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Half of UK holidaymakers overspend on overseas trips, with one in ten falling into debt

2nd August 2023

  • Just one in six (16%) UK adults make a holiday budget and stick to it

  • Travellers spend £668 more per week than they would at home on average, equating to the cost of another holiday*

  • A fifth (22%) say ‘unexpected charges’ take them over their budget

  • Four in ten (41%) wait until after their holiday, or until their next statement, before checking holiday spend

Wednesday 2 August 2023: Half of UK adults (50%) say they overspend when holidaying abroad, with a tenth (11%) of them going into debt as a result. The ‘head in the sand’ approach to holiday spending may be responsible for travellers’ debts; just 16% of holidaymakers make a budget and stick to it, according to a survey of 2,000 UK adults by Starling Bank.

Nearly half of the holidaymakers surveyed (45%) say the reason they overspend is because they ‘just want to enjoy themselves’ when away, but three in ten (31%) get caught out by things being more expensive than anticipated, with food (54%), day trips (38%) and drinks (36%) having the biggest sting.

The ‘head in the sand’ approach continues when it comes to keeping track of holiday spend. Less than a third of travellers (28%) check their bank balance daily while abroad, with four in ten (41%) waiting until the holiday is over, or until their bank statement comes through to look over their total spend. More than a third (37%) say they are ‘surprised’ about their holiday outgoings when they do check their bank balance.

A fifth of UK travellers (22%) also say ‘unexpected charges’ take them over their planned spend. The top five unexpected costs travellers experience are:

  1. Buying things they forgot to pack (25%)

  2. Bank charges (23%)

  3. Local or city taxes (23%)

  4. Accommodation taxes (16%)

  5. Airline fees (12%)

This overspending can have a serious impact on the return home. More than one in seven (15%) report that as a result of overspending, they have been forced to cancel future social plans. Nearly one in ten (9%) have struggled to buy groceries, 8% have had to borrow money from friends and family to tide them over, and 7% have even struggled to pay their rent or mortgage.

Rachel Kerrone, Brand and Marketing Director at Starling Bank said: “Setting a holiday budget and frequently checking your bank balance might not sound like fun, but it can help soften the post-holiday blues by reducing the worry of overspending. It’s helpful to know exactly how much and where you have spent upon your return using insights from your banking app; understanding your holiday spending habits can give you a better idea of how much to budget for future trips.”

Overall, travellers spend nearly £100 (£95.40) more per day on holiday than they would at home, in addition to travel to and from accommodation at their destination. This additional spending averages at £688 during a one-week trip, which equates to the cost of another holiday*. Meals out (£20.20), experiences (£17.60) and travel at the destination, such as taxis (£16), are the top three things that contribute to increased spending.

With a Starling account you can pay by card or withdraw cash abroad with no fees from Starling, using Mastercard’s foreign exchange rate** .

Notes to editors

Research was conducted by Opinium among 2,000 UK adults between 7th and 11th July 2023.

*Average cost of a week long package holiday ranging from £693 - £867 depending on the country according to Which?

** Starling does not charge for using a debit card abroad, but some ATM providers overseas may charge their own fee. For details on the Mastercard card rate, visit

About Starling Bank

Starling Bank is an award-winning, fully-licensed and regulated bank built to give people a fairer, smarter and more human alternative to the banks of the past. It offers personal, business, joint, euro and dollar current accounts alongside a children’s card. Starling also provides a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) proposition through its subsidiary Engine, using the proprietary technology platform that it uses to power its own bank. Headquartered in London, the bank has offices in Cardiff, Dublin, Manchester and Southampton.


For media enquiries, please contact: Good Relations on behalf of Starling Bank
Priyanka Loomba
Phone: +44 7531 650633

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