Planning a Trip. Should You Drive or Fly?


Driving or Flying? That's the question we asked ourselves as we decided to visit a friend in Charlotte, North Carolina. It actually wasn't that hard of a decision for us to choose to drive our car from central Florida, for a variety of reasons. Which is the point of this article, to help you decide based on your priorities and situation, because of course it makes a difference. Here are questions to ask yourself to determine if you should drive or fly -
  1. How long would it take to drive there vs fly? Generally I like the time at the event to be twice the time it takes to commute (E > 2T). For example, if I want to go to a concert in a different city that is 90 minutes away driving (2 x 90 min = 3 hrs), and the concert will last from 7 pm to 11 pm (4 hrs) then I would consider it. But if it took longer to commute somewhere than I would be staying, I would probably not go. So, likewise with a trip across the country. Driving to NC took 9 hours x 2, so 18 hrs. We stayed from Thur evening to Sunday morning so it was over a 50 hour visit. Making the drive worth it.
  2. Do you have more than one driver, do you have pets, elderly passengers or children that may not handle a long drive well? Another consideration, but these types of passengers may not fly well either, so cost may be more of a factor. But driving allows you to stop more frequently and tend to any needs that develop.
  3. Calculate the cost of fuel vs flight costs. This is a no brainer, but the more passengers you have the cheaper it will cost to travel. If you don't have a travel worthy vehicle, you could consider renting one for the trip and calculating the cost too. Again, more passengers will probably steer you to drive.
  4. Will you need transportation at your destination? Most people do, unless you are going to a conference in one location the entire time. But then you are probably going solo and flying would be cheaper too.
  5. I don't generally consider the wear and tear on a car since they last forever even with high miles if you care for it properly. Our Camry is ten years old and just rolled over 90K on our trip. We will probably keep it another ten years and it still will have lots of life left at that point. But, if you like to trade in cars, or lease them you need to consider wear and tear for driving trips.
  6. Another consideration is the amount of possessions you will bring with you on your trip. If you are bringing some of your stockpile to save on food and beverage costs, you probably want to drive. If you can travel light with just one bag (and bring twice as much cash), you could do better to drive.

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