Time is money travel dilemma: fly or drive?

las-vegas-smallSouthern California is great place to live for people who like to travel. It’s a short drive to the mountains, desert or beach and just a quick flight to Napa Valley, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Phoenix or Las Vegas.

Right now, I’m planning our annual trip to Vegas to meet my brother and his wife for a weekend, and I’m considering driving. When I say I, I mean that I’m considering riding, while Chase drives. Lots of people drive from So Cal to Vegas and I’ve done it a few times. Driving across the desert looking at cacti is boring. Flying is easier, but it’s also more expensive and not that much faster. I’m more than willing to pay for convenience, but the security lines at the Vegas airport are hardly convenient, so what to do?

In the past few years, I’ve never really considered driving because we booked early enough that our flights were cheap, so it saved money (and time) to fly. This year my brother was slower to confirm his travel dates, so we’re looking at $450 on Southwest, or $320 on Spirit Airlines (which I’m pretty sure will charge me to use the restroom, based on the extra fees they added during my ticket search). Add in another $25 for parking at the San Diego Airport and $50 in cabs to get to/from the Vegas airport to the hotel, and we’re close to $400. We have a fuel-efficient car, so based on current gas prices, it would cost about $100 to drive.

So here is where the time factor comes in. Factoring in getting to/from the airports, time in the airports and the flight (assuming it’s on time) it would take about three hours and 45 minutes door-to-door. Driving takes five hours (assuming no traffic). I have to mention that since we are traveling Saturday and Monday, the roads won’t be too busy, meaning less traffic and not as dangerous as they would be driving on a Friday evening or a Sunday afternoon. Being on the 15 freeway to Vegas with cars full of people who are excited to get there, then back with them hungover is not safe, and I wouldn’t consider it. We also have a place to stay that is halfway there, so we could break the trip up if we wanted to.

I would like to save $300. Chase likes to drive and it might be fun for us to take a road trip alone. So, why can’t I decide? Because I’m a Libra and can be indecisive, especially when it comes to decisions that cost me time and money. Since he’d be the one driving, I’ll let Chase decide. And let’s be honest, l know that $300 could be gone in one hand of blackjack anyway. But, if we save some money by driving, I might miss that cash a little less.

My brother says anything more than a six-hour drive, you fly. Vegas is less than six, but still long. What is your limit in flying vs. driving to save money?

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2 thoughts on “Time is money travel dilemma: fly or drive?

  1. When I have the time, I drive. I do a 10-hour drive to my parent’s house for the holidays – just so I don’t have to worry about costs of my car sitting at airport for a couple of weeks. However, I also know that it’s about $180 for round trip gas with my car versus $400+ for flying and then being dependent on other people rides, on top of car fee at airport.

    • Thanks, Karolyn! It is nice having your own car at your destination, isn’t it? We won’t drive while we’re in Vegas, but we can also head back home whenever we want, instead of waiting around for our flight!

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