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Real Cost of Your Family Vacation

Two-thirds of American families took a vacation in the summer of 2013. How much do these vacations cost?
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Two-thirds of American families planned a vacation in the summer of 2013. So how much does a family vacation cost and how much of your vacation savings goes to the government through taxes. Let’s pack our bags and do the math.

According to the federal government, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee are the most popular national park in the country… so let’s go there. The average family vacation includes 3.2 people but we’ll pick a family of four since vacationing with one-fifth of a person would be awkward.

Half of American families vacation by car. They don’t fly because that’s a real budget buster. The average car in the American garage is 11 years old and cars that old get 22.2 miles per gallon. The average family drives 628 miles round-trip for vacation. So that’s 32 gallons of gas at an average price of $3.61 each gallon. That adds up to $115 for gas.

So how much of the price of gasoline goes to taxes? It’s 45% or in this case $51. If our family stays at an average hotel in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, they’ll pay $73 a night and with 4 people they’ll need two rooms. Staying 7 nights with 2 hotel rooms at $73 nightly: that’s $1,220 for lodging. We know more than 39% of a hotel charge is tax. That’s another $400 to the government.

Eating out on vacation might cost our frugal family $60 a day or $420 for the week. But, 31% of a restaurant bill is taxes. So that’s $130 in taxes.

When add all this up, this family’s trip to the mountains cost $1,557 and $581 of it went to taxes. That’s 37% of their vacation money… if they didn’t buy any souvenirs or tacky t-shirts.

It gets worse if you fly. In 2012, travelers paid an average $378.62 for tickets. With 4 flyers, that’s $1,500. 44% of your airfare is taxes. So $663 of that goes to the government.

Now you’ll need a rental car and that costs $140 a week. Since 39% of a car rental cost is taxes, that’s $52 to the taxman and another $39 for gas taxes.

That’s $3,183 our flying family paid out for a vacation and 40% of their budget, $1,284, went to taxes.

So the next time you go on vacation, think about what you could do with $600 or even $1,200 more of your money in your pocket.