Should You Fly or Drive This Summer? Travel Experts Share Their Thoughts

A survey conducted by Nationwide reports that nearly all respondents polled had a plan to travel in 2024. Driving ranked as the most likely mode of transportation. Two-thirds are planning a road trip, with one-third committed to driving.

Flying is still in style, with nearly half of respondents sharing they were likely to take a plane to their final destination this year. The debate of driving versus flying is not new, but it is currently at the forefront of many families trying to budget their next trip. While the Consumer Price Index reports airline fares dropping 7.1% between March 2023 and March 2024, consumers want to choose the most economical option for travel.

Driving is a cheaper option, especially for families who stand to save thousands of dollars by piling into one car rather than purchasing multiple roundtrip flights. A road trip also provides families with flexibility, both while traveling and at the final destination.

Paying the Price of Convenience

Opting for flying versus driving will, in most instances, bring a family to their final destination quicker. Like most conveniences, however, this comes at a cost.

Flying has benefits, but travelers must weigh those against the drawbacks, says Megan duBois, freelance journalist and theme park expert. She notes, “Flying can get you to a destination faster, but you also have to deal with busy airports and uncomfortable seats on a plane. Driving can take longer, depending on where you’re going, but the joy of being able to stop at places along the way is always fun.”

Unless the destination is a short drive away, flying is the preferred transportation method for Gavin Doyle, founder of Mickey Visit and best-selling author of Disneyland Secrets. However, he does not rule out driving as a money-saving alternative. He recalls one recent trip where he rented a car, sharing, “The night before I picked up my rental car, I priced the trip again with a slightly different drop-off, and it was actually $50 cheaper.”

Sarah Gilliland, founder of On the Road With Sarah and Managing Travel Editor for Wealth of Geeks, agrees that flying is optimal for longer journeys. Still, driving has more positives than negatives if it’s a short trip. She adds, “While you have to account for wear on the vehicle as well as fuel costs, overall, those tend to cost less than flying and depending on other transportation at the destination.”

If the vacation in question has a tight budget, editor of Sometimes Home Mikkel Woodruff says the decision is easy: opt for driving. Woodruff explains, “You can save a lot of money for a few tanks of gas versus buying multiple plane tickets. Though flying can get you to your destination in a shorter amount of time, if you’re on a tight travel budget, driving may be the way to go. If you drive, be sure to allow yourself time to make a few stops along the way — enjoy the journey!”

When deciding whether or not to drive, consider factors like added travel days needed for the road trip. If traveling by car takes multiple days, families must also factor in hotel costs, food costs, and other marginal charges. For some travelers, the higher financial cost of flying is worth dodging the logistical cost of extra hours in a car and possible extra nights in a hotel.

Flexibility While Traveling and Vacationing

Cost savings aside, experts point to flexibility as another benefit of driving instead of flying. That flexibility is twofold. Driving allows for a more lenient travel experience, and having a car means no one relies on public transportation while on vacation. The bonus here is that travelers do not pay for a rental car on top of expensive airfare.

Driving instead of flying also reduces the risk of travel day-related stress. Having more control over the travel schedule is one of the reasons Danny Newman, travel writer and founder of What’s Danny Doing, prefers driving. He says when driving, “You don’t have to worry about missing a flight and can break up the journey by stopping at interesting places along the way. You don’t have to worry about exorbitant airport food prices, either.”

Driving may not be the optimal choice for every family. Consider the destination when determining the best method of travel. Alexandra Caspero, founder of Delish Knowledge, says the convenience of flying is a significant factor. She notes, “We live four hours from Chicago and Nashville, and while both are quick flights, we prefer to drive to Nashville as we want a car while we are there and fly to Chicago as it has easy public transportation to and from the airport, and we don’t need a car while we visit.”

Ultimately, Gilliand believes that driving benefits families by offering additional control over when, where, and how they vacation. She adds, “Flying may get you there faster, but then you are at a destination where you are dependent on public transportation, ride-share, or renting a vehicle.” Whether the final decision is to fly or drive, travelers must assess the vacation budget and weigh the pros and cons beyond cost to determine the best option.

Carly Neil | Wealth of Geeks

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


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