I just got back from the sun-drenched French Riviera, where I lived the life of the yachting class for eight days on a working man's salary. I'm writing to let you know that you, too, can afford to vacation where hedge fund honchos, Russian oligarchs and other rich people do.
But, first, a reality check: This was not a Europe on 20-dollars-a-day backpack trip like I did in the early '80s, when the definition of luxury was a low-cost bunk in a youth hostel, a go-anywhere two-month train pass for $350 and a nightly dinner consisting of bread, cheese and the survivalist liquid better known as water.
No, this was a real, adult vacation, with my wife (who also works), and 16-year-old son. A memorable getaway. A splurge to be sure. But not a budget buster.
The all-in cost for three? Roughly $6,500.
Not too bad considering a ValuePenguin.com analysis of the Census Bureau's Consumer Expenditure Survey data found the average cost for a 12-night international trip was $3,251 in 2013, the latest government data available. Averages can be deceiving, however, as some people "go all out and spend $10,000 to $15,000 on a trip," says Divya Sangam of ValuePenguin.com, a consumer research website.
Overall, when it comes to pleasure trips, it is a tale of two Americas, with those who hardly spend a night away from home and those who drop an average of $4,700 on vacations each year, Sangam adds. A recent survey by Allianz Global Assistance found that Americans, when asked, "How much money do you anticipate spending on vacation this summer?" said $1,978.