How much do Singaporeans actually spend on travel?

As with most of us, Singaporeans love to travel, with the majority of people from the Lion City taking more two or more vacations per year. However, with the cost of a vacation varying wildly due to a plethora of factors, ranging from supply and demand to airline costs to food choices, it can be hard to figure out the true cost of getting away for a few days.

A study by Value Penguin has broken down the average cost of a holiday for Singaporeans, as well as the cost of trips to popular regions.

Average cost of a family holiday

According to the 2013 Household Expenditure Survey, the average Singaporean household spends SGD 2,285 (USD 2000) per year on vacation, or SGD 662 per person for a household of 3.4 people. This would imply that the average Singaporean household spends about 2.2% of their annual income on travel – amounting to 1-3 vacations per year. Around 60% of that travel budget was spent on flight and hotel packages as opposed to direct bookings, most likely due to perceptions that packages offer better value.

The survey said, naturally, that income level had a direct correlation with how much consumers were willing to spend on their trips. For example, the lowest 20% of household earners spent SGD 710 on travel per year or 2.3% of their total annual income. On the other hand, Singaporeans in the top 20% of income bracket put aside the most to travel, at 2.8%, and spent an average of SGD 7,554 per household, more than 10 times higher than the lowest 20th percentile.

Average cost by destination

The cost of a vacation varied dramatically by destination. For example, travel within the ASEAN region was the cheapest, averaging around SGD 389-1,412 per person for a one-week trip. Popular destinations in East Asia and Australia cost a little more, around SGD 1,251 to SGD 3,346 per week per person. Travel to the United States is the most expensive out of the destinations studied, due to the long-haul flights and expensive accommodation, which would set travellers back between SGD 200 and SGD 700 per night.

Thus if the average Singaporean vacation budget is around SGD 2,300, it would imply that about 50% of Singapore’s households cannot afford a vacation outside of Asia every year. With roundtrip flights costing more than the total annual travel budget for the bottom 40% of households, even one-person households in this income bracket will have a hard time budgeting for a week-long trip to the United States or Europe.

Batam, Indonesia

However, this does not mean that the lower 40% cannot afford a vacation. Nearby popular destinations such as Batam, Malaysia or Thailand are affordable for most Singaporeans, especially if they have family in these places or if they’re going for long weekend trips.

On the other side, top Singaporean income earners would have the means to explore a variety of destinations. Wealthy one-person households can take a luxury trip to the US or Europe every year with enough money left over to take another trip to a nearby tropical destination in Southeast Asia.

High-income families of three to four people making over SGD 8,000 per month would be able to take a couple of Asia trips (provided they are careful with  food spending) or a week-long trip to Europe if they book during non-peak seasons, utilise a generous travel credit card for discounts and travel to destinations that are cheaper, such as Croatia, Greece or Spain.

Nonetheless, Singaporeans prefer to stick close to home when vacationing in exchange for being able to take them more often. This is evidenced by annual expenditure for packaged trips being allocated the most to Asian and Southeast Asian destinations and the fact the average length of a vacation is between three and six days.

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