Are Trips Cheaper by Air or by Car?
If you have to travel a short distance, it is probably obvious that travel by car makes sense. When you account for time you spend at the airport, the price of tickets, and everything else, having a vehicle makes sense.
But if you need to travel for several hours, or even several days, does it ever make sense to take your car instead of fly? You have to consider the cost of plane tickets, but you also need to factor in the loss of time, extra meals, and possible hotel or motel stays. The right answer probably depends upon the number of people that you are traveling with and the time you have for your trip.
The right answer depends upon several factors, and these include:
- Would you need to rent a car at your destination if you do not have your own vehicle?
- How many people are traveling with you?
- Compare the cost of plane tickets vs. gasoline, extra hotel or motel stays, and wear on your car.
- How valuable is your time, and can you make the road trip part of your trip?
If you are traveling alone, it might make more sense to fly because you only have to pay for one plane ticket. This is particularly true if you don’t need to rent a car when you get where you are going. However, if you are traveling with an entire family, the equation changes.
In this case, balancing four air line tickets vs. a night in a hotel will be very different. It costs a lot more to buy 4 air line tickets than one, but it does not always cost much more to put 4 people in an affordable motel than 1 person. If meals are a consideration, you could always pack some snacks and lunches in the car, so you won’t have to buy a lot of expensive meals on the road.
However, if you need to have a car in your destination city, rental car costs could be a big factor. Renting a car for a week might cost as much or more as an extra airline ticket, and it will certainly cost more than a night in an affordable motel or hotel.
Plane vs. Car Trips
The right answer depends upon your particular situation. Go ahead and estimate the cost of traveling by car or by plane. Also consider the fact that it might take an extra day to arrive at your destination by car. Of course, you might make the road trip part of the fun by stopping at interesting places along the way.