
I hate driving for long periods of time, and I find it painful to sit in a car for more than an hour let alone ten hours. Lucky for me, my girlfriend lives in Atlanta and I live in DC. Instead of driving to see her over her spring break, I chose to fly to see her. To justify my flight expense, I worked out the numbers to see where I stood financially in terms of spending this money on my ticket. The baseline price I was working with was $325.
Costs of Traveling to Atlanta
Had I chosen to drive, the costs would have been as follows: Atlanta is approximately 650 miles away from DC. My car gets about 25 miles a gallon and has a tank capacity of 16 gallons. This means that for each fillup my car can travel 400 miles. Let’s also assume I was finding the cheapest gas rates on the East Coast (~$3.50/gallon) along the way. If I was travelling 1300 miles (650*2), then I would be filling up 1300/400 or 3.25 times. This means that $3.50 x 3.25 fillups x 16 gallons = $182. However, I probably would have just filled my car up four times so the total amount comes to $224. I also did some toll avoiding route research between DC and Atlanta, and found that there were routes that avoided tolls and did not increase the distance I was travelling by a significant margin. Also realistically, I was going to fill up my car 4 times so really the additional mileage was negligible. The total I was playing with now was: $224 (money for gas) – $325 (money for plane ticket) = $101 (how much I was losing)
Renting Out Room When Out of Town
I decided to take it a step further and actually rent out my apartment for the four days I was out using AirBnb.com. It was really easy to set up a profile and I quickly found a guy coming in from the UK who was looking for a place to crash in DC at a very reasonable rate. We agreed that $180 was a good price for 3 days.
This also brought my total to: ($180+$224) – $325 = $79.
I was already in the plus for buying my plane ticket and was even making money as a result of my apartment being freed up for the weekend.
Wear and Tear Costs
Finally, the wear and tear one puts on their car is actually calculated by the federal government per mile and is discounted at .565 cents a mile. This would mean that if I was driving 1300 miles, my car’s value would technically depreciate $734.50. This actually puts me way ahead at:
($224+$180 +$734.5) – $325 = $813.5
After seeing this, I was sitting very easy because I knew I was way in the plus by flying and not driving.
The IRS reimbursement rate you used covers gasoline costs as well, so your last equation should use it instead of your calculated gas expense, rather than in addition. (Also, you mixed up your signs, it’s 56.5 cents, which your math shows you knew)