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Author Topic: The calculation to fly or drive  (Read 691 times)

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sevenof400

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The calculation to fly or drive
« on: June 21, 2017, 12:15:46 am »

Most of the time when we've taken vacations, the decision to fly or drive was fairly straightforward due to time constraints or the distance to be traveled.  This year is different as both options are in play.  With that in mind, I thought I'd do an actual estimate of costs using numbers as realistic as possible.  For example, how much does it cost to drive a vehicle - the total cost - not just the cost of fuel?

I found a resource from AAA suggesting the total cost per mile is somewhere between 60 and 75 cents per mile for most vehicles.  Doing the math, I was quite surprised how much I was depreciating my vehicle for a typical vacation. 

I bring this up because in considering trip expenditure in this manner showed I had significantly underestimated the actual costs related to driving a car.  The threshold on whether to drive or fly moved significantly toward more flying.

Just curious if anyone else was thinking along these lines and what you have discovered and / or determined...
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Inhogswetrust

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2017, 08:22:14 am »

My general rule of thumb is IF the trip would be over six hours to drive I generally fly instead depending on if the air fare is reasonable. That sometimes depends on where I'm going and what I'm planning to do when there also. For full disclosure though we are able to fly ZED via my wife's employment at FedEx. That gives us a good discount.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2017, 01:43:51 pm by Inhogswetrust »
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Boarcephus

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2017, 10:17:03 am »

Anymore, I just hate to fly.  The minute you check your luggage you're a hostage of the airlines.  You may get back on time or hours or even a day late.  They're continually shrinking the length of the leg room and width of the seats and invariably some dick in front of you tilts that mother all the way back all of which makes for a miserable trip.  If we can get there by car, we drive because we have the time. 
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sevenof400

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2017, 10:55:34 am »

I hear you Boarcephus and I'm right there with you.  One mitigating aspect of airline travel from Little Rock is as a regional airport, schedules in / out of Little Rock don't seem to be as impacted by delays as slightly larger cities.  If one has to fly, departing / arriving at Little Rock is reasonably consistent.  It's the larger airports you have to connect though or return from where delays are more likely to bite you.  Still, your description is spot on. 

To extend my OP a bit further, if you consider that many popular travel destinations are over 1000 miles from Arkansas let's say the typical driving vacation from Arkansas means 2500 miles on your vehicle. 

60 cents per mile * 2500 miles = $1,500 worth of wear, tear and depreciation on your vehicle.
Even at the inflated cost of air travel these days, I can fly two people to many places for a lot less than $1,500, rent a vehicle, and extend the life of my vehicles.  I guess my point is the rule of thumb by Inhogswetrust is looking pretty accurate. 

   
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Boarcephus

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2017, 04:31:07 pm »

60 cents per mile * 2500 miles = $1,500 worth of wear, tear and depreciation on your vehicle.
Even at the inflated cost of air travel these days, I can fly two people to many places for a lot less than $1,500, rent a vehicle, and extend the life of my vehicles.  I guess my point is the rule of thumb by Inhogswetrust is looking pretty accurate. 

What a lot of people are doing these days is renting a car for the longer trips and saving the wear and tear on theirs.  I know my brothers company lets them rent one when they travel more than 100 miles out. 

We're headed back out to the San Francisco are next year and haven't decided what we'll do.  We retired last year so we have the time but still, that is two long days with nothing to see the first day.  ;)  I'm sure we'll probably fly but I want the most direct route.  Going out last time we went from fayetteville to Houston to Phoenix to San Fran.  Coming home we went from San Fran to Denver to here.  World of difference. 
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HawgWild

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2017, 05:27:36 pm »


60 cents per mile * 2500 miles = $1,500 worth of wear, tear and depreciation on your vehicle.

So a $30,000 car is worth $0 after 50,000 miles?
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sevenof400

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2017, 09:16:25 pm »

So a $30,000 car is worth $0 after 50,000 miles?

Now I know where you're going with this....but you've applied all of this toward depreciation which is not what this was suggesting.  Out of that $1,500 in the example, some portion of that will apply to maintenance for example, and some to the depreciation of the vehicle (and other aspects).     

Even when fully depreciated (or depreciated about as much as it can), your car still has value if it is still meeting your transportation needs.  The point I was trying to make here is that I'd never really considered how much life/value/etc a vacation trip can suck out of a car and that maybe it would be a smarter move financially to fly and rent a vehicle on trips shorter (in length) than I originally thought.

