Fly vs Drive: Break even point

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Lower Hudson Valley
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    Fly vs Drive: Break even point

    For going out west that is.

    A flight, even with connection, at its worst, takes just a day each way. Driving, it's 3 to Colorado and 5 to California, times two for the round trip.

    Yes, it's easy to calculate the cost of fly+rental car <> gas + vehicle depreciation + meal/lodging (non-skiing part of the trip).



    But that's money, the easy part to put a value on.

    What about time? Time spend on the road is time NOT skiing. Even if you're retired, not limited by yearly vacation days. How many days do you need to be staying out there before you contemplate driving instead of flying?

    On the plus side, driving means you don't have to guess and commit in advance to the flight coming back. And you can bring the kitchen sink too!

  2. #2
    Drive east, fly west.

    And as much as I never want to "commit" to a flight home, work wouldn't like it too much if I decided I wanted to stay another week.
    2003-2004: 21; 2004-2005: 27; 2005-2006: 31; 2006-2007: 31; 2007-2008: 38; 2008-2009: 43; 2009-2010: 42; 2010-2011: 46; 2011-2012: 33; 2012-2013: 26 2013-14: 18; 2014-15: 17; 2015-16: 7; 2016-17: 14; 2017-18: 23; 2018-19: 34

    2019-20 days - 23
    Wachusett: 11/15, 11/21, 12/5, 3/15
    Stratton: 11/26; Mt. Snow: 12/3; Killington: 12/8, 3/2
    Sunday River: 1/21, 1/28; Snow King: 2/9
    Jackson Hole: 2/10, 2/11, 2/12, 2/13, 2/14
    Sugarloaf 2/23, 2/24, 2/25; Waterville: 3/17
    Sugarbush: 3/8, 3/9 (w/MRG), 3/10

  3. #3
    kingslug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Stamford Ct and Stowe
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    5,062
    Fly west..drive East..
    I do hate flying now..
    Lets go!
    I'll drive.

  4. #4
    With an ikon or epic and 3 or more weeks I would probably drive personally. Less than that I would fly. I've probably made this drive 25 times probably...its longer than you think but if you have more than 1 driver it can happen quick...Colorado in 2 and California in 3. It's a love/hate thing with me. That first view of the front range after dropping down to Denver's on 76 is the best sight ever!

  5. #5
    Hawk's Avatar
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    Nov 2016
    Location
    Mad River Valley / MA
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    930
    I would never, ever drive out west unless it was for the season and I needed the car to drive all over the place. The cost of 2+ oil changes, maintenance and 18+ tanks of gas alone is more than a flight. (Based on Boston to Squaw Valley) Plus the lost time on the road. I hate all those hours in flat ass places like Kansas, Oklahoma and eastern Colorado. Nope won't do it.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Hawk View Post
    I would never, ever drive out west unless it was for the season and I needed the car to drive all over the place. The cost of 2+ oil changes, maintenance and 18+ tanks of gas alone is more than a flight. (Based on Boston to Squaw Valley) Plus the lost time on the road. I hate all those hours in flat ass places like Kansas, Oklahoma and eastern Colorado. Nope won't do it.
    What are you driving that takes 18 tanks of gas! I fill up maybe 5 or 6 times. It's one oil change for me as well.

    Denver's is 2k. Salt lake 2.5 and tahoe 31ish

  7. #7
    This is why I bought a cheap used 2009 Rav4 with 30,000 miles. Cost of wear and tear on that vehicle couldn't be lower.

    Flying sucks! Between the missed flights, cancelled flights, getting stranded, flying through thunderstorms and other seemingly near death experiences I've had enough. I'll pass on breathing in someone's coronavirus sneeze while I'm at it.

    Luckily for me I like skiing the East better in most ways anyway.


    Hawk's road trip vehicle?

    Husky_armoured_vehicle.jpg
    2019/2020 season

    Berkshire East [12/20, 1/7, 1/10, 1/22, 1/24]
    Bretton Woods [1/3, 1/30]
    Cannon [2/19]
    Gunstock [1/2]
    Mad River Glen [1/29, 2/11]
    Magic [3/1, 3/8]
    Mount Snow [11/14, 11/21, 12/2]
    Pico [2/23]
    Smugglers Notch [2/12]
    Wachusett [12/16]

  8. #8
    So I am the madman that drives from Wash DC to the Rockies to ski almost yearly since 2000. Here is why.

