Smart Shopper: Will I save more flying or driving for the holidays?

Smart Shopper

Comparing the expenses that go along with both to determine the best option for you

Millions of Americans will hit the road and the skies for Thanksgiving, but if you’re trying to save money, what’s the best way to get to your destination? For many, it comes down to flying or driving.

If you drive, some costs you’ll want to consider are gas, food, hotel, and tolls. Some pros of driving are you don’t have to worry about bag fees and weight, and you can set your own schedule. The cons are putting miles on your vehicle, fluctuating gas prices, and spending potentially more time getting to your destination.

If you’re traveling with a large group, driving could be cheaper than flying. If your destination is within around eight hours driving distance, you may not need to get a hotel room.

If you fly, you will need to consider expenses like baggage fees, the cost of taxis or airport parking, eating at the airport, and potentially renting a vehicle. One of the biggest pros of flying is saving time — getting to your destination faster than you could in a car and without wear and tear on your vehicle. Although keep in mind, the flight is quicker than driving, be sure to factor in the time you spend at the airport before and after the flight. The downside of flying is tickets can be expensive, there could be delays or layovers, and you have to follow luggage guidelines.

If you’re on the fence about how to get to your destination, start looking at airline ticket prices, and make a list of the expenses that will accompany that. If you decide to get a plane ticket, experts say now is the time to book. Prices will only increase the closer we get to the holidays. You can use tools like Skyscanner, Google Flights, or AirfareWatchdog to track the prices of flights and set it up so you are alerted if prices go down.

If you decide to drive, tools like Gas Buddy can help you estimate gas costs and even hotel costs for your trip.

According to a report from, folks who fly this Thanksgiving will spend an average of $822, and folks who fly in December are predicted to spend, on average, right over $1000.

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