Often, people assume road trips like ours would be cost-prohibitive for them to take, given the current cost of gas and the long distances traveled. However, even with the price of fuel at or above four dollars per gallon, we’ve still found driving to be cheaper than paying for two airline tickets. Of course this depends on many factors, like how far you’re going, what vehicle you drive and how many people are along for the ride, but it’s worth comparing. I recently came across a tool for just that occasion.
Fueleconomy.gov has a great calculator for estimating potential gas costs before you even turn the key. It’s called MyTripCalculator. It allows you to select your start and end points, make and model of car you’re driving, percentage of city versus highway miles and current cost of fuel. It then maps your route and calculates your expected mileage, gallons of fuel you’ll use and cost based on the local price you provide. It’s not an exact science, but it puts the cost of gas in perspective with air travel (check average gas prices across the country here). I’ve input a few of our previous routes (nerd alert: I always keep track of gas mileage), and MyTripCalculator is quite accurate to our real world results. You could even put in a daily commute and estimate weekly gas costs if you are curious. It’s also very interesting to compare two different car models on the same route, a handy car shopping tool.
On a side note: we’ve also checked Amtrak ticket prices for the sake of comparison and they are usually worthless. Unless you really want the experience of train travel (or you’re in Europe), driving will almost always save you money.