Vacation Spending Across Countries

I received a very interesting press release last week and wanted to share it with you. Expedia released a study that analyzed vacation spending habits among residents in Asia, North America, South America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand.  Here is the release: 

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Today,®, one of the world’s largest full service online travel sites*, revealed the results of a study that showed marked contrasts in the way that residents of different countries save for vacation and also how they spend while on vacation. Expedia’s 2014 Vacation Spending Index was conducted on behalf of Expedia by Northstar, a globally integrated strategic insights consulting firm, and surveyed 11,165 people in 24 countries across five continents.

The study asked respondents a series of straightforward travel-spending questions. They include: How far in advance do you begin saving for a vacation? Which travel fees anger you the most? What do you see as the most cost-efficient/luxurious type of vacation? How likely are you to tip the different service providers you encounter on a holiday? Where do you expect to spend the most, and where do you hope to save the most? The answers revealed a disparity in vacation spending habits across continents.

“With the Vacation Spending Index, Expedia sought to take a look at how cultural forces impact how consumers save and spend money in regards to travel,” said John Morrey, Vice President and General Manager of “These insights make us a more intelligent global travel company, in terms of how we present different options to different audiences, ultimately allowing us to serve our customers better.”

A full analysis of Expedia’s 2014 Vacation Spending Index can be found at

The study found that:
Most vacationers expect to tip the service providers they meet on vacation, though 23% of global travelers indicated that they do not tip at all. The most likely tippers were from Mexico (96% tip service providers on holiday), followed by Austrians (92%) Germans (91%), Canadians, Thai and Indians (all 90%). 86% of Americans tip on holiday. New Zealanders were stingiest; only 42% of New Zealand travelers tip service providers on vacation. Only 50% of Australians do as well.

Below follows a list of service providers, as well as the percentage of global travelers saying they typically tip these individuals while on vacation.

  • Food servers (50%)
  • Hotel maid service (37%)
  • Hotel bellhop (37%)
  • Room service delivery (35%)
  • Driver/tour guide (30%)
  • Hotel concierge (17%)
  • Airline porter (10%)
  • No one, I don’t tip (23%)

Globally, 71% of travelers save for vacation in the year prior to their vacation. A full 31% begin saving at least a full year out, while 29% do not save at all. Mexican and Indian travelers are the most prudent, with 89% of Mexicans and 85% of Indians reporting that they save for holidays in advance. Only 53% of the Japanese and 55% of the Dutch do the same. 53% of Thai travelers, 41% of Indians and 38% of the French maintain a dedicated vacation fund.

This is pragmatic behavior for the French, as the 2013 Expedia Vacation Deprivation Study revealed that the French lead the world in vacationing, taking all 30 of the non-holiday vacation days available to them each year. In contrast, South Koreans usually only take 7 of 10 possible days off.

For global travelers, the most aggravating travel fees, in order, are “taxes,” “baggage fees” and “booking fees.” The list features:

  • Taxes: 41% put in top 5
  • Baggage fees: 36%
  • Booking fees: 34%
  • Seat selection fares: 27%
  • Resort/hotel fees: 25%
  • Tipping: 25%
  • In-room WiFi: 23%
  • Buying mobile phone package for out-of-network travel: 18%
  • Travel/trip protection insurance: 15%
  • Out-of-country medical insurance: 14%
  • Rental car insurance: 11%
  • Other: 5%
  • None: 13%

Location, location, location: When travelers look to splurge on vacation, they see “hotel in a desired location” as the optimal expense. Only 7% of travelers were willing to splurge on a first class or business class flight. The list of most splurge-worthy expenses includes:

  • Hotel in a desired location: 39%
  • Direct flight vs. connecting: 34%
  • Room with a view: 29%
  • Hotel with pool: 28%
  • Hotel with exceptional service: 18%
  • Hotel with room service/restaurant on premise: 17%
  • Hotel with spa: 16%

Additional Findings

New clothes are the most common purchase when travelers are getting “vacation-ready.” The most common pre-trip expenses include:

  • New clothes: 43%
  • Haircut/style: 32%
  • Phone package: 16%
  • Waxing/hair removal: 14%
  • Manicure/pedicure: 13%
  • Dieting/weight management products/services: 10%

Worldwide, the expected cost of a week-long vacation in their home country is $730 USD per person. Norwegians expect to spend the most, estimating that they will spend 7516.06 Norwegian krone ($1,256 USD) for transportation, accommodations, food/beverage and activities across a week of vacation in Norway. After the Norwegians, residents of Japan, Canada and Australia all expect to spend the most in their home country relative to the 24 countries studied. The Thai anticipate the lowest cost, reporting that a week of vacation in Thailand should cost them only $356 USD.

When traveling outside their home continent, spending expectations are highest among the Japanese ($2,777 USD per person), Mexicans ($2,554 USD), New Zealanders ($2,219 USD) and Brazilians ($2,212 USD) and The French were the most optimistic of the countries surveyed, expecting to spend only $1,361 USD when traveling abroad.

Beach vacations are perceived as the most cost-efficient vacation possibility, with 40% citing it as most efficient. 23% saw “historic/cultural sight-seeing” as the most cost- effective form of travel, followed by “cruising” (12%) and theme park vacations (7%).

Cruising (39%) is also perceived to be the most luxurious type of vacation. Cruising is followed by health spa/spiritual retreats (13%) and casino vacations (11%) on the list of luxurious holiday options.

57% of travelers believe it is “critically” or “very” important to buy medical insurance when traveling abroad. 6% believe it is “not at all important.”

Roughly the same percentage of travelers find travel insurance to be “critically” or “very” important (55%). 6% report that they find it “not at all important.”

87% of global travelers say they actively look for deals when booking a vacation. 13% do not. Flights are the most actively sought deals, at 49%, followed by:

  • Special promotions/seasonal sales: 46%
  • Package deals (booking a flight and hotel simultaneously): 43%
  • All-inclusive hotels with meal plans: 37%
  • Hotels with meals included: 33%
  • Flash sales/last minute deals: 27%

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