Travel Math – It Does Not Add Up

Do you remember basic math concepts from your school days? When you add something with positive value the result is more than the original amount. 1+2=3, in other words.

Well, travel math is different.

I just finished planning a trip that flaunted the rules of math. By the way, I was pretty good at math once upon a time. I even discovered and published a math formula in high school.

My new travel math formula is: airfare + car rental < rental car.

That is, I was able to find an airfare plus rental car that was less than the rental car.

Would you like me to explain?

For a 10 day Spring Break trip to South Florida we would usually fly into Ft. Lauderdale. The airfare was over $400 and the car rental was $500. Yikes!

I checked Miami. The car rental was $800 (c’mon Hertz, really?) and the airfare was also over $500.

Then I checked other alternate airports, including Palm Beach, Melbourne, Ft. Myers, Orlando, and Daytona Beach. Nothing better. In fact, some fares were over $500. The best deal was actually Tampa; airfare around $250 and car rental of $300.

Interestingly, I also considered Albuquerque with $250 nonstop flights and a $200 car rental. Speaking of travel math, Travelmath.com is a flight calculator that showed me that Albuquerque is 1,600 miles from my home while Ft. Lauderdale is 900. Airfare prices have nothing to do with distance but we knew that! I also recently booked a flight to Casablanca (4,600 miles) for $421. It is insane that I found cheaper flights to Africa than Florida.

Back to the Florida trip.

Ideally, we want to spend about 5 days near Ft. Lauderdale and 5 days in the Florida Keys. I decided to research airfares into Key West. My experience, however, is that Key West fares were higher. True to form, Key West flights cost over $600.

However, I found a one-way flight to Key West for only $134.

It is slightly complicated but I fly into Key West for $134, get a rental car for $300, and return the rental car to Miami from where I fly home ($200).

To review, I would have had to pay $800 just for the rental car from Miami. Instead, I am paying less than $650 ($134 + $200 + $300) for flights to Key West and from Miami PLUS the rental car from Key West that I return to Miami.

Brilliant! Now I have more time for vacation, as I do not have to drive from Miami to Key West to start my vacation. I begin right there in the Conch Republic.

sunset from Key West, Florida
sunset from Key West, Florida

Note: indeed it would have been about $100 less for the Tampa option but I would have spent at least 8 extra hours driving between Tampa and Miami. I like my choice!

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3 thoughts on “Travel Math – It Does Not Add Up”

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