Americans spent $185 billion on ‘obli-cation’ trips over past year

Whether we like to not, many of us are compelled to take family vacations for things like weddings, family reunions or invites from friends to experience their new cottage. In today’s economy, this is something that is very difficult to afford and new data says it’s taking a significant chunk out of our wallets.

A new American Travel Behavior Survey from discount travel site reveals that during the past 12 months consumers have spent approximately $185 billion on trips that they felt obligated to attend, which has been described by the website as an “obli-cation.”

The average person spent roughly $800, which is about nearly one-third of total U.S. spending on leisure travel. Birthdays were one of the most common types of obli-cations, which cost Americans $32 billion on travel. Weddings, meanwhile, were second with $20 billion to attend these events as they also leave a $100 gift. Reunions were also expensive at $11 billion, while trips for baby and wedding showers were pegged at $7 billion.

OblicationOf course, according to the news release, this only represents a portion of the travel-related costs as families have to dole out money on fuel, travel, rental cars, accommodations and other travel expenses that some simply can’t afford.

“Every year, many Americans set aside travel budgets only to find that obligatory events like weddings, birthdays and even holidays often hinder their leisure trip plans,” said Henrik Kjellberg, president of the Hotwire® Group, in a statement. He added in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that people simply don’t decline an invitation because we are “polite and social norms are a big factor here.”

A different study by American Consumer Credit Counseling, a non-profit financial advisory organization, found that the number of people not attending a wedding or a shower is growing. However, for those that have gone because they have deep feelings for their loved ones, more than one-third (36 percent) conceded that they have gone into debt just to attend a wedding.

According to an infographic published by the group, the average guest can spend $539 for each weeding they attend. A bridal party can cost another $577; while one-quarter of respondents have spent as much as $250 to be part of a wedding.

In total, though, Americans spend $621 billion per year on leisure travel.

Since it is difficult to plan ahead for these kinds of things, the Wall Street Journal listed a few ways to save while taking part in these obligatory adventures:

  • Book a hotel room in advance or look for last-minute hotel deals
  • Reserve a flight on Tuesday afternoons and search for online deals by clearing your cache
  • Use smaller brands for rental cars

The Hotwire online survey was conducted with 2,020 adults between Oct. 8 and 10. It does not contain a margin of error because it is not based on probability sample.