Lifestyle Inflation: Ubering to the Airport

I realized last month that Uber has become my default mode of transit to and from the airport – to the point that it doesn’t even cross my mind that there are other possibilities! Confession: We spent $175.64 getting to and from the airport last month (4 rides), which is as much as we spent on one plane ticket! I can’t believe I’ve let my lifestyle inflate to this degree – I’m so embarrassed!



This lifestyle creep all started with my speaking engagement travel. In the first year of my business, I commuted to and from the airport by whatever means was most reasonable and cost-efficient for the particular trip: public transit (bus and light rail), taxi, Uber, or my own car. Some of my clients were particularly cost-sensitive so I did my best to minimize my travel costs. But in my second year, after DPR was born, I started Ubering just about all of the time. (At least I wasn’t taking taxis any longer!) I wanted to leave our car at home in case DPR needed transportation somewhere so driving and parking was out. I largely stopped using public transit because my flights were nearly always very early in the morning or very late at night when the buses do not run frequently. Ubering is fast and convenient and doesn’t seem to bother my clients, so it became my default mode of transit.


The bad part of all of this is that we let my business travel habits bleed over into our personal travel habits. The first two times we traveled with DPR, we carefully considered our travel needs when deciding how to get to and from the airport. On our first trip we didn’t need to bring her car seat, so we used public transit to get to and from the airport. On our second trip we did need the car seat and didn’t want to lug it on public transit, so we Ubered. By the time we traveled in April with the car seat, all thought of using public transit was gone and the fees really racked up.


A better plan would have been to judiciously use Uber when we needed expediency (one leg only) and use public transit the rest of the time. We arrived home from our trips right around DPR’s typical bedtime, and while it wouldn’t have been ideal she could have slept on public transit. Had we followed this plan, we would have spent only $55.09 on ground transit to and from the airport. We also could have considered parking at the airport. At $30/day, airport parking is approximately as expensive as Ubering for a long weekend; however, there are off-airport lots (that we’ve never used) that are less expensive.


Last month’s Uber expenses were a big wake-up call. It’s so easy to spend money through the app that we were dulling the pain! Next time around, we will consider how we’re getting to and from the airport before even booking flights and commit to using public transit whenever possible.


Has a ride-sharing app crept into your lifestyle? Do you travel different for business vs. personal trips?


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10 Responses to "Lifestyle Inflation: Ubering to the Airport"

  1. Fiby says:

    I’ve got the opposite “problem”: I bought $15 in Uber gc months ago thinking I’d use it at some point, but I haven’t yet. This is further compounded by the fact that I have the Amex Platinum, which gives me $15 of expiring Uber credits each month. Because it expires at the end of the month, and I so rarely use Uber, I end up just using it on Uber eats.

    1. Emily says:

      Hmm, sounds like your credit card is trying to tempt you into lifestyle inflation, too! I haven’t tried Uber Eats yet. I used one other meal delivery service on a special occasion but I haven’t made a habit of it.

      1. Fiby says:

        Haha I woudl be very surprised if I actually continued to use Uber Eats or other food delivery services once I cancel my Amex Plat.

  2. Mrmoneybanks says:

    Ah Emily! I feel your pain. I’ve noticed lifestyle inflation creeping in as my income has slowly risen. I find that as long as you’re setting and meeting your saving and investing goals then there’s no need to worry about it – we can all afford a little luxuries as long as you’ve prioritised your financial goals.

    1. Emily says:

      I agree with the principle, but I’m not so sure our savings rate is where we want it to be, especially with respect to our irregular expenses!

  3. I use cabs (I am pro-regulation and pro-taxi driver). Though generally for business expenses– personal travel usually has someone picking us up on the other end. Depending on how good the light rail system is and where I am I will use public transportation (like in DC or SF or some parts of Boston), but generally when cuts travel time rather than increases it.

    We also will park at the airport for our local airport ($20/day) or at one of the shuttle lots at the city airport ($8/day + seemingly random fees).

    I think there’s some benefit to using money to shorten hassle and travel-time if you have the money. Maybe you made the right trade-offs giving your situation and don’t need to beat yourself up over it. Lifestyle inflation isn’t always bad. Or maybe you have a better purpose for those $. It isn’t inefficient to spend the money if it saves hassle and time. The trade-offs are what is important.

    1. Emily says:

      What bothered me about this lifestyle inflation was that it was mindless inflation rather than purposeful increase. I totally agree that trading money for reduced hassle and time waste makes sense in some cases. But for the examples I listed, I’d prefer the $100 or so!

  4. SarahN says:

    My ubers are typically $15-$18 (coincidence) and used to get to or from dates mainly. In many cases I’ll public transit and walk there, and get home another way (Uber). My parents are WONDERFUL at the occasional airport drop off and pick up too. And here in Europe, I’ve used pub transit except in Iceland where I had coach transfers all prepared…

    1. Emily says:

      That amount of money is not too bad, and at least one way you’re taking a less expensive route. That’s really nice to have airport rides! We get them when we visit our parents but not at home. Good for you for taking public transit in unfamiliar cities!

  5. […] The big event of the last two months was our trip to Virginia for my sister’s wedding. We were gone for ten days at the end of October. It was quite a spendy occasion between the travel and the attire, but well worth it of course. Absolutely nothing went wrong at the wedding! I plan to write a whole post on my expenses as a bridesmaid (this was the first time I’ve been in a wedding party). We also bought a bunch of stuff to make traveling with a toddler (!) easier. One good frugal step we took was that we caught a ride to and from the airport from a friend and thereby avoided Uber expenses. […]

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