Monday, June 09, 2008

Flying vs. Driving

Several recent surveys seem to indicate that many vacationers are forgoing flying – choosing to drive instead, even considering gas prices. So we thought we’d do a quick back-of-the-napkin comparison.

Say you’re planning a week or longer leisure trip along the west coast, and weighing the costs of flying versus driving. Let’s pretend it’s 800 miles one way – far enough that it’s a two-day drive, compared to a one-stop flight (which, of course, will take all of a day each way, with diving to the airport, security, plane change, and car rental time). If you can afford the extra day each way, here’s our very simple breakdown:

Cheap flight $300 each, x 2 for a couple = $600
Cheap car rental = $540
Airport parking $10/day x 7 days = $70
Total for transportation legs = $1,210

Gas at $4.50/gallon = $450
Lodging at $150/night x 2 nights = $300
Breakfast & dinner on the road x 2 = $120
Total for transportation legs = $870

So, for $340 less, but two extra days, you get to take your golf clubs, lots of luggage, and bring home cases of wine or gourmet foods.

If you’re a family, those extra airfares for the rest of the family send this comparison out the (car) window. As will extra-baggage fees if you want to travel with the luxuries you can stuff in your car for free. And if you want to upgrade to a decent car.

You don’t have to take your shoes off to go through security to get to your car. You can snack as you want (better and cheaper, too). You can still feel your butt even after a day of driving because you can stop to stretch and move around. If you have pets and can find pet-friendly lodging, you can take the critters and save on kennel costs.

You (probably) won’t be made to feel like a criminal by the U.S. government (TSA). You’ll see some incredible scenery along the way.

Finally, the cheap $300 airfare example we’ve used may soon be a thing of the past. Is it surprising that the U.S. airline industry is in deep trouble?

Mt. Shasta, California