How Much Money Do You Spend on Travel?


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017 US consumers spent $205 billion on transportation for trips. Of the $205 billion, over $110 billion was spent on airfare. Almost 3 million passengers fly in and out of US airports every day, so that means there are over 1 billion passengers in a year. 

But these passengers are not uniquely counted. For example, if you are flying from San Francisco to Pittsburgh with a layover in Denver, you are counted as 2 passengers for that day. Most of the tallied 1 billion passengers are repeat customers, which is highlighted by the fact that over ⅔ of the 328 million US citizens do not fly in a given year. This means that the $110 billion that US consumers spend on airfare every year is spread out over fewer people, increasing the average spend per person.


Every year, air travelers spend a combined $5.8 billion per year on baggage fees. Most of these fees come from checked baggage or from overweight luggage. Not only do checked bags result in higher traveling expenses, but the process of checking them and retrieving them adds time to your travel. If checked bags are lost or delayed, the headache and time can eat into your vacation plans. 

Miscellaneous Purchases

The average traveler spends $140 while waiting at the airport. This money is spent on items like food, alcohol, electronics, books, and duty-free items. 

How Can You Reduce These Travel Expenses?

Other Modes of Transportation

Overall, the best way to spend less is to travel less. But if you must travel, it’s often cheaper to travel by a different type of transportation than an airplane. Traveling by car can be cheaper, especially if you’re traveling with others or if you have a fuel efficient car. Taking a train or bus to get to a different city can also be much cheaper than flying

When you factor in the time it takes to park at an airport and make it through security, taking the train can be both cheaper AND quicker when traveling relatively shorter distances. This New York Times article shows that the train is cheaper and faster when traveling between LA and San Diego, between St. Louis and Chicago, and between Boston and New York City. 

Smart Packing Strategies

To avoid high baggage fees, the best thing to do is avoid checking bags. By packing only what you need and by packing layers of clothes that can be easily swapped across outfits, you can easily fit 2-weeks worth of clothing and toiletries into a carry on bag and personal item. 

Creating a packing list can help you remember all the essentials and entertainment you need for your trip. Be sure to pack food, a water bottle, electronics, and entertainment so you can avoid expensive airport food and merchandise. As long as you don’t have liquids, you can bring food through security. And if you pack an empty water bottle, you can fill it up at a water fountain once you’re in the terminal.

Disclaimer: Please make safe, healthy, and wise decisions about how you choose to travel. It All Adds Up and its affiliates are not responsible for any travel accidents or mishaps that should occur from following any suggestions from It All Adds Up.


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