Rising ticket prices, fewer daily flights, fuller planes, limited baggage, fewer non-stops and longer layovers between connecting flights doesn't paint a pretty picture for this summer's vacationing families thinking about flying.
Even if gas prices hit $5 a gallon, the traditional family summer vacation by vehicle costs less, is more convenient and is not as stressful as flying. The cost for a family of four traveling by car is about the same as one person traveling by air.
Based on a family of four traveling 1,000 miles round-trip, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association compared the cost of flying vs. driving:
By air: A family of four traveling by air will spend $1,324 for tickets, based on 2007 fourth quarter statistics from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The total airline ticket cost is conservative considering that airline ticket prices have increased several times since December. Add to this cost, transportation to and from the airport and/or parking.
By vehicle: If gasoline prices were $5 a gallon, the cost for a family of four traveling by SUV would be $314. This number not only includes the cost of gasoline, but also includes tire wear and maintenance based on the American Automobile Association's (AAA's) vehicle operating costs.
Besides the obvious direct cost savings, going by car offers a number of advantages over flying, including:
*Leave when you want from where you want.
*No airport parking.
*No waiting in long ticket counter and security lines.
*No weather delays.
*Pack whatever and as much as you want.
*Stop and stretch any time.
*More and better meal options.
*No rental car or taxi expenses.
*More legroom and overall comfort.
*No strangers sitting next to you.
*Take your pet.
*Enjoy the ride.
Before you hit the road, make sure your vehicle is in proper working condition.