be based on the following:

  • Are you part-time or full-time? (benefits are typically much better for full-time employees)
  • How long have you worked for your company? (many companies pay more PTO the longer you have worked for them)
  • Does your company provide paid time off? (they aren’t required t0)
  • What are the other benefits your company provides? (the total cost of employee benefits has limits, so if they pay a huge portion of your healthcare costs, they probably pay less in other areas)
  • How many employees does your company have? (usually more employees equals better benefits)

While US employers are not required to provide paid time off, a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 76% of employers DO provide at least some paid time off.

Average paid time off based on years worked:

Employed between 1-5 years

  • 0-5 paid days off (7%)
  • 5-9 paid days off (38%)
  • 10-14 paid days off (35%)
  • 15-19 paid days off (12%)
  • 20-24 paid days off (7%)
  • 24+ paid days off (2%)

Employed between 5-10 years

  • 0-5 paid days off (2%)
  • 5-9 paid days off (9%)
  • 10-14 paid days off (36%)
  • 15-19 paid days off (34%)
  • 20-24 paid days off (12%)
  • 24+ paid days off (6%)

Employed between 10-20 years

  • 0-5 paid days off (2%)
  • 5-9 paid days off (7%)
  • 10-14 paid days off (16%)
  • 15-19 paid days off (41%)
  • 20-24 paid days off (22%)
  • 24+ paid days off (13%)

Employed 20 or more years

  • 0-5 paid days off (2%)
  • 5-9 paid days off (6%)
  • 10-14 paid days off (13%)
  • 15-19 paid days off (20%)
  • 20-24 paid days off (35%)
  • 24+ paid days off (25%)

What age groups travel the most?

With almost 100 million people taking family vacations each year, it’s worth noting that millennials (born between 1980-1995) travel more than any other age group, according to a recent study by travel experts Expedia.

In fact, millennials take, on average, 35 days off each year for relaxation, visiting family, and the traditional family vacation.

That’s compared to the following by age group:

  • Generation Z (born between 1995-2005) – 29 travel days per year
  • Generation X (born between 1965-1980) – 26 travel days per year
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 to 1964) – 27 travel days per year

Now that covered how many vacation days does the average family take.

But in terms of how many people, we’ll look at that recent AAA survey I referenced at the top which showed that 44% of millennials are planning to take at least 1 family vacation this year.

That too beats out Generation X (39%) and Baby Boomers (32%).

AAA Senior Vice President Bill Sutherland goes on to states “No matter their age, families are going on not just one, but multiple vacations throughout the year to revisit favorite destinations and experience new places.”

Want to take a summer vacation this year with your family but think everything is booked or will be too crowded?

Think again! I’ve compiled a handy list of some amazing Family Vacation Destinations that many people overlook (click to read). It’s not too late to plan a great vacation this year for your family, so check out some of those destinations and see if one of them isn’t perfect for your family!

How many US citizens travel abroad each year?

facing-your-fears-costa-rica-zip-line-middle-class-dad

Going back to AAA again, they found that of the 100 million US family travelers that take at least 1 vacation each year, 35% of them will visit an international destination this year.

That amounts to about 35 million people from the US, on average, taking at least 1 family vacation to someplace outside the United States.

For 2019, the top international destinations for the average family vacation are:

  1. Cancun, Mexico
  2. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  3. Montego Bay, Jamaica
  4. Rome, Italy
  5. Dublin, Ireland

Personally, I don’t think I would do a family vacation to Cancun.

For Mexico, I much prefer Puerta Vallarta. For another, I didn’t care much for Cancun. It was like Vegas on the ocean and then the local area of town was far removed from the main party strip, but the local parts I saw didn’t have the quaint feel of old town Puerta Vallarta.

The best part of Cancun for me was renting a car and driving to Chichén Itzá to climb the pyramid (which I don’t think they let you do anymore).

Rome, however, would make a great vacation destination for a family to take and I haven’t been to the others on that list.

My favorite family vacation destination, by far, is Costa Rica. I had been when I was single and childless, but once I was married and became a Dad, we took my oldest daughter Astrid there around her 1st birthday and we keep going back.

If Costa Rica has always sounded intriguing to you for a family vacation, check out my Ultimate Travel Guide to Guanacaste Costa Rica (click to read).

Guanacaste is our favorite province to visit (provinces are like states), but I don’t think you could go wrong traveling anywhere in Costa Rica.

How much does the average family spend on vacations per year?

So we know how many vacations the average family takes, and which age groups travel more, but how much is that costing them?

On average, a family of 4 in the US will spend $4,580 total for one family vacation according to a recent travel survey by American Express. That breaks down to $1,145 per person.

At the top, I mentioned that 53% of family vacationers will be traveling by car instead of a plane, so that’s definitely one way to keep costs down. Even with gas and if you rent an SUV, you’ll still likely pay far less than you would to fly; you just have to have the time off to be able to drive to your destination.

That being said, a different survey by Harris Poll & NerdWallet found that parents plan to spend only $2,523 on their family vacation. They also looked at debt and sadly found that 80% of Americans plan to charge at least $1,467 towards their family vacation this year.

Here are some handy breakdowns by expense category so you know where your hard-earned dollars are going:

  • FOOD COSTS – $132/day (family of 4 eating out all meals)
  • HOTEL – $116/night (average in the US for a family of 4 according to hotels.com)
  • FLIGHTS – $224/each (domestic flights in the US, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey )
  • TAXES & FEES – Vary, but for many family vacation destinations, this can be hundreds of dollars

Of course, where you go has a big impact on those numbers as Chicago, New York, and Minneapolis have the highest taxes and fees for vacation travelers.

Flying to Hawaii?

Aside from the brutal 10 hours it will take to get there from many airports, you’re also looking at upwards of $1,000/flight (one of the many reasons I vastly prefer Costa Rica for a tropical vacation, which is a 3-hour flight and at least half the price).

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Did I answer all your questions about how many vacations does the average family take?

In this article, we took a detailed look at the world of family vacations.

We explored how often people take them, which age groups travel more, what percentage goes to international locations, and what the average amount of paid time off at work employees get to take those family vacations.

Specifically, though, we answered the question of how many vacations does the average family take, which is 1 big trip a year for most families, with 28% of those vacationers taking 3 or more.

Where is your favorite family vacation spot?

Check out my best travel resources and recommendations (click to read) that will save you time and money on your next vacation!

steps to plan a vacation Jeff Campbell Middle Class Dad bio


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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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