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Is It Cheaper to Fly or Drive? 5 Questions to Ask Before Deciding

Is It Cheaper to Fly or Drive?

Planning a vacation to a dream destination, but unsure whether you should fly or drive? Maybe you are looking to cut down the cost or make your trip more convenient, but you can’t quite figure out which is the best option. 


Time is unarguably the major factor when deciding between driving and flying. Both have their own unique benefits and downsides when it comes to time-saving.


Flying makes your travel comfortable as the whole crew can kick back and relax on the flight. However, you are at the urge of the airline when it comes to boarding times. Driving, on the other hand, will let the family enjoy off the beaten path, but you’ll need to consider the fuel cost and traffic setbacks. 


In this article, we will review some common factors that will help you decide whether you should fly or drive to your vacay destination. 


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Primary Factors to Consider

When choosing your transportation, you’ll definitely want to pick a travel option that will make you feel like you’re taking a break from daily chores and everyday stress. 


Though the cost of fuel can be a major factor, it’s not the only factor that you need to consider while calculating the overall expense for your next vacation. 


Additional factors that make a difference include:


  • Driving: The cost of transportation to and from the destination, rental costs (if you decide to rent a car), fuel, insurance, tolls, driving time, oil change, vehicle maintenance, and much more should be considered. 


  • Flying: The cost of airfare, luggage, in-flight amenities, layover, travel dates, baggage fee, check-in time, transportation to and from the airport, and flight time should be factored in. 

Questions to Ask When Choosing Between Flying vs. Driving

When planning a vacation, the first thing that comes to mind is how to get there. Answering a few questions will help you make a decision on whether you should fly or drive. 

How big is your travel group?

The size and age of each member in your travel group determine the flight ticket prices, so you can calculate if flying is an option. Younger children tend to have cheaper tickets or may be able to fly for free, while adults have set ticket prices that may outweigh driving costs. 


Larger groups may also have to consider renting more than one car or finding a bigger van rental option. In this case, it may be cheaper to fly. 


Given the ever-rising cost of plane tickets, a large family trip can significantly increase the cost of air travel. 

Does your travel group have a preference?

It’s better to take note of any specific preferences before you plan your trip to avoid any additional travel costs later. 


Some may have a fear of flying, meaning that driving may be the best option. On the other hand, driving may be strenuous if the trip is long and there are few eligible drivers who can take charge, especially considering how hard the terrain or weather conditions may be to navigate. 

Will you need to rent a vehicle?

Renting a vehicle makes sense if you are traveling with your entire family. Your kids and elderly parents may have a fear of flying. For a comfortable journey, consider an eight-seater SUV for a one or two-hour drive. 


Moreso, if your own car is not in a good condition, renting is an ideal option. The more you drive your car, the more value your vehicle will lose over time. The car depreciation cost may be high enough to determine renting is a better choice. Plus, rental cars equip safety features that add comfort to your road trip.  

How quickly will you need to arrive? 

If your vacation is only a week but the drive there and back is two days, it may be beneficial to fly. For example, the 1.5 hours of flight time from Richmond to NYC can take six hours on the road. 


If you’re only going a short distance, it may not be worth flying considering flight costs. You may end up spending extravagantly for just a quick trip. Low miles will not reduce the resale value of your car. Plus, you’ll likely save money on gas prices in comparison. 


For short-notice travel, you’ll need to consider which option you can get the quickest — rental or airfare. Compare the flying cost with the overall cost of gas your vehicle needs to reach the destination for the best decision. 


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What will you do in case of last-minute cancellations? 

Pick your tumult: the airport after a flight cancellation or the road during a traffic jam? Though flying may be more prone to last-minute cancellations, a rental car may also risk falling through the cracks. 


Which situation is easier to handle with kids and family? Which is likely to be more reliable? Can you accommodate this change in plans? How much does the round trip cost? 


Flight delays mean you have already spent a lot of money on tickets, so no stepping back. In some cases, you may need to book hotel rooms due to the huge layover time. Traffic is relatively bearable though, as they do not add extra costs to your tour. 

Is it cheaper to fly or drive?

Considering your budget and which fits better based on the factors listed in the above section, the cost of driving is likely cheaper than the airfare overall. Unless you’re planning a cross-country trip or a long road trip to the countryside, driving is almost always an ideal option. 


You have the freedom and flexibility to stop anywhere, anytime along the way to eat, rest, or go sightseeing. 


On the flip side, flying is faster as you can reach your long-distance destination in just a couple of hours. When you are dealing with time constraints for a destination 8+ hours away, flying can cut down travel time and you can be there in less than 2 hours. 


When you are traveling alone, flying can be the cheaper option based on how much the ticket costs, given that you get a AAA discount on your airline tickets if you book through certain providers.  

Travel in Comfort with Airport Van Rental

Driving is commonly a cheaper option whether you are planning a short trip or a long drive to a scenic destination. Airport Van Rentals has a variety of deals and discounts on our car rental solutions that can help you save big on your next vacation. 


Whether you want to rent a compact SUV or a minivan, we have all the options to serve you better. Want an additional baby seat or a chauffeur for your road trip? Contact us to book your car rental package today.