Author Topic: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)  (Read 12773 times)

lukebuz

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Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« on: February 12, 2014, 08:25:42 AM »
OK - so still in hair on fire debt mode (really, the fire is about out...but a little more ass-kicking to do), and have an upcoming vacation planned.
Heading out to the Front Range Rockies, near by MMM.  This is part vacation, part examination.  I live in Iowa, and my workplace has a location in Boulder, CO.  I want to get out of Iowa, and this area sounds nice.  Researching Boulder is what led me to stumble on MMM!

Anyways, here are the details:  700 miles each way, 2 people

Fly: $600 after fees, parking, etc
Rental Car: $425 after fees
Time: 7.5 full hours from my door to vacation cabin.  This includes 90 min drive to airport, wait, fly, wait, drive to cabin, etc.
Totals:  $1025 and 7.5 hours x 2 = 15 hours.

Drive: $200 after gas, wear and tear charges
Rental Car: $0
Time: 12-13 hours with a few stops.
Totals:  $200 and 13 hours x 2 = 26 hours

So, is it worth $825 to save 11 hours?  I'm leaning towards driving...

However, it will be in our Honda Fit - noisy, uncomfortable, and both of us hate long trips.  This will be torture.  Should be buck up and save the money?  $800 is a ton of cash, honestly.
Should be maybe take some of the savings and spend $200 of it by getting a nice hotel room at the halfway point each way?  7 hours + 7 hours isn't bad.  Plus, you have a nice stop to look forward too...

Thoughts?



Cincy Stache

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2014, 11:22:33 AM »
Make the drive, enjoy each others company and blast some tunes.  12hrs can fly by.

Fireman

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2014, 11:36:35 AM »
+1 for driving.  Think of all the neat things you'll get to see along the way.  Plus no security checks, cramped seats, or lost luggage.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2014, 11:49:48 AM »
+2.. thats a good straight run . Drive!

jawisco

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2014, 11:59:11 AM »
I would drive as well - get to leave when you want, take exactly what you want to bring.  No chances for hassles at airport or with a rental car (which can suck time and you have no control over). 

If driving is actually torture for you, then maybe flying is for you, but for me it is a no-brainer.  Learn how to make a long drive fun and you will save money and hassles forever.  Not to mention your hair is on fire.  You likely make it there quicker than you think.

One note - to do a fair comparison, your travel times need to be multiplied by 2 since there are two of you travelling.

Jamesqf

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2014, 12:10:43 PM »
However, it will be in our Honda Fit - noisy, uncomfortable, and both of us hate long trips.  This will be torture. 

Hard to believe that anyone could possibly consider a Honda Fit to be noisier and less comfortable than a commercial flight.  Me, I'd be driving even if it cost more, and that's doing the trip alone.  With two to split the driving, and occasional scenic detours (that is, you get out and walk now and then) it'd be a pleasure trip.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2014, 12:13:55 PM »
agree with everyone else on the driving... but then again my boyfriend and I actually kind of enjoy road trips so YMMV! we do usually try to put a stop in the middle if it's over ~11 hrs and we have time... just look for a hotel on priceline or hotwire. also, that means you don't have to cram as many hours into one day and can stop and see the sights... Roadside America is awesome if you are into weird kitschy random bits of Americana (our all-time fave is the Kaskaskia Dragon in Vandalia, IL -- giant metal fire-breathing dragon that runs on propane, built by the local hardware store owner!) I find it to be awesome quality time for us.

Hard to believe that anyone could possibly consider a Honda Fit to be noisier and less comfortable than a commercial flight.

haha, so true! I should add that all of our road trips are in my Nissan Versa, so not that different... but I know different strokes for different folks :)

lukebuz

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2014, 01:15:34 PM »
Well, it sounds like the concensus is driving.  I'll probably go that route, just for the cost savings alone.
Try to make it more fun with a few stops on the way...and a hotel in the middle.

Any other ideas to pass the time?

Audiobook?
Games?
Napping?

ritchie70

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2014, 01:36:59 PM »
Just think of it as getting $75 an hour to drive your car....

ketchup

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2014, 03:45:44 PM »
However, it will be in our Honda Fit - noisy, uncomfortable, and both of us hate long trips.  This will be torture. 

