June 25, 1927
Mr. H. Johnston has just completed a nine day journey along the National Old Trails Highway from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Amazingly, he made the cross-country trip in his $10 dollar 1919 Ford! His total expenses, including gasoline, meals, lodging, and one minor $3 repair to the Ford was a miserly $55 ($657.31 USD 2007).
Impressive? Absolutely! But, future dwellers, while we shake our heads in wonderment at how inexpensive it was to live in 1927 America, let’s put on our time travel goggles and look at this feat from a different perspective.
If Mr. H. Johnston went out today and purchased an entry level 2007 Toyota Prius ($22,175.00) it would cost him $265,015.46 in 1927 dollars. Gasoline for the hybrid would take a bite out of his budget to the tune of about $35.83 per gallon!
Nine nights at a Motel 6 (at $69.99 per night) would set Mr. Johnston back a whopping $7,528.14. And that’s if he didn’t rent any movies. At these prices he may lose his appetite, but a man has to eat. Let’s give Mr. Johnston a total food budget of $45 to visit a drive-thru of his choice once each day – that translates into $537.80 in current dollars for burgers, fries and sodas.
Get out your calculators and we’ll do a back-of-the-envelope estimate for Mr. Johnston’s trek in the strange 2007 time machine. The nine day vacation would now cost him approximately $275,052.25.
Your mileage may vary.