For each trip, travelers have to weigh the pros and cons of driving versus flying. Which is more cost effective? Which is more convenient? Which one has the smallest environmental impact? While there are no answers that apply to every situation, following a few suggestions can make it easier to decide which travel method is most suitable for upcoming vacations or business trips.
Pros and Cons of Driving Versus Flying
When you’re deciding on the pros and cons of driving versus flying, the time required will be a consideration.
Flying vs driving How far are you going?
Driving usually takes more time, which means you may need to weigh the time required for overnight stays and additional meals. Flying, on the other hand, covers a great deal more territory in less time. However, you’ll have to factor in the requirement to arrive at the airport two hours before your departure, both going and returning home.
Most experts suggest that a reliable rule of thumb is the four hour rule. If you could reach your destination in less than four hours, it probably makes better sense to drive than fly.
If I want to visit family 20 hours away over Thanksgiving break and my kids only have that Thursday and Friday off of school, more often than not, I would fly out the Tuesday or Wednesday before. If it is a 15 hour drive, maybe I would consider driving.
How much time do you have to travel? Time away, the distance, and the cost are my major deciding factors. If I have a month off over the summer and want to travel 1,500 miles with my camper, that’s different than having a week off to go.
Costs – consider car rental vs hotel stays
From a monetary standpoint, the pros and cons of driving vs flying can also be difficult to figure. Airline tickets are no doubt expensive, and the price per gallon of gasoline is something that troubles most consumers.
Baggage fees and the cost of renting a vehicle at your destination need to be figured in on the cost of your flight. Also, consider how you’ll get to the airport. A shuttle or taxi costs money, and so does parking for the length of your trip.
If you consider driving, you can use the estimated mileage of your car and the average cost of fuel to arrive at an approximation of the cost. Don’t forget to factor in whether or not extra overnight stays will be required on super long drives.
Think of the environment
Most travelers are also interested in the environment when it comes to the pros and cons of driving versus flying. If you drive a hybrid vehicle, chances are good that driving will mean less environmental impact for you.
Even if you’re driving a traditional vehicle, your trip should emit fewer greenhouse gases per passenger than flying would. On the surface, this makes it seem like driving makes the most environmental sense, but that doesn’t necessary make it a realistic choice.
Whichever way you decide to go, consider purchasing carbon offsets from an organization like TerraPass to reduce the footprint of your trip.
Are you traveling with kids?
How many flights will you have to pay for? Are kids coming on the trip? Will you have to pay extra to check a stroller and/or a car seat? Not only that, but it’s really important to consider how well you baby, child or children travel in the car.
Can they (and you) safely endure a 10 hour car ride? My kids are seasoned car riders. We have driven them across the country many times but key was planning to stop to see interesting things along the way. We also packed a lot of snacks and planned ahead for things to do in the car.
The prospect of traveling with a baby is daunting — will she or he cry the whole time? Can I change him on the plane? Here’s everything you need to know to travel with baby: 21 tips for flying with your baby
For me and my family, the best decision is distance, money and time away. Remember, the journey is part of your vacation too; it’s not all about the destination. The pros and cons of driving versus flying is unique to every situation. Consider the time and stress getting there for sure.