Travel Expense Statistics: 19 Facts, Trends To Consider (Explained)


Are you looking for the travel expense statistics, facts and trends?

Well, in the United States alone, $3.1 billion a day is spent by resident and international travelers. To break that number down more, $128.6 billion are spent an hour, $2.1 million are spent a minute, and $35,700 are spent a second.   

What are the travel expense statistics to consider? In the list below you can find the key travel expense statistics, facts, and trends:

  • Travel and tourism generate about $2.6 trillion in economic output.
  • $1.1 trillion goes into traveler spending.
  • Travel and tourism create about 15.8 million US jobs.
  • $278.9 billion is spent on food services alone.
  • If there was no travel and tax revenue, every US family would need to pay an additional $1,398 in taxes.

Because of this fact, it is no shock that traveling costs quite a bit of money. If you have gone on a vacation yourself, you know this to be true from personal experience.

Many statistics and travel industries look at expense statistics in order to learn what travelers spend their money on specifically.

To learn about travel expense statistics and more, keep reading. This article tells you all the facts you need to know about traveling expenses today. Let’s get started.

Travel Economy Overview

Before we get into specifics of travel expenses, let’s look at the travel economy as a whole. In 2019, a total of $1.1 trillion was put into traveler spending.

πŸ‘‰ More so, travel and tourism generated about $2.6 trillion in economic output, as well as supported 15.8 million jobs in America alone. That number is obviously larger on the global scale.


πŸ‘‰ In case you cannot grasp this high amount, let’s give a hypothetical scenario. If there is no tax revenue created by tourism and travel, every American household would have to pay an additional $1,398 in taxes in order to make up the difference. That is quite a lot of money.

πŸ‘‰ The vast majority of sources spent during travel went towards food services. It is estimated that about $267.7 billion went to food services specifically.

After that, lodging came in second, generating a total of $232.2 billion. Public transportation, auto transportation, recreation, and retail followed up for third through sixth place.

Expenditure SourcesPercentage (%)
Food services$267.7 billion
Lodging$232.2 billion
Public Transport$200.4 billion
Auto Transportation$166.5 billion
Recreation$112.6 billion
Retail$109.6 billion

Read also: Family Travel Statistics: 19 Facts Trend To Consider (Explained)

Travel Expense Statistics By Traveling Purpose

  • Domestic and international travelers spent $792.4 billion on leisure travel.
  • 80% of domestic trips taken within the US are for leisure purposes.
  • Domestic and international travelers spent $334.2 billion on business travel.

Today, there are typically two reasons why a person would travel, either for leisure purposes or business purposes.

Leisure purposes include visiting friends, families, going on vacation, ETC. Business travel, on the other hand, includes traveling overnight in paid accommodations for work purposes.

Leisure Travel

  • 80% of domestic trips taken within the US are for leisure purposes.
  • Domestic and international leisure travelers spent $792.4 billion.
  • Leisure travel creates around $124.6 billion in tax revenue.
  • Americans spent a total of $101.1 billion on summer vacations alone.
  • 36% of Americans spend their disposable income on traveling.
  • Americans spend $6,080 on international trips on average.

πŸ‘‰ In 2019, both domestic and international leisure travelers spent $792.4 billion. This created around $124.6 billion in tax revenue.

πŸ‘‰ In comparison to business travel, the vast majority of travelers classify themselves as leisure travelers. In fact, 80% of domestic trips taken within the US are for leisure purposes, not business purposes.

πŸ‘‰ Summer vacations are one of the most popular types of leisure travel. As of 2017, Americans spent a total of $101.1 billion on summer vacations alone.

In fact, travel is considered Americans’ most popular choice for spending their disposable cash. 36% of people prefer traveling, which is just behind the number one choice, nightlife and dining.

πŸ‘‰ Those numbers were for domestic travel alone. The average cost for an American taking an international trip is about $6,080.

πŸ‘‰ This means that Americans as a whole spend more money on international trips than other nationalities who visit America. More specifically, Americans spend $1,880 more on international trips.

Read also: Youth Travel Statistics: 17 Facts Trends To Consider (Explained)

Business Travel

In comparison to leisure travel, way fewer people travel for business.

πŸ‘‰ In 2019, $334.2 billion were directly spent by domestic and international travels. Meetings, invents and incentive programs accounted for $139.3 billion of the total.

International Expense Statistics

  • US exports generate $255 billion.
  • US imports cost $196.
  • There is a travel trade surplus worth $59 billion.
  • 1.2 million jobs are created from international travel.
  • International travel supports $33.6 billion.
  • Americans spend $6,080 on international trips on average.
  • International visitors traveling to America spend $4,200 on average.
  • Americans spend around $1,880 more on international trips than other nationalities.

πŸ‘‰ International travel generates a lot of money for the US and other countries as well. In 2019, US exports cost $255 billion.

πŸ‘‰ This creates a $59 billion travel trade surplus since imports totaled around $196 billion. Based on 2019 numbers, which was a year when international travel was down for the US. Other years have a greater surplus.

