We got home for our 6+ week Winter Summerland trip yesterday and quickly unpacked from the flight. It’s amazing how you can be away for that long with just a few bags (although we brought home 1 more bag than we left with).
Some friends were surprised that we flew to Florida instead of making the drive in our own vehicle. We were a bit undecided on the best course ourselves, but despite CV19, we opted to fly.
(The science that I read said that airplane air circulation is very, very good and the risk of asymptotic spread of CV19 is quite low).
How do the time & money compare between driving & flying?
Here’s my analysis …
Our flight to Florida on Sun Country Airlines were $311 each. Probably $400 once you add in the add-on costs of seat selection and baggage. When we landed, we rented a Toyota RAV4 from Enterprise for $2,135 for the 46 days we were there. That’s $46/day, including taxes and all the goofy fees they add on. Additionally, we had to fuel the car (25 mpg average) for the time we were in Florida – that’s another $240.
That works out to $3,175 for total transport by flying.
This part of the analysis is a bit theoretical. To start, the trip to Florida from our house in Minnesota is 1,561 miles each way (3,122 RT). In addition, we drove 2,079 miles around Florida on the trip itself. That’s 5,201 miles total.
Using the IRS’ 2020 mileage reimbursement estimate, $0.575 per mile, the cost of driving our vehicle (gas, insurance, and wear & tear) would be $2,991.
Additionally, the 22.5 hour drive would require at least 1 night’s hotel each way. I will assume that would be about $100/night, for an additional $200 total.
That works out to an estimated total of $3,191 for the driving option.
The good news is that the financial costs of both approaches are about the same. They are less than $20 apart ($3,175 vs $3,191).
Not included in that are the 22.5 hours of driving each way, plus gas stops, plus potential roadside breakdowns. Additionally, there is a cost to the ‘road food’ that would be needed for the extra 4 days of travel back & forth. Even at a ‘minimum wage’ of $15/hour for our time, driving (45 hours x2 people) becomes pretty expensive ($1,350).
Even in retirement, I value my time at much more than $15 an hour, so in the end, flying to Florida makes all the sense in the world to me in terms of both time & money. If we stayed in Florida for longer – as we hope to in the future – I realize the equation will change. Still, I think for anything under 3 months, flying is a better choice.