How to: Calculate the True Costs of Driving vs. Flying

Finally, an online calculator that allows you to enter all of your conditional factors into one super-calculation to help you decide the most efficient way to travel to wherever you want to go. It’s called TravelMath, and it includes factors like current gas prices, car rental prices, airfare, the price it’ll take to get you to the airport, and one more vital component…    

Time. TravelMath also allows you to factor in how much more time taking off work to drive will set you back financially. Its default setting is assuming you make $10 per hour but you can easily adjust it to reflect your income status. I tried just a basic search for what would be the best way for a friend and I to fly from Los Angeles to Minneapolis and these were the results:

Perhaps it’s obvious (although it wasn’t to me at the time) that the price for two people to drive was slightly cheaper than flying since we’d split the cost of gas instead of doubling the price to fly. I also saw that it accounts for quantities such as speed, distance, and the value of your time, and from there gives you its recommendation. However you can still deconstruct their final calculation to determine what is most valuable to you. For example, it’s faster and shorter for me to fly to Minneapolis from LA, but it’s ultimately cheaper to drive. And for what it’s worth, Drew Barrymore loves it.

Check out the TravelMath calculator here and let us know if it helps you.