Hard to believe that anyone could possibly consider a Honda Fit to be noisier and less comfortable than a commercial flight.  Me, I'd be driving even if it cost more, and that's doing the trip alone.  With two to split the driving, and occasional scenic detours (that is, you get out and walk now and then) it'd be a pleasure trip.
This.  A Honda Fit is way quieter and more comfortable than the car I drove (1988 Chevy Sprint without a functional radio) from Chicago to New York (and then immediately back) in a weekend on an hour of sleep with only a dog for a copilot on the way back, and then biking 14 miles right after getting home.  A grand adventure of a weekend.  Flying would have just been boring and expensive.

Road trips are great.  Far better than air travel, and certainly cheaper in almost any scenario if there's more than one person onboard.

Exflyboy

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2014, 04:29:43 PM »
Well I would probably drive as well.

In fact we just bought a 2012 Chevvy Cruze with the LT2 (leather interior).. it totally transforms the car.. whisper quiet and up 38mpg.

We bought it for $12k cash with 45k miles..its perfect.

One thing we are all missing in the math however.... Risk!

Driving on a per mile basis is far riskier than flying... Hard to quantify but it is a factor.... As someone pointed out on my 80 mile each way commute..:)

Frank

mm1970

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2014, 08:59:19 PM »
Just think of it as getting $75 an hour to drive your car....

THIS!

Jamesqf

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2014, 10:24:25 PM »
Audiobook?

Never been a real fan of actual audiobooks, but radio dramatizations are good.  My personal favorite, back when I used to do a 5-hour drive about every week, was Shakespeare.  If you can find the Arkangel Shakespeare set at your local public library, borrow half a dozen titles.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2014, 10:33:41 PM »
If you're worried about doing a long trip in your Fit, rent a car and do the drive.  I rented an Altima for a week to drive down and see my DW (1400 mile round trip).  The rental was $150 and the car got 36 (!) MPG.  I'm sure glad I didn't drive my Honda Civic.

We frequently take week long car trips and almost always rent a mid to full size car.  More confy, more reliable and no wear and tear on our car.  It doesn't sound very mustachian, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper than flying (which, to me, is the modern equivalent of the cattle train scene in Dr. Zhivago.)

lukebuz

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2014, 10:19:54 AM »
OK!  I'll check into car rentals...our Fit is reliable...but noisy as all get out.
Denver rentals were big big $$, $475 a week for crap.  In my small town, maybe we could get a better deal!

PindyStache

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2014, 12:34:40 PM »
Driving is also far better in terms of one's carbon footprint and the overall sustainability of the earth we all happen to inhabit. I mean like by orders of magnitude and regardless of what you drive unless it's a tank or garbage truck. Sounds like you're already decided, so an extra pat on the back!

lukebuz

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2014, 02:54:27 PM »
Yeah, so still $394 for a rental for the time period needed.  Yikes.  It'd be about the same gas milage, and we only put 3K/yr on our cars...so an extra 1,500 for a 1x trip isn't that big of a deal.  They are still very low milage...

Would you agree it'd be quite the price to pay, just for a slightly more comfortable car for a few hours?

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2014, 03:01:36 PM »
I'm not familiar with the Fit, but I've done long trips in some very small cars (87 Celica, 93 Civic). If it's THAT uncomfortable, break the trip into two days. But I've done 850 miles with 3 kids under the age of 6 in a single shot so don't expect me to offer a shoulder to cry on ;P

I'd stick with your vehicle. I wouldn't want to worry about damage to a rental. The extra stress wouldn't make me more comfortable!

chasesfish

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2014, 03:22:03 PM »
I'd echo the choice of driving.

However, you may want to consider renting a car if you need something a bit larger and more functional for the trip.  I've become pretty accustom to renting cars now for road trips, keeps miles off our vehicles (which are gas guzzlers) and come with roadside assistance/car swapout if anything goes wrong.  I've been able to get the cost to around $200 for a week +.  Avis and Enterprises both had offices near my last house and I would price it out.  The longer the trip and shorter the number of days the better, sometimes the gas savings is self funding the rental car.

Also, rental car reservations are cancellable

Exflyboy

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2014, 03:50:18 PM »
Driving is also far better in terms of one's carbon footprint and the overall sustainability of the earth we all happen to inhabit. I mean like by orders of magnitude and regardless of what you drive unless it's a tank or garbage truck. Sounds like you're already decided, so an extra pat on the back!

I doubt it.. Modern airliners are very fuel efficient on an amount of fuel per passenger mile.. about 100 mpg per passenger in fact.

Of course it depends on where your going.. how long the flight is.. airplanes use vastly more fuel when climbing than when cruising.. so a long international flight is much more efficient than going a few hundred miles.

