You may have heard that airfares are expensive this summer. Capacity cuts and increased demand combine to make a lethal combo for travelers looking for a bargain. But will you get a better deal if you forego a flight and take to the road instead?
In many cases, you may be able to save by hopping on a bus or train, or driving yourself. But keep in mind that what you save in money, you'll spend in time. In the case of summer vacations, then, the question becomes what's more valuable to you -- your budget or your schedule?
I looked at three (relatively) short trips for summer sojourners: Boston to New York City, Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and Indianapolis to Chicago.
I priced out airfare, bus fare, train tickets, and road-trip fuel costs, and also calculated the amount of time each respective travel method would take.
Each scenario shows round-trip per-person costs, including all taxes and fees. Estimated duration times are each-way. For the fuel test comparisons, I checked prices on AAA's Fuel Cost Calculator using a 2005 Honda Civic as an example.
The results came in as follows:
|Route||Flight Price/Duration||Train Price/Duration||Bus Price/Duration||Fuel Price/Duration|
|Boston/New York||$123/1h 20m||$98/4h 10m (NE Regional), $221/3h 35m (Acela)||$19/4h 15m||$42/3h 40m|
|Los Angeles/Las Vegas||$130/1h||No train option||$60/5h 45m||$54/4h 20m|
|Indianapolis/Chicago||$156/1h||$56/5h 5m||$28/3h 15m||$35/3h 6m|