04 December 2008

bankrupting ourselves with holiday travel

Okay, I mentioned in my last post that I wasn't going to complain about airfare prices, among other things, but this is less of a complaining post and more of a startled observation. With math.

Get Rich Slowly linked to an interesting site yesterday: Cost To Drive. You put in your starting point, destination, and what type of car you're driving, and it calculates your estimated fuel costs. The site finds the lowest prices for gas along the way, so it's really more of a minimum cost, but it's still fun to play with.

So this morning, as I was playing with the site, I dusted off the seldom-used math part of my brain and did some additional calculations. Because the site uses the lowest prices, I rounded up (waaaay up) to reflect potential fluctuations and the fact that one might not always find the lowest-priced gas around. I learned that, even with my rounding, our plane tickets for Christmas break cost more than five times the price of fuel for a drive across the country and back.

Then I figured that if we were to drive from New York to Washington, even if we were to stay in decent hotels and eat out, we could easily do the round trip for less than half of the price of our plane tickets. By driving, we save ourselves at least 4 days of travel (assuming that somehow we'd be able to drive pretty much non-stop), which means that we are spending at least $250 a day for those four extra days with Greg's family. Ouch. Not that they're not worth that, of course, but still. Ouch.


kim said...

You know, I was actually wondering just the other day if driving would be cheaper for you guys, although I know you have more time (and weather) constraints at this time of year to make flying a better option, but the cost difference you found is really astounding. The real question, though, is whether that long a drive with the kids would be too tough or stressful - if it is at this point in life, then maybe the ease of air travel is worth it...

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