View Full Version : Actual cost of long-distance driving?

Barb D
08-18-2002, 01:27 PM
How much does it ACTUALLY cost to drive long distance? DH is telling me to figure $.33 a mile, but what is that based on? We'd be driving from MD, and at that rate it would add about $600 to the cost of the trip. (I'm trying to convince him we can do this trip cheap, and this $600 business isn't helping my case!)

08-18-2002, 02:45 PM
The cost of driving depends on if you just want to know how much cash it will cost you right now or if you factor in depreciation on your car. Most jobs that require driving factor in depreciation, but you may not want to count that now, since you won't have to pay the money for a while and because you'll be using the car for your own pleasure, not to do a job.

The main costs are going to be gas and oil change. The oil change is relatively cheap. If your car gets the oil changed every 3,000 miles, and if an oil change is about $30 where you live, that's $.01/mile. The cost of gas depends on the mileage your car gets. If you don't know it, factor it a few times when you're doing mainly highway driving. To get the price of gas, you could use the current average national price, or you could just guess. That's probably what I would do. I think gas is running about $1.22 around my house right now, so I'd probably multiply by about that much, since we usually have to fill up in Georgia, and their gas is usually a bit cheaper than ours.

08-18-2002, 09:39 PM
$600 ? We drove from PA with a minivan and we spent $120 in gas roundtrip , it may be a bit more now because of the gas price but no more than maybe $50 more.

08-19-2002, 12:11 PM
We drive down twice a year from S Jersey, tolls approx $5, one night in a nice motel $60 to $65, gas $50 to $55, this was in March, gas was a little cheaper. We usually pack a lunch to eat on the way, and just grab a pizza or fast food for dinner, add another $10. The best thing about driving is the stuff you can take with you in the car, it sure beats a suitcase!! Have a nice trip!

08-19-2002, 12:31 PM
We drove from northern NJ in May. We spent about $120 in gas. I'm not sure how much tolls we're - most of them went on the EZPass. We probably spent about $250 on food, and we spent about $300 in lodging (3 overnight stays, including taxes). That adds up to about $620!

I finally convinced DH that we should fly for the next trip in November (we used to fly all teh time before 9/11). We spend $396 in airfare for the three of us (including a seat for the baby, 11 months old), and we will be splitting car rental or limo service with my in-laws (we're haven't booked that yet). So, we'll actually save money by flying in our case.


08-19-2002, 03:08 PM
AAA estimates the cost to drive a car at .40-.52 a mile. IRS allows .325 a mile, I believe. Gasoline cost is less than 20% of the cost involved in driving a vehicle. No way can anyone drive for less unless they are not considering all expenses. Including cost of car, insurance, depreciation, gas, oil, maintenance, etc. $600 is probably low for your trip. I find I can always fly for less. Even a group of 24 can fly for less than driving the number oh vehicles for a group that size. Also, the airlines safety history is so much better than the chances you take driving a car to Florida.

08-20-2002, 01:06 PM
Whew Nuthut- you work fot the airlines? Barb is trying convince her husband to go, not scare him from driving anyplace :-)

yes the irs does 33 or whatever and the AA says 40-52 but that includes FIXED COSTS like the insurance and depreciation you mentoned. Your insurance bill doesnt go up because you drive to disney. The depreciation they factor is largely based upon age and not milage so as your car isnt going to get any older by going on vacation than that wont change as much (figure the blue blook value of 'over' milage is like 8-10 cents and if you dont drive alot maybe you havent put 'enough' miles on your car).

So the incremental cost of a trip to disney is mainly gas and oil plus tolls. Than a small amount you need to factor in that maintaenance itmes will happen a little bit sooner due to the extra miles, and finally if you intend to return a lease or trade in the car eventually and you use more than aroun 12-15k miles a year than add the blue blook over cost.

So i think maybe 500 or 600 might be close to the 'true' cost but the out of pocket expense is probably less than half that. So try the "out of pocket expenses are only a little over a hundred bucks route".

merryweather's twin
08-20-2002, 04:26 PM
We drive from mid MO and we use about 400-500 for the trip. That is food and 2 $40-50 dollar a night hotels 3-4 fill ups each way. I do not count Ins or mat. becouse 3000. miles does not effect it much. I wish I could count all that stuff so I could fly every trip but I think DH would catch on!!!:D

Barb D
08-20-2002, 05:45 PM
Thanks, mikek! :) Yes, I am trying to convince my DH to let us go. (He won't go himself in any case.) Flying is not an option at all. IF we go at all, we'll drive.

