#22: Compare the cost of traveling: driving vs. flying, and use travel tickers, calculators, and spreadsheets to decide your most cost-effective method of transportation for long trips.
Our family’s travel usually always consists of visits to grandparents who live far away. Before we had children, we would calculate the cost of flying vs. driving, and flying usually won out if we were able to catch tickets on sale. Now that we have a three-year old, the cost of driving seems to win every time. Here are some tips for keeping your travel expenses to a minimum:
- Avoid “peak” travel times to save on both airfare and gasoline.
- Check the airfare for your desired travel dates on Expedia (Expedia does not charge a fee for their service.)
- Then, go directly to the website of the airline with the lowest quoted rate and do a +/- 3 day search to see if there are any lower rates available. This sometimes turns up some great deals!
- Check the cost of driving by using AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator (This handy calculator takes your car’s make and model into consideration!)
- Find the least-expensive gas along the journey using Gas Buddy’s trip calculator and gas price-finder. Another super-handy tool!
Once you have an idea of the base cost for flying vs. driving, take the following additional costs into consideration.
- Did you add the cost of tax and fees to your ticket price?
- Will you have to pay for parking? (If so, park off-site for the lowest rate.)
- Add the cost of food on the road.
- Will you make your trip in one day, or will you have to stop at a hotel along the way?
- Add a bit for the expense of wear and tear on your vehicle.
You may find that the difference in price is drastic, and you have an easy decision, but if the difference is not so great, you may need to use a simple spreadsheet to weigh the options. Take other things into consideration, too. For example, do you need to get there right away, or do you have the extra time that driving takes? Do you have a pet that you need to bring with you? Is your vehicle up for the trip?
If your vehicle can’t handle a long trip, but driving would be substantially less, consider renting a vehicle for the trip.
How about you? What ways have you found to cut the cost of travel? Leave a comment below!
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