πŸ‘‰ Because of international travel, this spending supported 1.2 million jobs in America. This creates $33.6 billion in wages.

πŸ‘‰ This is largely because international travelers spend on average $4200 per trip, which lasts an average of 18 days.

πŸ‘‰ As for international travelers who visit America, New York is the number one destination. It rakes in $16.1 billion each year from international visitors alone.

Interestingly, it is Canadian tourists that tend to spend the most on international travel in America. They spend about Β£2.2 billion.

Travel Expenses Breakdown

ExpenseAverage Domestic TripAverage International Trip

Now that we have looked at how much the travel industry makes as a whole, as well as how much it makes based on individual travels, let’s look at travel expenses in more detail.

This includes looking at the cost of a vacation, travel transportation, travel lodging, and food and entertainment.

Read also: Solo Travel Statistics: 13 Facts Trends To Consider (Explained)


Vacations as a whole are expensive. The average domestic trip last four nights, and it is notably less expensive than the average international trip, which lasts 12 nights.

πŸ‘‰ In total, a domestic trip averages about $581 in total per person. In contrast, an international trip averages $3,251 per person.


Transportation TypeAverage Cost For Vacationing Households
Trains between cities$521
Buses between cities$252
Local transportation$202

For both domestic and international travels, transportation takes up most of the budget. The average domestic trip will spend $224 on transportation. International trips cost a whopping $1,755.

For international trips especially, transportation costs easily $1,000 more than any of the other categories.

As would be expected, airfare is the most expensive of all the transportation types. This is why international transportation is so expensive.

It almost always requires some form of airfare. After that, driving to another location is the second most expensive transportation type.


  • 42% of travelers pay for lodges.
  • Lodging costs travelers $2,158 a year.
  • The average US hotel room is $141 per night.

After transportation, lodging is the second most expensive part of a traveler’s budget. Because lodging can ensure one’s safety, most people are willing to splurge more on their lodging than other parts of their travel.

πŸ‘‰ Nevertheless, only 42% of travelers actually pay for lodges. Instead, the majority of American travelers stay with friends and family when traveling domestically.

πŸ‘‰ For those who spend money on lodging, they spent a total of $2,158 on average per year. For every individual trip, lodging typically only takes up one-fifth to one-fourth of the budget.

Interestingly, lodging tends to be more expensive for domestic trips than international trips.

πŸ‘‰ To book a hotel room in the US, the average price is $141 per night. It is generally cheaper to rent out a room inside someone’s home through a service like Airbnb.

There are also credit card rewards programs that can make lodging in America cheaper.

US families specifically look for ways to save money on lodging. As a result, most traveling families spend an average of $87 per night for domestic trips.

This is because they tend to travel and lodge in RVs, rental homes, or campsites.

Food and Entertainment

Average Domestic TripAverage International Trip
Food prepared at restaurants$108$378
Food prepared by vacationer$24$42

πŸ‘‰ Food also makes up a whopping percent of most travelers’ budgets. On average, Americans spent $33 a day on their food when vacationing.

πŸ‘‰ About 80% of that amount is spent in restaurants, not grocery stores. More specifically, they $27 spent at restaurants a day, whereas the average US traveler only spends $6 a day on the food they prepare.

πŸ‘‰ International travel costs more for food on average. Most international travelers spend about $35 a day on food, and nearly 90% of that amount goes towards restaurant meals.

That is likely because most international travelers want to experience different foods.

Alcohol is largely grouped into traveling food budgets. Many people look to vacations to kick back and relax with a nice drink.

πŸ‘‰ About 12% of Americans purchase alcohol while on trips. Although this percentage is low, the average person who indulges in alcoholic beverages while traveling spends about $380 on alcohol alone.


Entertainment TypeAverage Cost For Vacationing Households
Participant sports$640
Tickets to sporting events$180
Other recreation$250
Other entertainment$250

πŸ‘‰ Entertainment and food are typically paired together. On average, people spend 9% of their budget on vacation entertainment.

πŸ‘‰ That adds up to about $52 on average for domestic vacations and about $293 for international vacations.

In terms of what people like to spend money on for entertainment while vacationing, sports and movies are the top two options.

People who like to play sports while vacationing actually pay more for entertainment than any other group. For example, golfers who want to go to golf courses while on vacation tend to spend the most.

Final Thoughts

The travel and tourism industry is one of the most lucrative industries in the globe. Whether you are looking at travel in America or travel somewhere else, it is likely that that country gets a lot of money from you and other like-minded travelers.

In fact, travel and tourism bring in a lot of revenue in taxes from both direct and indirect travel expenses. It also attributes to a greater economy by offering more job opportunities, leading to more money in the market.

As of 2020, travel and tourism was an industry that got hit pretty heavily by COVID-19. As a result, 2020 statistics about traveling were very different from the trends from the years before.

As things start becoming more normal again, it is likely that travel and tourism will go back to being one of the most popular pastimes around the globe.


Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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