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July 02, 2021

Which is cheaper: flying or driving?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Even ardent travellers are likely to find their summer excursions hampered by rising gas prices, which are once again averaging more than a dollar a litre. 83% vacationers are changing their travel plans because of the economy — either deciding to take trips at off-peak times or to make their summer vacation more of a staycation.

But if you’re one of the few still hoping to get away, which is cheaper: flying or driving? Although the car rental folks may see it otherwise, unless you’re rolling 3+ deep you might actually come out ahead flying, says the Associated Press. That’s because, compared with driving, taking a plane can prove to be faster, cheaper, and cleaner – as well as safer.

But is this as true on our side of the border?

Clearly, pinpointing the economic sweet spot in the transportation puzzle depends on several factors, including whether there’s actually any low-cost airline competition to be found, what type of vehicle you’re driving, the cost of gas, the wear and tear on your car, and how many people are hitting the road. And then there are all the airport security delays that didn’t exist a few years ago – as well as the environmental impact.

Driving offers a distinct advantage for larger families when it comes to airfares, while additional bodies translate into only a small increase in fuel costs. But what about the value of your time, particularly if you’re traveling solo or as a couple? Plus, no traffic jams. No wrangling over directions. No GPS fadeouts. No switching drivers. No fighting over who gets to plug in which iPod ....

How about you? Where’s the cut off? Do you drive, fly or use a combination of the two?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...