08-20-2002, 09:02 PM
I just did this trip last week to talk DD to work at the Disney College Program. Left So. Md (Calvert) about 2 p.m. monday, drove til 9 p.m. stopped in SC for 39.00 a very nice Ramda with con. breakfast, continued the next day for about 5 hours. Gas for a Neon was under 40.00. SO on the road, about 95.00 for two people. I did stay for five more nights before flying back home. But we wont count that $$.

08-20-2002, 09:14 PM
If your car is sitting in the garage you are still paying insurance and it is being depreciated. The .32 per mile, is the gov. reimbursement rate, if you use your private vehicle for work. Not to use your own car that you own, etc. I would never add that to a vacation trip. When there is four people flying, plus add a rental car when you get there, your talking $500-700 just for transportation or more.

08-21-2002, 09:13 AM
Actual out of pocket cost during the trip is essentially gas, lodging, food and any tolls that might exist on highways. If you leave out lodging and food, your actual cost from MD for gas and tolls is likely to be in the $100 to $150 range depending on what you are driving. The $.33 a mile is basically close to the allowable IRS expense. That figure takes into account not just gas costs, but applicable wear and tear on the vehicle, depreciation due to the additional mileage, insurance, oil use etc. Those are not costs you actually pay for out-of-pocket during the trip but ultimately you do pay for them.

08-21-2002, 09:57 AM
Figure gas and tolls UNLESS you're leasing a car and will be going over mileage. Then you must include the lease mileage rate.
If you're car is old and you're nursing it then you must include the possibility of repairs/breakdown. Actually you probably should include something toward the extra food when driving.
If you own (not lease) a car in good condition you can SAVE money driving.

I'ts correct DON'T COUNT your fixed expenses.

08-21-2002, 10:13 AM
For us 2600 miles R/T it cost 200 in gas in a full size van,. We drove thru and it was worth it. Remember when figuring your actual cost that it costs money to use you car at home too. My actual cost were more alog the lines of 150.oo. We packed a cooler and snacked out of it the way down.

08-21-2002, 01:27 PM
Don't forget to factor in FOOD and LODGING, two expenses that you would not have if you were to fly.

08-21-2002, 02:23 PM
Actually for us, food is no more for driving than flying.

It takes about 12 hours for us to drive to WDW and about 6 hours from doorstep to doorstep to fly. (That factors in getting to the airport 90 minutes before our flight, an hour layover in Atlanta, gathering our bags, Tiffany Towncar and grocery stop)

We're looking at 2 meals on the road in reasonably priced places, plus we can take a cooler of drinks, or one meal and drinks in overpriced Atlanta airport.

08-22-2002, 06:34 PM
My husband won't drive anywhere more than 5 hours away! He figures in the whole she-bang including how much he thinks his time is worth by the hour (ballpark figure is usually at least $10 per hour). So my figures for a driving trip are always huge considering that WDW is around a 16 hour each way haul for us. Its two hours to fly direct each way. So basically we ALWAYS fly. The next trip we have booked is $132.50 rt each with a 4 hour total travel time in the air. So its a lot cheaper for us to fly according to him. And I do like getting there in 2 hours much better than 16 hours!


08-22-2002, 07:33 PM

We think alike, we never drive over 5 hrs either. We would also rather take a 2 hr flight instead of wasting 2 days driving and being exhausted when you get there.;)

08-23-2002, 12:38 PM
We flew 4 times and I use to think they same thing until our last flight. We still waste 2 days on travel b/w waiting for fllight,actual flight, car rental etc...After 9/11 my DD asked for us to please drive so we did. LEft at 6pm arrived at 6pm the next day. Yes we were tired but not having the airport anxiety ( carrying 2 kids etc..) was a great trade off. I don't think we would drive if were weren't able to drive thru that would be just to much time. Our cost saving was around 1000 after not having to rent a minivan or flight. There are alos cost to flying I hate 120.oo to park at the airport and food a thte airport will prepare you for WDW prices,lol!

08-23-2002, 02:00 PM
Also don't forget to factor in your time. 2 days driving down and 2 days driving back tired can eat into vacation time.

08-23-2002, 05:33 PM
Forgot to add... I also have to figure in that I only get 2 weeks actual vacation time from work so I don't want to waste it in the car!


08-23-2002, 05:38 PM
I'm glad somebody else thinks the way we do. We get a lot of questions about why we always fly. Probably when we have kids we'll drive unless airfare is rock bottom!!


08-23-2002, 05:55 PM

Flying is the "best and safest way" to travel.Especially if you are limited to 1 week of vacation at a time.We just flew to Norfolk this July,to go to Nags Head NC. We rented a car there and drove 90 minutes to Nags Head.Instead of driving 10 hours from Ohio.;)

08-24-2002, 07:22 AM
We drove in an old suburban, and I think gas and tolls were under or around $300.00. Drove straight through, so no hotels. I don't know about the food cost but maybe between $100-150 for the eight of us (breakfast, lunch and 1 dinner). We will drive again for our trip in Dec. but probably stop overnight this time. My husband has to fly a lot for business, so doesn't want to deal with it when he doesn't have to. I just like driving,always have always will.

