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How to decide if it’s cheaper to drive or fly this summer

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Now that we are in the third summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, some people who were not comfortable traveling in 2020 or 2021 have chosen to do so this year. Unfortunately, a combination of factors – including high gas prices, a shortage of rental cars, rising airfares and fewer flights – means traveling in the summer of 2022 won’t come cheap. (Or pleasant.)

When planning a trip, one of the biggest decisions we have to make is how we are going to get to our destination…which for most Americans means flying or driving. But which mode of transport is the most advantageous at the moment?

Here are some factors to consider when determining if it’s cheaper to fly or drive this summer.

The number of people going

It helps break down travel costs into the price per person, Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flightsrecently told the Washington Post. Let’s say you’re heading to Nashville, and round-trip airfare is $300, and gas would cost $250 total (and you have your own car).

If you are traveling alone (and only looking at airfare versus gasoline, and no other factors), flying would be cheaper than driving. But if you are traveling with someone else (or additional people)driving would probably be the most affordable option.

What do you do when you get there

What is your program once you arrive at your destination? If you mostly stick to an area that is walkable or has decent public transport, you may be able to get away without having to rent a car for the duration of your trip.

But if your plans involve exploring somewhere that requires a car to get around, and you choose to fly rather than drive to your destination, you may need to rent a vehicle when you arrive. Don’t forget to include the cost of car rental (and gas) in your estimated expenses.

The value of your time and your mental well-being

In addition to the monetary costs, also consider the value of your time and mental well-being.

For example, will spending time in a crowded airport waiting for a flight that might end up being canceled stress you out so much that it’s hard to relax for the rest of your trip? Or, would driving be technically cheaper than flying, but would take three times as long?

Not everyone has the luxury of considering the value of their time and well-being, but if you do, it’s not something to ignore.

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