Frank

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2014, 03:50:49 PM »
Drive: $200 after gas, wear and tear charges
Rental Car: $0
Time: 12-13 hours with a few stops.
Totals:  $200 and 13 hours x 2 = 26 hours

...

Thoughts?

You are WAY underestimating wear and tear charges in my opinion. I'm not sure it is enough to change the equation to the "fly" side of things but still. You're assuming a cost of $0.14 / mile where the government recommends $0.55/mile. Granted they assume new, gas-guzzling cars but your fit probably isn't 1/4th the cost per mile.

Now I'm just curious what I think you could get if you were hyper efficient with your car for 1400 miles:

Lets say the Fit gets 40 MPG you're looking at 35 gallons of gas @ $3.30/gallon in CO right now = $115.50 in gas

Tires: $400 replacement / 50k miles = $13 in tires
Oil change: You do it yourself for $25 every 5k = $7 in oil
Other Fluids: Half of oil cost? = $3.50 in other fluids
Brakes: You are REALLY good with brakes and only need to replace everything every 50k miles and you do it yourself for $200 = $5.60 in brakes
Engine/transmission depreciation: $3000 replacement every 250,000 miles = $16.80 on the engine and transmission.
Rest of car depreciation: Lets say you drive it for 500k miles (with an engine and transmission replacement at 250k). You got a great deal and got it used with 10k miles for $10,000. When it finally dies you sell it to a scrapyard for $200 = $28 in depreciation

So total cost for this ridiculous level of efficiency = $189 / 1400 miles

Yep, I think your estimate of $200 is too low. Even if it was $700 though, driving might still make sense. Is there a train going where you're looking?

Mike

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2014, 07:52:49 PM »
+1 for driving.  Think of all the neat things you'll get to see along the way.  Plus no security checks, cramped seats, or lost luggage.
There are neat things driving from IA to CO?  This is news to me.

Until you get *well* into Colorado, all you're seeing is empty farm/ranch land and a few trees.  I-80 is one very boring stretch of highway between Des Moines and the I-76 / I-80 split in western Nebraska.

I-76 isn't much better until you get closer to Denver and can finally see the Rockies. 

dragoncar

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2014, 08:05:22 PM »
Yeah, so still $394 for a rental for the time period needed.  Yikes.  It'd be about the same gas milage, and we only put 3K/yr on our cars...so an extra 1,500 for a 1x trip isn't that big of a deal.  They are still very low milage...

Would you agree it'd be quite the price to pay, just for a slightly more comfortable car for a few hours?

It's $394 extra to rent a car in IA, or total?  Because then you save the $425 in CO.  Hard to believe two extra days costs $200/day.

Jamesqf

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2014, 10:33:38 PM »
You are WAY underestimating wear and tear charges in my opinion.

A lot of your numbers are pretty far off.  Just a few examples:

"Oil change: You do it yourself for $25 every 5k = $7 in oil" - Honda Fit oil change interval is 10K miles.

"Other Fluids: Half of oil cost? = $3.50 in other fluids" - Coolant & transmission oil change interval is 120K miles/10 years.

"Brakes: You are REALLY good with brakes and only need to replace everything every 50k miles and you do it yourself for $200 = $5.60 in brakes" - Only 50K miles?  Unless you really ride the brakes, you should be getting 100K on the front, more on the rear.  Pads will run you $25-50.

"Engine/transmission depreciation: $3000 replacement every 250,000 miles = $16.80 on the engine and transmission." - Get real.  It's a Honda :-)

rtrnow

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2014, 08:43:36 AM »
I'm really surprised at the comments about the Fit being uncomfortable and the suggestions to rent something bigger if needed. I think the Fit is really comfortable. The seats are better on my back than my 45K luxury car I traded (6' male here). The car is a bit buzzy at hwy speeds but not hard to talk over or turn the radio up. Then there is the space. I can fit an insane amount of stuff in the Fit. Honda did a great job with the hatch design. We just did a two week road trip over Christmas and all our luggage and gifts fit behind the rear seats with the cover in place. We're planning a month long road trip later this year in the Fit.

lukebuz

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #25 on: February 14, 2014, 08:54:39 AM »
Thanks for the good discussion.  I'll be coming from 50 miles outside of Des Moines (50158), and catching I-80 from DSM.
I agree with most of the wear and tear numbers actually.  Estimates on the high side, because, sometimes stuff just breaks for no reason.
But, if you take a middling approch, it's around $200.  A few bucks either way don't make much difference.
As for a rental vs ours....it would likely be 8-9 days, and even at $300 (a steal of a deal for something more comfortable than the Fit), that's alot more than $75 in depriciation!  The Fit can store all our stuff, and then some...so that's not an issue.