Barb D
08-24-2002, 12:51 PM
I prefer driving to flying, myself. The actual flight time is a lot less than driving time, but when you add in driving to the airport, schlepping all your stuff and kids through the checkin line, security, etc., waiting on the runway while they check whatever light is going off in the cockpit, schlepping the carry-ons and the kids to another plane because the light won't go off, schlepping the carry-ons and the kids to baggage claim, waiting for your baggage, schlepping the carry-ons, the kids, and the baggage to the rental car counter, waiting in line there, schlepping, the kids, the carry-ons and the luggage to the rental car, and then driving the - what is it? about 45 minutes to WDW ---- you've used up quite a bit of time and energy. Plus, you have to do it all on THEIR schedule.

To me, it's so much simpler to load the luggage and the kids in the car, start driving, stop a few times along the way whenever you want to, drive straight to WDW, and unpack the car when you get there. Yes, it takes a bit more time, but with a lot less hassle in the long run. I guess it helps that my kids enjoy long car trips. We listen to books on tape in the car (Harry Potter 4 lasted us to Niagara Falls and back, and plus some extra tooling around town.)

The bottom line this trip, though, is money. Flying is absolutely out of the question, especially since we'd have to rent a car. (The main point of the trip is a family reunion farther south in FL.) The decision is whether to drive or not to go at all.

08-24-2002, 03:43 PM
Barb D,

I understand your point of view, especially with 2-3 kids, it would be expensive flying. But when it is just my wife and I, it is much more relaxing to fly. We always just bring 1 carry on baggage each, no waiting for luggage;) , we use National Car rental, Emarald Aisle. We get off the plane with our carry on's,walk to the car rental area, National's is on- site, pick out any car we want, no waiting in line, get in car and drive off. Usually we are at our WDW resort (OKW) 35-40 minutes after landing when we fly.:D

08-30-2002, 11:32 AM
It's a tough decision to ride or fly. Usually it comes down to money. If you can do it much cheaper and drive, that's the way to go. We drove to Orlando last year. This year, if the numbers work out, the 5 of us (3 kids) will fly. I love to fly. I use to do it quite a bit in another life.

I'm hoping airfare will go down to $125/pp and I can rent a mid-size car ~ $150 for the week. That's about $750 total. (I'll get some friends to schlep us to the airport and schlep us back).

Has anyone flown with three kids and found it to be cost effective from the MD/DC area? TIA. :D

Barb D
08-30-2002, 05:05 PM
Pat_Rita, Southwest has a $118 RT internet special out of BWI. Wonder of wonders, DH is actually leaning towards us flying rather than driving. (We're in Columbia, MD, too.) This is an unexpected turn of events. Still not sure how it's all going to wash out.

08-30-2002, 11:25 PM
Thanks Barb,

I saw that fare at Southwest Airlines. By the time they finish with taxes it ends up being over $150 per person. I'm hoping something will come up even cheaper.

I'm starting to take a look at flying into Tampa as well. Whichever is cheaper.

Rita (waiting in anticipation for thos fares to go down) :bounce:

Barb D
08-31-2002, 07:35 AM
Rita, DH just decided that yes, we can go, and yes, we will fly. We'll probably go with the $118 Southwest fare. We checked into taking Delta into Tampa or Ft. Myers (where our family reunion is), but it looks like flying into Orlando is the cheapest way to go. I suspect that rental cars are cheaper in Orlando, too.

08-31-2002, 08:37 AM
Originally posted by Barb D
Rita, DH just decided that yes, we can go, and yes, we will fly. We'll probably go with the $118 Southwest fare. We checked into taking Delta into Tampa or Ft. Myers (where our family reunion is), but it looks like flying into Orlando is the cheapest way to go. I suspect that rental cars are cheaper in Orlando, too.

Barb D,

Its the only+ best way to travel(fly)!!!;)

The Duchess
09-02-2002, 08:45 PM
Peace of mind driving. Priceless!
We're driving from Southeastern Mass in October (again) and staying over two nights each way. We always figure on adding the extra driving days to our vacation time. I cannot even imagine the hassle of getting to the airport, luggage, parking, security....
We always stay one night in a great place (this trip, Savannah, Georgia) and always arrive WDW one night early and stay at FW cabins. I don't care about any of the arguments about driving versus flying statistics...I'm driving! Just thinking about what those poor people went through on 9/11 puts me in my SUV. At least I have some control when I'm driving.