Should You Drive or Fly To Save The Most Money on a Long Trip?

Should You Drive or Fly To Save The Most Money on a Long Trip?

A long trip can be the best the way to recharge and get away from the routine of everyday life. You could be taking a relaxing vacation or going to see family. You might even get to go somewhere far for a business trip or conference, like Aaron and I did last week.

Now-a-days there are many ways to go about getting to where to you need to go, especially within the United States. One can travel by train, car, plane, and even bike across this country.

When talking about traveling for leisure or business the question often asked is, should you drive or should you fly? Depending on a variety of factors driving or flying or both can save you money or be very costly. Here are some factors in making your car versus plane decision.

Time Commitment

The first thing you should ask yourself is how much time do you have? If you live say in Kansas and want to go visit the Atlantic Ocean, it’s going to take you a good day or two to drive, when you could be there within a few hours if you flew. Do you have time to add four days of travel (there and back) to your itinerary?

Time Spent at the Airport vs. Time in the Car

At a previous place of business there was a salesman who lived a three hour drive away from headquarters. Every time he had to come into headquarters he would fly. It’s only a one-hour flight but if you include arriving two hours early to the airport, any delays,  getting into a rental car and the drive from the airport to headquarters, it just about equals out. For him it was easier and he didn’t have to sit there and drive. Time spent at the airport and in the air can be about the same as driving it yourself. If you don’t mind driving the mileage might be cheaper than purchasing a round-trip ticket.

Cost of a Long Trip

Gas prices have been pretty steady lately, staying at about $2.09/gallon. (Disclaimer it is probably more in the urban coastal cities than in the Midwest.) To decide travel costs, look at what it would cost you in gas, then look at how much mileage would be added to your vehicle and then add in hotels, food, attraction fares, etc.

Then look at how much an airplane ticket would cost you round trip. Don't forget to add fees for checking baggage, parking lot fees, rental car costs and other things for a long trip. Keep in mind travel expenses increase during holiday season, spring break, and summer. Sometimes it could be more cost effective to fly rather than drive on short distances.

Jet Lag After a Long Trip

When you think of jet lag you think of losing sleep from traveling overseas on a long trip. You can experience jet lag flying across the U.S. Traveling wears you out not matter what mode of transportation you take. Driving for five hours takes as much energy as it does fighting security and maneuvering massive airports (not to mention cramped quarters and many, many more passengers). If you need to be fresh for a business meeting, flying could be better as you can relax and sleep on the plane, where you can’t when you drive.

There are many more factors to think of when deciding between flying and driving for a long trip. It the end it comes down to cost, mileage, and level of weariness. Not everyone is a road warrior who can drive hours at a time day after day. Research the best times to purchase airfare and look around for flight and hotel deals.

If you want to drive for a long trip, it might be just as cheap to rent a car and drive it to save mileage on your own vehicle. In the end it’s about the experiences and memories created when traveling, either by yourself or with your loved ones.

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One thought on “Should You Drive or Fly To Save The Most Money on a Long Trip?

  1. I and my family every now and then try to visit other places. It's part of getting away of our routine and it's fun. We always have fun and are so excited to deal with challenges as well and to visit places.

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