It sounds like wife is for the idea of 8 hours the first day, and then stop, relax, and 4 hours to finish it up the next day.  I'm with her on that.  Neither of us care for long trips, and aren't used to it.  Plus being in the Fit and that high of a speed will wear on you FAST.  Like being in a convertible at 80mph.  It's almost that loud.  I know because our other car is a Miata :)

A few other answers:  Yes, there is an Amtrak close by ($400 for coach, 14 hr trip) - but then you have to rent a car ($400)!   Better to drive, since we need transportation...

lukebuz

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #26 on: February 14, 2014, 08:57:40 AM »
I'm really surprised at the comments about the Fit being uncomfortable and the suggestions to rent something bigger if needed. I think the Fit is really comfortable. The seats are better on my back than my 45K luxury car I traded (6' male here). The car is a bit buzzy at hwy speeds but not hard to talk over or turn the radio up. Then there is the space. I can fit an insane amount of stuff in the Fit.

It's the "buzzy at hiway speeds" that we agree with.  Ours is just LOUD.  I think a good chunk of it is the tires that the dealer put on it when we got it with 40K on the clock.  El Cheapo brand.
Wife is hearing impaired, and wears hearing aids, so just "turning up the radio" isn't a great option for her.  Plus, the sound system sucks too.

100% agree on the space though.  TONS of ROOM.

PindyStache

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #27 on: February 14, 2014, 09:20:22 AM »
I doubt it.. Modern airliners are very fuel efficient on an amount of fuel per passenger mile.. about 100 mpg per passenger in fact.

Of course it depends on where your going.. how long the flight is.. airplanes use vastly more fuel when climbing than when cruising.. so a long international flight is much more efficient than going a few hundred miles.

Frank

Yes, the distance would make a difference in the comparison.

It's been a while since I did the research, so don't have any highly qualified links handy and things may have changed since ~2005. But it doesn't make sense to compare a gallon of gasoline to a gallon of jet fuel. The comparison might also depend on how you measure the impact--carbon footprint/greenhouse gas emissions/energy consumed/some other metric. I know for the "how many earths would it take to support us if everyone lived like you" online calculators the amount of flying can greatly change the outcome, and a brief internet search suggests that, especially when carpooling like in this situation, driving is indeed more much more efficient in terms of GHG emission and overall environmental impact.

Exflyboy

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #28 on: February 14, 2014, 09:43:07 AM »
I doubt it.. Modern airliners are very fuel efficient on an amount of fuel per passenger mile.. about 100 mpg per passenger in fact.

Of course it depends on where your going.. how long the flight is.. airplanes use vastly more fuel when climbing than when cruising.. so a long international flight is much more efficient than going a few hundred miles.

Frank

Yes, the distance would make a difference in the comparison.

It's been a while since I did the research, so don't have any highly qualified links handy and things may have changed since ~2005. But it doesn't make sense to compare a gallon of gasoline to a gallon of jet fuel. The comparison might also depend on how you measure the impact--carbon footprint/greenhouse gas emissions/energy consumed/some other metric. I know for the "how many earths would it take to support us if everyone lived like you" online calculators the amount of flying can greatly change the outcome, and a brief internet search suggests that, especially when carpooling like in this situation, driving is indeed more much more efficient in terms of GHG emission and overall environmental impact.

Yes as an engineer and a pilot I should have made the point that Jets burn kerosene which have a lot more carbon molecules per gallon than gasoline does.. Its a bit like making the same mpg comparison between gasoline and diesel.. LOTS more carbon in diesel thus from a carbon footprint perspective burning a gallon of Diesel is much bigger than a gallon of gasoline.

Frank

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #29 on: February 14, 2014, 11:28:07 AM »
Wife is hearing impaired, and wears hearing aids, so just "turning up the radio" isn't a great option for her.  Plus, the sound system sucks too.

How about a good set of over-the-ear headphones for the non-driver?

