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AAA Online Fuel Cost Calculator

If you had the choice between flying and driving, what you chose depended on your situation. If you had time but little money, you chose to drive. If you had money but little time, you chose to fly. Now it’s trickier, driving is more expensive with higher gas prices (and increased tolls) than it used to be and so the decision wasn’t as clear cut as that. Check out AAA’s Online Fuel Cost Calculator [3] and you will appreciate its simplicity and its usefulness.

The tool breaks down the United States into eight sections, each with its own average fuel cost. You select a origination point (major city), a destination (also must be a major city), and then the details of your vehicle. They add a little explanation how the calculation is made:

Using current gasoline prices from AAA’s daily, online Fuel Gauge Report, as well as the latest highway fuel economy ratings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the AAA Fuel Cost Calculator estimates the amount and cost of gasoline needed to complete a vacation trip. Although the total number of miles driven and prices paid for gasoline during your trip may vary from the estimates provided, the AAA Fuel Cost Calculator is intended to help you determine the cost of fuel needed to complete a vacation drive.

Click calculate and this is the information it provided for my vehicle, 2003 Toyota Celica, for a trip from Baltimore, MD to New York City, NY. (formatted differently)

Start City: MD, Baltimore
End City: NY, New York City
One Way 193 Miles
Gallons Used: 6.43
Fuel Cost: $21.07
Round-Trip 386 Miles
Gallons Used: 12.86
Fuel Cost: $42.14

The drive takes about three hours, about the same time it takes to fly (including getting to the airport, waiting, actual flight, etc), and the tolls along the way are over $20 (and even more if you don’t have EZPass). That puts the total driving cost (round trip) at approximately $84.14. A Southwest flight from BWI to Islip, Long Island (nearest to where my parent’s live and an hour away from New York City) can usually be purchased for a mere $90.

Right now, the cost of flying and driving is the same (not amortizing the maintenance costs of the car and other little things like that) and safer (flying is statistically safer than driving [4]).