When given the option, many struggle to choose between driving and flying on vacation. Allegedly, the former saves money while the latter cuts transit time. But is this always the case? To determine which mode of transportation fits your next trip, weigh the factors below.
Many travellers mistakenly believe the cost of driving hinges on gas mileage, but cars incur more costs:
- Rental fees (if applicable),
- Maintenance over long journeys,
- Accommodation at stopovers,
- And more.
The number of passengers per vehicle helps offset the costs above. This is a unique advantage: airfare never changes, regardless how many people fly. Car costs are shareable, so as long as everyone fits, you can divide the expenses equally.
However, when driving alone, all aforesaid costs fall into your lap. Consequently, the price of a boarding pass might seem favourable. But you must also consider how you plan to travel after your flight. Rental cars, cabs and shuttles add up.
Ideally, travelling should not consume the bulk of your trip. Consider how long you will spend driving or flying versus staying at your destination:
- Two days of flying for one week vacation;
- Four days of driving for one week vacation.
If deciding on the ratios above, then flying wins, but various factors influence time:
- Traffic delays (i.e. jams, collisions and construction areas),
- Weather (i.e. postponed / cancelled flights),
- And security (i.e. customs and border-crossing).
Such variables emphasize the need for route research before deciding on flying or driving.
A Calculator to Make the Decision for You
Befrugal.com developed a fly-or-drive calculator that compares the two means of transportation over a certain period and distance. Criteria it assesses include dates, fuel economy, airline, season and more. Based on its calculations, most trips under four hours suit driving. For a screenshot of this tool, see below.
Unfortunately, Befrugal.com does not weigh experience into its equation. After all, driving does provide opportunities to see more places. Whether or not this means anything to you depends on preference.