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Holiday Travel -- To Drive or Not to Drive

With gas prices on the rise, it may seem like it makes sense to fly to your holiday destination this year, rather than drive. But is that the case? Using the American Automobile Association’s Fuel Cost Calculator, it’s possible to compare the cost saving benefits of driving versus flying.
In the chart below, you can see it depends how far you’re driving, what you’re driving and how many people you’re taking with you.

Not surprisingly, for long trips like those from New York to San Francisco, driving makes more sense if you’re traveling alone – or with one other person – in an economy car. Forget about the SUV, unless you’re traveling with more than three people – it costs nearly $1,000. For very short trips, driving is the more economical option. Even in a big SUV, your cost will only be about $80 a day in gas. A great deal – no matter how many people are traveling with you. When it comes to mid-range trips, like from New York to Chicago, you’ll have to decide. Even with an economy car being about $90 cheaper, the prices are comparable enough that it’ll likely come down to preference.

When it comes to wear and tear on your car, it may be a good idea to rent. With economy cars as cheap $150 dollars a week with unlimited miles, you could still save enough over airfare to make it beneficial – not to mention cab fare and transportation costs once you arrive at your destination.

Travel mode
(round trip)
New York to
Washington, D.C.
New York to
Chicago
New York to
San Francisco
Chevy Aveo $54.86 $190.38 $683.10
Chevrolet Suburban  $79.80 $276.92 $993.58
Flying  $167.99 $230.69 $370.23