But yeah, you've kind of got me there HawgWild.....
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sevenof400

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2017, 09:18:05 pm »

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HawgWild

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2017, 12:23:28 pm »

If you back out the finance and insurance costs then it comes to around $.46 a mile to drive a sedan 15,000 miles annually.

For my wife and I, we really have no desire to fly anywhere any more. It's cut down on the places we visit but we did do a trip up to Nova Scotia in 2014 which my wife says she'll never do that again. I now look for places to drive within a 1,000 mile radius of home. We did fudge a bit with a drive to Sedona and another to Sanibel.
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sevenof400

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2017, 12:31:42 pm »

If you back out the finance and insurance costs then it comes to around $.46 a mile to drive a sedan 15,000 miles annually.

For my wife and I, we really have no desire to fly anywhere any more. It's cut down on the places we visit but we did do a trip up to Nova Scotia in 2014 which my wife says she'll never do that again. I now look for places to drive within a 1,000 mile radius of home. We did fudge a bit with a drive to Sedona and another to Sanibel.

I have to imagine that was quite a drive but I bet that had to be a memorable trip.  I've never been to the NE U.S. and on into Canada there - though I have been to Canada through Detroit / Windsor and on to Niagra Falls. 
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HawgWild

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2017, 12:47:28 pm »

I neglected to mention that we travel with a small dog that can't be boarded and we've not found a reliable house sitter. He's been to 29 states and three Canadian provinces so far. If we were to fly with him then it would be in first class and that costs substantially more.
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majestic

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2017, 11:40:00 am »

What a lot of people are doing these days is renting a car for the longer trips and saving the wear and tear on theirs.  I know my brothers company lets them rent one when they travel more than 100 miles out. 

We're headed back out to the San Francisco are next year and haven't decided what we'll do.  We retired last year so we have the time but still, that is two long days with nothing to see the first day.  ;)  I'm sure we'll probably fly but I want the most direct route.  Going out last time we went from fayetteville to Houston to Phoenix to San Fran.  Coming home we went from San Fran to Denver to here.  World of difference. 

You can fly direct to SF from XNA. Coming back you can't, though.
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hog.goblin

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2017, 09:23:43 pm »

We just drove from Fayettenam to California.  Wasn't too bad.  It depends on the travel time each day and the vehicle you drive.  We'll likely hit 3,300 miles by the time we get back.

If it was my wife and I flying would have been the answer.  But not for a family of 5. 
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sevenof400

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2017, 10:29:37 pm »

We just drove from Fayettenam to California.  Wasn't too bad.  It depends on the travel time each day and the vehicle you drive.  We'll likely hit 3,300 miles by the time we get back.

If it was my wife and I flying would have been the answer.  But not for a family of 5.

Exactly why we quit flying for a number of years given the outrageous cost for one plane fare - then times 5?  Forget it. 
Now we're back to just two - much more manageable.  Especially given that our other expenses are declining too (see food bill!).

I do think we've hit that point in life where we will fly more now probably because in addition to the previous note, we're going places we've never been before and these tend to be further away. 
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hawgrunner

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2017, 12:13:33 am »

We just drove from Fayettenam to California.  Wasn't too bad.  It depends on the travel time each day and the vehicle you drive.  We'll likely hit 3,300 miles by the time we get back.

If it was my wife and I flying would have been the answer.  But not for a family of 5. 

Good call there.
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bennyl08

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2017, 12:36:08 pm »

I drove 8500 miles on a single trip back in 2010 over about 5 weeks. Had to get an oil change. Long drives are not that bad on your car. I'd venture that driving 1000 miles on the highway results in less wear and tear than 300 miles in the city.

Average person drives 10-12k miles a year with most of that being city driving. You don't lose 6,000+ of value on your car per year. I know those aren't your numbers, but the numbers they use, I call bs. They are making a lot of assumptions that I doubt are valid in any but a few cases.

To the OP,

You can watch movies, read a book, do work, etc... if you take a train or a plane. Driving, you are busy driving the whole time.

Driving, you have a lot more control. Want to pack whatever you want? Do it. Want to detour and take this 5 mile hike that looks cool? You can.

