When it comes to airfare, I am sure we all think we have our own secret sauce whether from watching YouTubers, advice from family, friends or simply from experience. With that being said, I find that often times many are not factoring in the TRUE cost of a flight when planning to travel. Below you will find some examples that I hope can help you with your next trip.

When you are looking to book a flight, some travelers have the options for different airports both close and far while searching for the best ‘deal’. I know for myself personally, we probably have a half dozen decent sized regional airports around Kalamazoo, or you can make the 2 hour drive to Detroit or 3 hours to Chicago depending on where you are going. Many are willing to make that drive to save a few bucks, but that is not always the best choice. Let me explain.

For the sake of this discussion, I am going to use my own experience to paint the picture. I am currently traveling North America working through my bucket list. I have a few international places I am interested in going, which I will get to in due time. However, most of my current adventures are domestic.

When you are booking your airfare, you need to keep in mind ALL of the costs associated with your ticket. For myself as a single traveler, I need to consider not only the $15/day parking, but the gas involved in the trip. While it may not be as big an issue on a 45 minute drive north to Grand Rapids from Kalamazoo, it is a much bigger issue on the 2 hour drive, each way, to Detroit and back. This can significantly change the costs with your ticket!

Over the years when I would look at prices out of Kalamazoo, the airfare was almost always more expensive for the ticket and because of this, I would opt to make the drive to one of the other airports thinking I was saving money by doing this. It’s only an hour or two I would tell myself, as I was getting a good deal. However, once I started putting my life into spreadsheets I realized that was not so.

Kalamazoo to Las Vegas: 7 days

AZO — $459.00/Delta

GRR — $320.00/Delta

DTW — $343.00/Delta

I listed lowest/Delta as I prefer to fly Delta when possible because of my credit card and loyalty points for frequent flyer miles, but that is a different blog post that I will discuss later. 😉

I used to look at these fares and say, DTW is the way to go! I will simply drive the 2 hours there, and 2 hours back saving me the almost two hundred dollars right? Wrong!

AZO — $459.00/Delta (dropped off, no parking/gas) = $459.00

GRR — $320.00/Delta + $15/parking x 7 + $20/gas = $445.00

DTW — $343.00/Delta ($15/parking x 7 + $40/gas = $488.00

Now you can see once the TRUE cost of the flight is added up, that not only is it cheaper to leave from the local regional airport, but it’s also more convenient. You do not have a long drive home after a travel day, nor to fuss with parking and such. Whether you take an Uber, or a friend/family come and pick you up, it’s simply a better option.

This discussion point has come up many times with friends asking why I leave from the, “most expensive” regional airport versus the metro. Once I explain the true costs as I laid out above, they come to see that it is often times simply better to use the local airport since the saving is marginal once you factor in parking and gas. Not to mention often times you are going to eat either going in, or coming out, which is an additional associated cost.

I find that many simply do not look at these other charges associated with travel, and that can really save them both time and money making the travel experience so much more enjoyable without the long drive hassles.

Hopefully this has helped you as well, so that when comparing the different airfare options, you see it from a different light allowing you a better overall experience. Traveling can be stressful, and this is an easy way to eliminate some of it (traffic, security, parking).