If time is not a big issue, why not get off I-80 and take more rural roads?  I'm not familiar with that part of the country, but a quick look at the map shows that you could follow the North Platte across most of Nebraska, and find a bunch of smal parks & wildlife areas.  Plus if you're driving at 50-60 instead of 70-80, you cut the road noise and your gas consumption.

lukebuz

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #30 on: February 14, 2014, 11:35:38 AM »
True.  But then you increase the torture time.  I think we'd rather grit out teeth, and get it done :)

Bateaux

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #31 on: February 14, 2014, 05:30:29 PM »
Drive.  I drive everthing under 12 hours away.  Flying is a pain in the azz.  700 miles is nothing in the west.

jpdcpajd

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #32 on: February 14, 2014, 05:56:11 PM »
I grew up in Iowa and we always drove. Straight Thru for several years.  Then we started stoppong in York, Nebraska and spent the night, mainly to break up trip but also to get a great steak at Chances R restautant.

rtrnow

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #33 on: February 15, 2014, 08:12:58 AM »
I'm really surprised at the comments about the Fit being uncomfortable and the suggestions to rent something bigger if needed. I think the Fit is really comfortable. The seats are better on my back than my 45K luxury car I traded (6' male here). The car is a bit buzzy at hwy speeds but not hard to talk over or turn the radio up. Then there is the space. I can fit an insane amount of stuff in the Fit.

It's the "buzzy at hiway speeds" that we agree with.  Ours is just LOUD.  I think a good chunk of it is the tires that the dealer put on it when we got it with 40K on the clock.  El Cheapo brand.
Wife is hearing impaired, and wears hearing aids, so just "turning up the radio" isn't a great option for her.  Plus, the sound system sucks too.

100% agree on the space though.  TONS of ROOM.

I bought mine with 45k miles and the dealer luckily put decent Dunlop tires on mine. Agree on the radio. While not the most mustachian thing, I put a new radio in mine. The speakers are not that bad with a decent head unit and it's an easy DIY install. I also like that Honda included a usb port but hate the location so my radio swap relocated that too.

Fireman

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #34 on: February 15, 2014, 10:15:26 AM »
Agree on the radio. While not the most mustachian thing, I put a new radio in mine.

DIY makes it A OK!

Grateful Stache

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2014, 06:32:55 PM »
This is part vacation, part examination.  I live in Iowa, and my workplace has a location in Boulder, CO.  I want to get out of Iowa, and this area sounds nice.

I lived in Boulder for ten years. Love the town, but it's crazy-expensive to live there.

Cheers.

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #36 on: February 17, 2014, 05:00:13 AM »
DRIVE! Our airport is terrifying. (I'm not even joking)

tfordon

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #37 on: February 17, 2014, 11:07:15 AM »
Kudos on the $0.14 / miles.  I usually estimate $0.28/mile since I do most of the repairs, but not all.

When I try to decide between fly/drive/drive-rental, I like to use the following values:
$.28/mile for driving my car
$.10/mile for driving a rental (just the gas)
$3/person-hour for time spent driving (I kinda like driving actually)
$5/person to go through airport security (I hate going through security, but I'd gladly do it for $5).

I just plug the numbers in and find the best deal.  Obviously, everybody's numbers are a little different; If you really don't like the Honda Fit, you could even have a different cost/hour when driving in it vs. a rental.  Converting everything to dollars makes it a much easier decision.

Jamesqf

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #38 on: February 17, 2014, 12:35:11 PM »
Like the approach, byt you need to add a cost for sitting in airline seats.  So if it's $3/hr for driving, airline sitting would run $10/hr or more.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #39 on: February 17, 2014, 12:42:43 PM »
Car rentals are cheaper if you rent them from an "in town" location instead of at an airport. 

tfordon

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Re: Fly or Drive (Colorado Vacation)
« Reply #40 on: February 17, 2014, 01:25:53 PM »
Like the approach, byt you need to add a cost for sitting in airline seats.  So if it's $3/hr for driving, airline sitting would run $10/hr or more.

Yeah, I should probably charge a premium for airline sitting, since I would much rather be in the car.  I think mine would only be $5, but it should definitely be factored in.  In the OP's case, it sounds like the numbers are reversed.

I think most people's cost/time functions are actually non-linear and slowly grow with additional time.  My real hourly cost for driving/flying slowly increases with each hour stuck in a plane/car. It might be better modeled with something like x*log(x), but a fixed cost/hour is much simpler.  Even something as simple as the cost/mile isn't linear when you factor in a discount rate on the depreciation (i.e you will have to pay for a new car much sooner with additional miles).  I don't want to go too crazy, just something to factor in costs/preferences and come up with an OK solution for me and my travel companions.