It might help when planning a vacation to know how much other Americans spend, on average, for summer fun here and abroad.
Orlanda, Fla., is the world's most popular vacation spot. Last year, 13.5 million visitors explored the wonders of Walt Disney World, Sea World, Busch Gardens, the Kennedy Space Center, Church Street Station and Cypress Gardens.And the cost? Last summer, a party of three, on average, spent roughly $1,000 to drive to Orlando and spend five days and four nights. If they flew in, they spent about $1,300, according to the Florida Division of Tourism.
Last year, Americans traveling to other countries spent about $1,000 each for the trip, according to a Gallup survey for American Express. They estimated their next trip would run $1,200.
"One of the facts of life is the high cost of travel," said Voit Gilmore, president of the American Society of Travel Agents.
A middle-of-the-sealanes cruise, for instance, costs roughly $200 to $250 a night, per person. People who go the luxury route spend $400 to $600, and up, said Gilmore, owners of Four Seasons Travel Service in Pinehurst, N.C.
But that daily cost includes air travel, lodging and meals, which gives vacationers a rough idea of what to expect for any kind of vacation.
The American Automobile Association roughs out a budget for its members each summer, going through the prices in the AAA Tourbooks. Those travel guides list more than 26,000 motels and restaurants in the United States.
"Our suggested budget for a 1990 auto vacation is $173 a day for lodging and meals, plus $8.40 per 100 miles," said Geoff Sundstrom, in the public relations office at AAA's Orlando headquarters.
That $173 a day would cover the costs of a family of four with two adults and two children. The breakdown is $80 a day for lodging and $93 for meals. The $8.40 auto cost is based on a car averaging 23 miles per gallon on the highway.
While travel, lodging and meals are the three main budget items, don't forget you'll want to do something besides ride, sleep and eat. You'll need to budget for activities - admissions to theme parks and museums, fees for watersports, tickets to shows, tickets for tours.
And you must not forget to budget for souvenir shopping, that all-American sport.
No wonder Americans spend months planning vacations, two to three months for that prototypical trip to Orlando, according to the Florida tourist people.
"There are so many questions you must ask yourself," said Bernice Rosmarin, a certified travel counselor with V.T.S. Edison Travel in Edison, N.J.
"Do you want to lie on the beach or do you prefer doing a lot of sight-seeing? Are you satisfied staying in one place for a week or do you want to see a variety of places?"
And after you budget for everything you can think of, add another $50 to $100 a day, Rosmarin said.