Fun Comes at a High Cost: How Much Does it Really Cost to Have a Good Time?

How much does a good time cost? A lot, apparently, says a new survey by Play USA.

In September 2022, Play USA surveyed 1013 people above the age of 21 to get their feedback about vacation regrets and secrets.

One of the biggest vacation regrets has less to do with behavior and more to do with money.

More than 1 in 4 (26%) Americans have regretted a vacation because of how much it cost. The majority (80%) budget before going on a trip, but about 1 in 4 (23%) admitted they don’t stick to their budget.

The pandemic and inflation have also impacted travel plans in 2022 and already in 2023.

More than half (54%) admitted to cutting down vacation plans in 2022 because of financial concerns; 48% have already made changes to vacation plans in 2023 for the same reason.

“Vacations are a way to escape the realities of everyday life but when it comes to that work hard, play hard mentality, some people go a little too far,” said a spokesperson on behalf of Catena Media Jenn Tracy. “While some turn to drugs and alcohol for a good time, others blow the budget. According to our research, 80 percent of travelers budget before going on their vacation but nearly 1 in 4 (23 percent) don’t stick to that budget.”

Inflation Concerns

A recent Harris study poll revealed that more than a third (37%) of holiday travelers are concerned about how much their travel plans will cost due to inflation.

“Inflation and the current economic climate are having an impact on how people are traveling,” Tracy said.  “More than half of respondents cut down on vacations this year because of financial concerns. Things are looking slightly better for 2023. Only 48 percent are cutting down on vacation plans due to financial concerns, with Americans planning to take two trips next year.”

 Budgeting Regrets

“We all know vacations can get expensive, and nearly a quarter of people said they regretted a trip because of the cost,” continued Jenn Tracy.

The key to saving money while traveling is to set yourself up to succeed by researching ahead of time, leveraging your existing resources, and avoiding common travelers’ pitfalls.

As a traveler, you always want to be wary of anything that seems tailored, especially to visitors near major attractions. These ‘tourist traps’ are often overpriced, lower quality restaurants and stands selling the same things you can buy cheaper a little further in town.


81% of Americans who have gone to Las Vegas gambled, the study also revealed.  On average, people admitted to spending about $487 on gambling, and many got carried away with dreams of striking it rich. More than 1 in 5 (22%) disclosed they spent more money than they planned.

Many Americans made out well in the casinos. People shared they won about $1,140 on average! However, all that money did not always make it home. 1 in 4 admitted to gambling their winnings away.

Be Prepared!

Traveling, especially to Las Vegas, can blow your bank account if you are not careful. So long as you bring mindfulness and awareness to your spending and create a reasonable budget that you stick to, you’ll have a better chance at balancing all of the experiences that are important to you with the demands of your bank account.

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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.