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Travel Money, Travel Advice

How Much Money Should You Take On Holiday?

There are many factors to consider when answering this question.

And everybody's budget is different. Some people are on a tight budget, others don't need to think about finances or budgeting (what a life!).

And there are many different types of holiday.

So, we'll give you the information you need to answer this question and decide for yourself.

To be specific, we'll be focusing on what you spend whilst you're on holiday, not the money you spend to get there. (So, flights and accommodation prices, for example, aren't covered in this blog).

The anatomy of a holiday budget

Below, we've divided travelling abroad into four aspects.

By understanding and correctly planning for these, you can (hopefully!) manage to avoid overspending and ensure you take enough money with you - whether it's two week or two day holiday.

1. Destination

Your destination will heavily influence how much spending money you need. After all, different countries have very different costs.

For example, you might be able to live like royalty in Thailand for the same price as an average tourist in Denmark. And low-cost activities in Warsaw may cost a lot more than in San Francisco.

The most expensive destination in the world

According to data from Statista, the most expensive holiday destination is Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

This is based on average price per day in GBP. It takes the top spot of the 10 most expensive places to go at a whopping £459.58 per person.

2. Duration

Generally, the longer the holiday the better value for money (up to a point). But this also means you'll have to pay higher holiday expenses.

It will also depend on where you are, too. It is a lot more realistic to stay in Sofia for 3 weeks than Singapore, because of the big cost difference.

And going further afield to, say, Australia will usually mean a longer stay.

What is the average holiday duration for a UK holidaymaker?

On average, UK travellers spent 8.7 nights on their holidays abroad in 2022.

3. Local transportation

Getting around can account for a large chunk of your holiday budget.

So, it's important to consider costs for:

  • Taking public transport

  • Renting a car, including fuel, tolls and parking fees

  • Using taxis/Ubers


Holiday local transport costs Spider diagram


There is no average spend for this. It varies greatly depending on your destination, preferences and even what time of day or week (or night) you travel.

Check out websites and forums for tips on getting around locally to find out what to expect. Also, consider where your accommodation is located in relation to the airport and other amenities.

4. Food and drink

Eating and drinking are another huge part of the holiday experience.

Again, the average daily spend will fluctuate depending on your destination.

For example, a pint of beer in Warsaw is roughly £2.74. But the same beer will set you back about £7.24 in San Francisco...

Eating preferences are also important. Will it be street food or à la carte?

Looking up menus before your trip can help.

For example, Budget Your Trip offers a breakdown of costs for your individual destination. For Grand Cayman, for example, they suggest $39 (approx. £30 GBP) per day based on the food spending habits of past travellers.

5. Planned activities

Think about the following questions:

  • What kind of activities do you want to do? (i.e., adrenaline-filled or life in the slow lane)

  • Do you like to live as the locals do?

  • Do you like to be very busy?

  • Are you going to do any shopping or excursions?

Answering these will help you figure out your activity budget.

Combine this with where you're going and how long for. You'll then start to get closer to the number/range you need.

Holiday budget considerations for activities in spider diagram

6. Unexpected costs

You have to plan for the bad as well as the good. Research in advance what could go wrong at your vacation destination, and what it would take to fix.

Here is where the cost of 'fixing' isn't always linked to the cost of things in that particular city or country.

For example, some richer countries have better infrastructure.

So, for access to hospitals, the solution to your problem doesn't always cost as much as you thought (hint: remember travel insurance!).

7. Splurge out

"The essence of pleasure is spontaneity."

-Germaine Greer

Well, you are on holiday! Allow a little extra budget for treating yourself in the moment...

Cash or card: Which is better for your holiday spending?

This decision is important.

Depending on where you end up travelling and the card you use, it could have a big positive or negative effect on your budget.

This is because different card companies charge different rates and fees to use their cards abroad.

Foreign transaction fees aren't always what they seem on the surface. This is often a forgotten part of the holiday budget.

Getting the right card can help you save money on your holiday.

Example of holiday spending costs

Let's say you book a family holiday to Switzerland for 5 days.

Since, you know this destination is expensive, your budget £300 day per person. This covers travel, food, drinks and activities for all four of you.

This totals £1500 per person for the entire stay. That doesn't mean you'll spend it all, it just means the funds are available.

You budget a further £1000 for emergencies. But you doubt you'd have to use it, as often the biggest emergency expense is medical.

A trade off for Switzerland's high costs is that the Swiss healthcare system is one of the best in the world. This is totally affordable if you have good travel insurance and hold a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

So spending a large chunk, or even all of this budget on expensive medical treatment isn't something you have to worry about.

Spending summary

Determining how much money to take on holiday is very personal.

We can't offer a one-size-fits-all answer due to different budgets and preferences. But we've outlined key considerations to help you create a plan for your spending budget.

Split holiday expenses into categories like:

  • Destination

  • Duration

  • Planned activities

  • Unexpected costs

  • Splurges

Understand the cost discrepancies between destinations, the impact of duration and the importance of contingency funds for emergencies.

And, choose the right payment method to mitigate unnecessary fees that could ruin your holiday.

Whether you're travelling to Switzerland or Swaziland, Tokyo or Tahiti, you should always have low, and transparent card rates and fees when spending abroad. If you agree with us, check out how our travel card works to find out more.