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Should you fly or drive for your summer travel this year?

Airfares near all times high in 2023
Delta airlines
Posted at 4:00 AM, Mar 29, 2023

Many of us are planning out our summer trips right now and deciding how we're going to get to our destination. One of the first things you have to decide when traveling is whether you will fly or drive.

It's no surprise -- both will be more expensive this year. Travelers heading out on spring break are well aware of that, as they are paying near-record airfares right now.

Domestic fares are averaging almost $300 this spring, according to the travel app Hopper.

Betty Hegley, who recently flew to her beach vacation, said she will probably drive for her next vacation.

"It is way too expensive," she said. "I feel that for what you pay for, you are not getting the service you used to."

Anita Ingram debated driving but said luckily, she found a $200 airfare.

"I looked at both and happened to get a good flight because I am leaving on a Sunday and returning on a Tuesday," she told us while waiting on a flight.

What to consider when planning your trip

But Sally French of NerdWallet.comsays aside from price, choosing a way to travel depends on:

  • How far you're going (cross country is almost always a flight)
  • The day of the week you start your trip
  • The number of people you're traveling with (taking four people in an SUV or van is usually much cheaper than buying four separate airline tickets).

The good news for road warriors is that gas prices are down compared to last year, when they were already at $4 a gallon, heading for $5.
But there are other costs to consider, including wear and tear on your vehicle.

"Also, there's the cost of parking, especially if you're traveling to a big city, and maybe tolls," French said.

Of course, flying has additional costs too. Check on bag and seat selection fees, where $25 here and there can add up.

You may need a rental car when you land, which nowadays can cost $100 daily. The cost of unplanned flight delays, especially if you need an unexpected hotel room could add up.

"We're still seeing staffing shortages which is a big cause of this," French said. "Of course, weather is still ongoing. I live in California where we've had these massive storms recently."

Leave early if it is an important trip

Her suggestion when booking a flight: bake in some extra time.

"If it's something crucial like a wedding that you absolutely cannot miss, maybe you fly in a day or two in advance just to account for those issues," she said.

That means an extra night in a hotel.

While flying is usually easier, you need to weigh all the costs and decide if saving time or saving money is most important to you.

That way you don't waste your money.

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