For example, I took a 6hr train to get where I wanted in Norway, but then rented a car when there. The train was faster and cheaper than driving and mostly plain terrain. But at my destination, lots of mountains, fjords, and glaciers to play on so I wanted more control than say taking a bus.
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wholehog

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2017, 04:06:54 pm »

You can fly direct to SF from XNA. Coming back you can't, though.
I flew nonstop both ways on United last October. 
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Inhogswetrust

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2017, 01:48:29 pm »

What a lot of people are doing these days is renting a car for the longer trips and saving the wear and tear on theirs.  I know my brothers company lets them rent one when they travel more than 100 miles out. 

We're headed back out to the San Francisco are next year and haven't decided what we'll do.  We retired last year so we have the time but still, that is two long days with nothing to see the first day.  ;)  I'm sure we'll probably fly but I want the most direct route.  Going out last time we went from fayetteville to Houston to Phoenix to San Fran.  Coming home we went from San Fran to Denver to here.  World of difference. 

Not sure where you live but if in eastern or central Arkansas then drive over to Memphis and you can get a cheap fare to fly to SF with only one stop. Most of the time you can get cheaper flights with only one stop to San Jose also. Then less than an hour depending on traffic to downtown SF.
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Boarcephus

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2017, 05:58:24 pm »

Not sure where you live but if in eastern or central Arkansas then drive over to Memphis and you can get a cheap fare to fly to SF with only one stop. Most of the time you can get cheaper flights with only one stop to San Jose also. Then less than an hour depending on traffic to downtown SF.

Appreciate it but we're in Fayetteville.  When we head back we'll check what's available but I will not go to SF by way of Houston ever again.   
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Inhogswetrust

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2017, 02:32:10 pm »

Appreciate it but we're in Fayetteville.  When we head back we'll check what's available but I will not go to SF by way of Houston ever again.   

I'm not sure about prices and connections but maybe drive over to Tulsa to fly. I know before XNA was built a lot of people in northwest Arkansas did that.
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majestic

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2017, 04:43:30 pm »

Appreciate it but we're in Fayetteville.  When we head back we'll check what's available but I will not go to SF by way of Houston ever again.   

I'm sitting in the Houston Airport right now. I'll not go through it again if I can avoid it. The TSA agents are complete pricks.
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hog.goblin

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2017, 09:17:51 pm »

I'm not sure about prices and connections but maybe drive over to Tulsa to fly. I know before XNA was built a lot of people in northwest Arkansas did that.

True, we fly out of TUL as much or more than XNA
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sevenof400

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2017, 09:46:20 am »

True, we fly out of TUL as much or more than XNA

I don't know if this is true anymore or not, but on a vacation several years ago we drove to Tulsa to fly to San Francisco and it was much cheaper than departing from Little Rock or Memphis.  I was told the reason for this is the U.S. is divided into zones for air travel pricing.  Tulsa was just inside the eastern border of a zone that stretched to the west.  Somewhere between Tulsa and Little Rock the zone changes.

Even if this is not the case anymore, it is still worth checking open pricing to/from alternate airports when your travel plans allow for some flexibility. 
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TomasPistola

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2017, 12:04:58 pm »

If you're concerned with depreciation on your vehicle, rent one for long trips.
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sevenof400

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #24 on: July 05, 2017, 08:59:01 am »

If you're concerned with depreciation on your vehicle, rent one for long trips.

That is definitely our plan since we figure we might be putting over 4000 miles on this next trip.  With that many miles to drive and considering our destination (Utah), I didn't take too long to make the decision to rent a vehicle.  There is wear and tear over 4000 miles and then there is wear and tear over 4000 miles given the desert, mountains, and heat.......
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je100

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #25 on: July 10, 2017, 12:49:35 pm »

We just drove from Fayettenam to California.  Wasn't too bad.  It depends on the travel time each day and the vehicle you drive.  We'll likely hit 3,300 miles by the time we get back.

If it was my wife and I flying would have been the answer.  But not for a family of 5. 

My family of five flew out of Springfield, Mo to LAX for a grand total of $1,383. 