    I am more motivated than New Englanders to get to better skiing. I will always have great memories of mid-Atlantic skiing. But the mtns are small. VT can be great skiing if weather permits, but is one full day of driving from me. CO has almost always great ski conditions in midwinter and is two full days of driving from me. Over my 50+ years of skiing I've probably done more driving trips to New England, but over the last 20 years more to Rockies to ski.

    I have done about ten-twelve drives from DC to CO for a week of skiing (drive two, ski five or six, drive two). I've done about five for destinations further than CO, but for longer than one week.

    Unlike some of you, I love to do cross country drives. All my life my jobs kept me tied to a desk, but I also always had a decent amount of vacation time. The highway represents adventure. The traffic is generally light and I take southerly routes through MD, WV, KY, MO, KS that are rarely messed up by snowy roads. The anticipation keeps me alert through the flat Midwest, the scenery keeps me alert in the Rockies and beyond. The return drive provides time to rest sore muscles, reflect over good times, and think about the next trip. Usually I've had driving partners and take turns driving, making it a breeze. In 1976 I drove solo on my college spring break to CO for the first time. Slept in my car multiple nights. This ski-road stuff is part of my personal ski history.

    I am not particularly fond of flying, esp earlier in life. I flew from DC to UT about 8 times in last five years for one-week visits and it was fine, but not without hassles.

    I am retired now, so when I drive out I stay for months, not days. I drove solo this Jan from DC to Denver in two days without thinking twice about it. Set me up for four nice ski days in CO, then I continued further west. Will return to DC in a few months. Wife will accompany on return trip, which we may break up by visiting friends along the way.

    Having said above, I recognize that for most Easterners it makes complete sense timewise and moneywise to fly for ski trips of 3 to 7 days in duration that involve a destination further away than one day of driving. Caveat: in 2003 I took my family of six for a ten day trip to CO by minivan, there was considerable savings on that trip by driving and not paying for six airfares and one week minivan rental. But the long drive was not too fun with four kids between age 9-18.

    Probably my most ambitious ski-road trip in recent years was 2018 winter trip from DC to UT to WY to BC to DC, 7000 miles in three weeks. Too much driving, but all went well and included my first ever visits to Revy and Banff areas and was a very memorable trip.

    PS: as mentioned by ABC in another thread, I have rose colored glasses with anything to do with skiing and that has also impacted my willingness to endure long drives.
    Last edited by jimk; Mar 5, 2020 at 7:43 AM.

  9. #9

    Join Date
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    The monetary break even point is fairly easy to calculate. It may differ depends on vehicle, but not by that much.

    Granted, in that calculation, the flight cost has a hidden factor. You can't just compare with a bargain flight you buy 3 month in advance. You'll be buying the flight with 2-3 days notice, vs get in the car and drive the 3 days. The difference is bigger there.

    Having done a 3 month road trip a few years back, I know the feeling of driving through the flatlands was positively soul destroying. And the thought I had to do the reverse was almost impossible to bear. More over, although I was able to cart more of my ski gear with me in the car, I didn't use the rest of them enough to justify that as a benefit.

    But on the plus side though, the feeling of freedom to shorten or extend the trip as I please was quite liberating. Without my own car, every extra week I stay out there would cost >$300 on top of the other expenses. Not ruinous. But a psychological barrier. And I would lose the option to just head home on a moment's notice.

  10. #10
    Hawk's Avatar
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    Nov 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by snoseek View Post
    What are you driving that takes 18 tanks of gas! I fill up maybe 5 or 6 times. It's one oil change for me as well.

    Denver's is 2k. Salt lake 2.5 and tahoe 31ish
    Subaru Outback - 330 miles to the tank, 3000 Miles Boston to Squaw = 9 tanks x 2 = 18+ tanks & 2 oil changes (Both directions like a round trip flight) Driving = $1,000 Flights $600 to $900. Flight 5-6 hours Driving 3 days min.

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