Is it Cheaper to Drive or Fly for Summer Vacation?

Planning a summer vacation? If you’re staying within Canada or considering a trip into the US, you may debate whether it’d be cheaper to drive or fly. In this post, we’ll look at the average costs and additional fees of each to help you decide.

Cost of Flying

There are many destinations you can’t drive to. If you’re going overseas, a plane may be your only option for transportation. Within Canada, however, you have a bit of choice.

One-way domestic flights in Canada can start as low as $49, but quickly work up to $100+. The important thing to note is that the initial $49 will end up being much higher once you go through all the service fees.

Additional Fees

Additional fees are often what make airfare more expensive than driving. Here are some examples:

  • Airport improvement fee
  • Federal excise tax
  • Checked luggage
  • Additional carry-on luggage
  • Meals (further fees can apply for those with dietary restrictions)
  • Seat selection
  • Airport shuttle, parking fees, or overnight hotel stay

You won’t have to deal with all of these with every airline, but in most cases, the ones with fewer fees will set higher prices to offset any loss of income.

One of the main benefits of flying is that you’ll save a lot of time on traveling. This gives you more time to enjoy your destination. If your priority is getting to point B quickly, you may prefer to fly despite the likelihood of higher costs.

Cost of Driving

Refill fuel to a car at gas station

If you have your own car, you won’t have to worry about rental fees. You will need to budget for gas, however, which is getting increasingly expensive.

Car rentals range significantly in price depending on many factors, such as the type of vehicle and the duration you rent it for. According to Trip Adviser, the average cost to rent a car in Ontario is $126 per day.

Since summer is peak vacation season, you may experience higher costs than normal for a rental car. Like airfare, car rentals also come with additional fees.

Additional Fees

Although the costs of driving may be lower than the costs of flying, it’s not exactly cheap, and the cost of a rental car can add up quickly. Here are some examples of common fees:

  • Provincial sales tax (where applicable)
  • Additional driver fee
  • Premium location fee (e.g., airports)
  • Young driver fee for those under 25

These fees aren’t universal to all car rental services. Research ahead of time to find the best rate.

You can avoid these fees if you have your own car, but you’ll still need to make sure it’s in good condition to complete a long trip. Perform regular maintenance to catch any issues before you get out on the road. Stay prepared with a first aid kit, as well, to handle any minor accidents along your way.

With an electric vehicle, you’ll spend even less since electricity is much more affordable than gasoline. Some people worry about range anxiety on long journeys with an EV, but if you plan ahead, you shouldn’t have any problems.

The Bottom Line

If you’re planning a domestic vacation in Canada, it’ll likely be cheaper to drive instead of flying. Once you know your destination, compare the costs of flying versus driving and determine if your main priority is timeliness or affordability.

The costs of driving your own car are the lowest and therefore create the best scenario. But if you need to rent, it’ll probably still cost less than a plane ticket. You can make the most of the experience by turning your vacation into a road trip. This way, it’ll feel like your vacation has started before you even reach your destination!