Compared to driving at 3,200 miles round trip amounts to about $400 in fuel.  Throw in a couple of nights stay, round trip at $150 apiece.  Add meals and nick-nacks, and you're easily at $1,000 driving round trip.  Wouldn't be worth the $383 savings to me.  Los Angeles is one of the cheapest places to fly to, from this area.
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hawgrunner

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #26 on: July 17, 2017, 11:44:46 am »

My family of five flew out of Springfield, Mo to LAX for a grand total of $1,383

Compared to driving at 3,200 miles round trip amounts to about $400 in fuel.  Throw in a couple of nights stay, round trip at $150 apiece.  Add meals and nick-nacks, and you're easily at $1,000 driving round trip.  Wouldn't be worth the $383 savings to me.  Los Angeles is one of the cheapest places to fly to, from this area.


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hog.goblin

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #27 on: July 17, 2017, 08:09:31 pm »

My family of five flew out of Springfield, Mo to LAX for a grand total of $1,383. 

Compared to driving at 3,200 miles round trip amounts to about $400 in fuel.  Throw in a couple of nights stay, round trip at $150 apiece.  Add meals and nick-nacks, and you're easily at $1,000 driving round trip.  Wouldn't be worth the $383 savings to me.  Los Angeles is one of the cheapest places to fly to, from this area.

That's a heckuva deal.  Right now those same flights from Springfield would cost my family of five $3,100; plus long term parking, plus a car rental.
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Inhogswetrust

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #28 on: July 18, 2017, 05:54:59 pm »

Anymore, I just hate to fly.  The minute you check your luggage you're a hostage of the airlines.  You may get back on time or hours or even a day late.  They're continually shrinking the length of the leg room and width of the seats and invariably some dick in front of you tilts that mother all the way back all of which makes for a miserable trip.  If we can get there by car, we drive because we have the time. 

I RARELY check because of the time it takes at the baggage claim. But to their credit the've only lost my checked baggage twice in 60 years. They brought it to me when they found it.
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je100

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #29 on: July 19, 2017, 10:54:03 am »

That's a heckuva deal.  Right now those same flights from Springfield would cost my family of five $3,100; plus long term parking, plus a car rental.

When planning a trip, I usually start off with the flight because costs vary so much.  For example, you can book a round trip flight from Springfield to LAX on September 16 and come back on Sept 27th for $217 per person today.  Have to be flexible though.

https://www.google.com/flights/#search;f=HRO,SGF,XNA;t=LAX,BUR,LGB;d=2017-09-16;r=2017-09-27;sel=SGFLAX0G4319,LAXSGF0G4318
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oldfart

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2017, 09:32:59 pm »

You can fly direct to SF from XNA. Coming back you can't, though.
I flew nonstop both ways on United last October. 

i flew direct from SF to xna on my way back from thailand last fall....  not sure if still flying that route
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vandybuff

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #31 on: August 03, 2017, 10:39:04 am »

Most of the time when we've taken vacations, the decision to fly or drive was fairly straightforward due to time constraints or the distance to be traveled.  This year is different as both options are in play.  With that in mind, I thought I'd do an actual estimate of costs using numbers as realistic as possible.  For example, how much does it cost to drive a vehicle - the total cost - not just the cost of fuel?

I found a resource from AAA suggesting the total cost per mile is somewhere between 60 and 75 cents per mile for most vehicles.  Doing the math, I was quite surprised how much I was depreciating my vehicle for a typical vacation. 

I bring this up because in considering trip expenditure in this manner showed I had significantly underestimated the actual costs related to driving a car.  The threshold on whether to drive or fly moved significantly toward more flying.

Just curious if anyone else was thinking along these lines and what you have discovered and / or determined...

Nerd to the rescue :)  I think if you consider the opportunity cost of the overall picture, the auto will cost you about $0.50 / mile. 
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hog.goblin

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2017, 12:33:34 pm »

Nerd to the rescue :)  I think if you consider the opportunity cost of the overall picture, the auto will cost you about $0.50 / mile. 

The IRS calculates it at 53.5 cents a mile for 2017.  They will have differences in opinions, but I think it confirms about 50 cents is a solid number to cover gas, wear and tear, and depreciation.
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vandybuff

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Re: The calculation to fly or drive
« Reply #33 on: August 03, 2017, 01:31:58 pm »

The IRS calculates it at 53.5 cents a mile for 2017.  They will have differences in opinions, but I think it confirms about 50 cents is a solid number to cover gas, wear and tear, and depreciation.

Thank you
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