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Why day-tripping via plane is totally worth it

Dec. 15, 2019
6 min read
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I know this sounds totally odd, but hear me out: taking a day trip via plane is the newest, best way to do it. Ok, admittedly this isn't a one-size-fits-all solution -- no one is taking a day trip from San Francisco to New York -- but there are a lot of reasons why your next outing should be by plane. Let's explore why:

Heading home after a day trip to Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan. Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.
Heading home after a day trip to Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan. Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.

It gets you farther

This one is pretty easy to understand. Simply put, you can go a lot farther via plane than other modes of travel. So far I've successfully used air travel to do a day trip twice. Once I flew from Southern California to Northern California to visit my brother for his birthday, and another time my husband and I flew from Almaty, Kazakhstan, to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for a day-long city tour.

In both cases these trips wouldn't have been possible if we had tried to travel via car or train, with trip times taking up to six hours vs just fifty minutes on a plane:

Note that although flights are blocked for an hour and a half, it actually takes under an hour.
Note that although flights are blocked for an hour and a half, it actually takes under an hour for this flight.

In places like California, early departure times and late return times mean that you can spend tons of time on the ground. For me, it meant spending a full day at a theme park celebrating a birthday before heading home (wiped out), happy that I got to spend that time with my family.

It's easy

While flying isn't stress-free for everyone (or anyone, really), those of us who fly frequently have developed travel habits that make airports pretty easy. And when you're just day-tripping? It gets even simpler. No checked bags means no need to head to the counter. It's similar to many business travelers. Not needing to drag a vacation's worth of clothing means you can waltz right in. For me? I check-in on my phone, head through TSA PreCheck, and make a beeline for the lounge to grab a few snacks before boarding. It's about as stressless as airline travel can be.

Flying in for my brother's birthday meant happy family memories. Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.
Flying in for my brother's birthday meant happy family memories. Photo by Carissa Rawson/The Points Guy.

While traveling in other countries, it can actually make cross-border travel much simpler. Take, for example, my recent trip to Central Asia. I managed a day-trip to Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan, landing in Bishkek early in the day where heading through immigration was smooth and efficient. As the nation's capital, Bishkek Airport sees a lot of traffic. The land border, on the other hand? It's a convoluted affair in which you must depart from your Kazakh taxi, wait in lines through border, hope you get in, and hope you can find a Kyrgyz taxi on the other side.

Similarly, the land border crossing between countries with tensions is also difficult. A trip to Jordan from Israel is painful, with barbed wire, intense scrutiny and hours of waiting to get across the border. In contrast, a flight from Tel Aviv to Amman takes 45 minutes and Jordanian immigration happily sells you your visa when you land. It's simple.

It's cheap

Depending on where you're going, it can actually be cheaper to fly than drive. In the case of my above trip to Bishkek, a cab ride from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan rang in at $250 round-trip, while a flight was only $130. And while I recognize that it's not cheap in either case, I definitely saved money flying instead of driving.

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Even better, for those of us with points and miles, flying can mean that your day trip actually ends up being, well, free. This is especially true for international travel overseas, where you can take advantage of airline award charts to fly for cheap -even with miles. Take, for example, British Airways' partner flight with Royal Jordanian from Tel Aviv to Amman:

While $237 doesn't exactly look cheap for taxes and fees, it's much better than the cash cost of this notoriously expensive ticket:

This is especially valuable for time-strapped travelers wanting to maximize their vacations (I'm looking at you, American corporations who only give their workers two weeks of vacation per year).

It's rewarding

Similar to the above, using a plane vs a train or car can be much more rewarding. Why? Because massive, international airline alliances mean most airlines you fly are going to earn you miles. The same can't be said for your cab ride, unfortunately. Even better? If you hold certain cards, like the The Platinum Card® from American Express (which has a $695 annual fee. See rates and fees.), you can double-dip your earnings and score 5x rewards on your airline purchase (must be purchased directly with the airline and on up to $500,000 per calendar year) in addition to airline miles. As an elite on Star Alliance, I'm going to head for the plane ride every time.

Bottom line

Day-tripping via plane isn't for every occasion, or even every person. But there are so many circumstances where heading out for the day on a plane is a great idea- from speedier travel to free flights, it's time to consider a flight for your next adventure out.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023