Should you drive or fly in your travels?

There’s more to the decision to fly or drive somewhere than a simple calculation of gas costs versus airfare.

There’s the driving time, the drain of driving, car rental costs, car maintenance costs and baggage fees to consider.

But the money factor is a good place to start.

Consumer go-to guy Clark Howard says think of your drive time as being in a taxi with the meter ticking — at 50 cents per mile.

“The farther you’re going on your vacation, the more it pays for you to fly instead of drive,” Howard said last week on his Headline News cable network show.

If it’s just two people, however, driving is often the cheaper way to go, says Howard.

But, he warned, car rental rates are up. And money saved on a discount airline ticket can be canceled out with money spent on a pricey rental car.

“Your ticket could be extra cheap, but you’re car rental could be a fortune,” Howard said.

So find a good deal on a car rental before buying that non-refundable flight ticket, he recommends.

3 thoughts on “Should you drive or fly in your travels?

  1. That’s a really good point. It’s easy enough to switch dates with a car rental or cancel, but not so easy to do with a flight. But, there is another option — training it. I much prefer not driving when I travel and appreciate not having to do so in regions with excellent mass transit. For instance, you can train it between Boston and DC on the Eastern seaboard. It’s probably faster to take the train between NYC and DC.

  2. Note to ML: Part of this blog’s focus is consumer issues, providing information to help people make smart decisions in how they spend their money. And whether to drive or fly to a vacation or other destination is a common dilemma for many. This post was for them.

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