Financing Your Travel

It never fails. You're scrolling through your social media feed, minding your own business, and you come across a friend or co-worker who's gone off to holiday somewhere exotic.

Maybe they're soaking up the sun in Bali or trekking through the wilds of Africa, and you can't help but wonder: how on earth do they afford it?

Particularly among millennials, those perfectly curated Instagram shots abroad are more than just a random occurrence. One 2017 survey found roughly 11 percent of people wanted to travel even more in the following year, though, perhaps surprisingly, their budgets were smaller.

So how are most people paying for their holiday excursions, and should you really feel so jealous of their trips? To find out, we polled over 1,000 U.K. and U.S. residents to find out what they love so much about travelling, where their ideal destinations are, and how they're paying for their trips . Read on as we break down the dollars and cents behind going on holiday and the role Brexit could play in U.K. tourism.

Reasons to Get Away

Overall Trip Satisfaction, Percentage Satisfied With Travel Aspects By Trip Type and Nationality

Whether they're travelling domestically or internationally, both U.K. and U.S. respondents love the same thing about going on holiday: the experiences.

More than taste testing new cuisines or meeting new people along the way, it was indulging in experiences that ranked highest as their reason for getting away. Especially during international travel, the research, planning, networking, and diversity you'll experience combine to make touring abroad one of the best opportunities for learning and vacationing combined.

Of course, that doesn't mean people don't enjoy the food too. Food tourism has turned into one of the hottest trends while travelling, and there's a lot you can learn about a country's culture from its food, more than just how it tastes. If a part of your travel prep means seeking out the most popular food bloggers, you're not alone. Slightly more popular among U.S. travellers both domestically and abroad, food you might try outranked people you might meet as well as friends you might travel with as one of the most enjoyable aspects of getting away.

Premier Destinations

From Beaches to Big Cities, Preferred Vacation Types By Nationality

Before you can decide what to pack or where to eat, there's a key consideration you have to make first: where you want to go!

There are plenty of practical elements that go into picking the perfect destination for your next holiday. You might want to think about who you're going with, what your budget is, or the vibe you're looking to create by getting away. For 56 percent of U.K. respondents and 60 percent from the U.S., getting to the beach ranked as the most preferred holiday type. As it happens, relaxing by the sea could be one of the most stress-free vacation destinations in the world. Studies suggest people who spend more time by the ocean tend to be more relaxed than people who live in greener areas .

In contrast, some people could be looking for a little more action and little less relaxation. . Roughly 54 percent of U.K. respondents and 45 percent of U.S. participants said they preferred taking a trip to the city,and another 42 percent of people from the U.K. said sightseeing got them excited about travelling. And while the food often ended up being one the best parts of being on holiday, most people aren't structuring their entire itinerary around eating. Just 12 percent of U.K. respondents and 19 percent of people from the U.S. preferred travels focused solely on cuisine.

Big Spending

Cashing In, Top Spending Trends While Abroad By Nationality

Survey Statistic

Once you've got an idea of where you want to go and what you'd like to do while you're away, it's important to start thinking about putting a proper budget in place. Being honest with yourself about how much you can afford to spend on your travels and keeping an accurate tally of what your food, lodging and entertainment may cost can help ensure you don't come back from holiday in debt, putting a downer on the amazing holiday you've just had.

For people from the U.K., nearly 53 percent identified food as their biggest travel expense while vacationing abroad. Where you're going can be a part of what determines the cost of eating, and some destinations will certainly cost you more for breakfast, lunch, and dinner than others. For 44 percent of U.S. respondents and 35 percent from the U.K., experiences ranked as the second biggest drain on their trips' finances.

Considering the average holiday in the U.K. costs over £2,400, wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to pay for the expenses of travel without having to fork over the cash? Despite how easy some travel experts say it is to use frequent flyer miles and rewards points to pay for excursions, most people still do not. Nearly 70 percent of U.K. respondents and 42 percent from the U.S. never used travel rewards points to fund their vacations. Close to 43 percent of people also admitted to going over budget while travelling internationally.

Cash or Card?

Preferred Payment, How We Prefer to Pay For Our Trips Abroad

Survey Statistic Two

Whatever you're passionate about, virtually every kind of vacation you can think of is going to be good for your body physically and emotionally. Whether you're escaping to the countryside or getting lost in an unfamiliar cityscape, taking a break from your daily routine is good for the soul. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for people to take trips they can't afford by using credit cards to pay for their holiday expenses in lieu of cash.

So how are most people funding their travels? U.S. travellers were nearly twice as likely to use their credit cards on vacation than people from the U.K. At more than 62 percent, paying with plastic was far more common than using a debit card (39 percent) or cash (52 percent) for Americans. Brits polled had a slightly different perspective on managing their holiday budgets. Over 67 percent of U.K. respondents paid with their debit cards while travelling, followed by under 35 percent using credit, and almost 32 percent opting for cash.

Of course, paying with a credit card doesn't always mean you can't afford your travels. As long as you aren't letting the interest accrue, you could be banking some serious travel points for a subsequent trip by swiping your card.

Political Persuasion

Brexit Breakup, U.S. Respondents Willingness To Visit the UK After Brexit and UK's Predictions on How Brexit Will Affect Tourism

Now, people travelling to and from the U.K. have more to think about than just where to eat or which major landmarks to see. Brexit, or Britain's exit from the European Union, could be having a major impact on travel in and out of the U.K. As one analyst described, the fluctuation of the pound as the political debate rages on is enough to stress out travellers trying to decide how much it will cost them to travel to or from the U.K. Crossing borders may also become more complicated and typically low airfares may begin to rise.

Perhaps in response to all of the confusion, nearly 15 percent of U.S. travellers were less willing to consider visiting the U.K. on their next vacation. While nearly 74 percent said Brexit had no impact on their holiday plans, more than half of Brits believed Brexit would negatively impact tourism in their country.

Accommodations with a view

Whether you love sitting down for a new meal in a far away country, getting up early to beat the lines at the museums, or sitting outside with your toes in the sand, making time for a holiday is good for you. For most people, both in the U.K. and the U.S., the most enjoyable part of vacationing was the experiences, quickly followed by food and lodging. As we found, people from the U.S. were both more likely to use their credit cards for travel (in addition to travel rewards) than people from the U.K., who more often paid with debit cards instead.

At, we can help you find the perfect balance between the destination and your accommodation. Whether you want to sit by the lake, soak up the sun on the beach, or explore the countryside, we'll create the perfect escape. Let our holiday experts recommend the perfect location for your travels all across the U.K., whatever the occasion. To book your hand-picked property, visit us online at

Methodology and Limitations

To acquire the data presented above, two separate surveys were run, one using Amazon's Mechanical Turk service and the other using Clickworker survey service. The data are made up of 534 American respondents and 496 respondents from the United Kingdom. Of all respondents, 524 were male, and 506 were female. Generationally speaking, the survey was made up of 83 baby boomers, 284 from Generation X, 615 millennials, and 48 respondents from a generation outside those listed.

The data gained from the survey rely on self-reporting, and there can be a host of issues in self-reported data, including telescoping and exaggeration. Attention checks were used throughout both surveys to ensure that respondents were paying attention and not answering randomly.


Fair Use Statement

Want to get away? Feel free to share the results of this holiday survey with your readers for any non-commercial use. We only ask that you include a link back to this page so that our contributors earn credit for their work too.