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One of the biggest decisions in planning a vacation boils down to how you get there: Should you drive or fly? This choice depends a lot on your personal preferences, so someone else can’t pick for you. That said, these questions will help you break down the pros and cons of driving vs. flying. Run through the list and figure out which option is the best for your upcoming trip.
1. Do you have a strong preference for driving or flying?
You’re going on vacation—choose the travel option that will actually make you feel like you’re taking a break from everyday stresses.
Opt for driving if:
You dislike the crowds, lines, and wait times at airports.
You have a fear of flying.
There are some great road stops along the way.
You enjoy driving.
You will need a car at your destination to get from place to place on your itinerary.
The drive time is compatible with your ideal vacation time.
It is better for your budget (more on this below).
Opt for flying if:
Your kids will get restless on a long car trip.
You’ll spend more time driving than you will at your destination.
You enjoy flying and it fits with your budget.
You need to get somewhere ASAP and driving isn’t fast enough.
2. How big is the nearest airport?
Flying into or out of a smaller airport is usually more expensive than traveling between major airports. Flights from smaller airports cost more for a few reasons:
Fewer people flying means the cost per ticket goes up.
Only a few airlines fly into small airports, so pricing is more rigid.
If you still prefer flying, check ticket prices. You may find a great deal, especially if your travel dates are flexible.
If you don’t see any deals, ask yourself the other questions on this list to zero in on the best way to get there.
3. Are you traveling on short notice?
Sometimes the need to travel arises suddenly. In those situations, you may feel in a rush and assume flying is the better option.
However, last-minute airline tickets can do a number on your wallet. Typically, the lowest prices on a flight are available 1-6 months before the departure date. In contrast, gas prices and auto rental rates don’t change much from day to day. For example, you should get a comparable rate whether you book a rental car months in advance or just 24 hours before you leave.
Bottom line? If you want to save money on a last-minute trip, map out a driving route. Splurge on those plane tickets if you can’t drive the distance between point A and point B in the limited time you have.
4. How many people are coming with you?
The decision to drive or fly often boils down to the overall cost. With flying, the price of the trip multiplies every time you add another seat. With driving, you pay per car, not per person.
The more people on your trip, the more your wallet will appreciate you getting behind the wheel instead of waiting in the TSA security line.
What if your car won’t fit everyone in your travel party comfortably? Car rentals are priced per vehicle. You can rent a roomier ride and avoid adding wear and tear to your own car.
5. Can your car handle the trip?
Your own car might do fine running errands around town, but what if it’s too old or unreliable to drive hundreds of miles? If you’ve missed a recent oil change or you know the car needs updates like new tires, try one of these options.
Visit a mechanic. A look under the hood can usually tell an experienced mechanic whether your car is up to the task. A mechanic’s diagnosis isn’t fool-proof, but it might help you decide whether to consider other options.
Sign up for roadside assistance. A service like AAA can come to your rescue if you do have any problems on your journey in your own car. The cost to become a member may be prohibitive, though.
Book a car rental. If you’d prefer to save money and drive, a car rental is affordable and reliable. The models in a rental fleet are usually less than two years old and undergo regular maintenance. Roadside assistance may even be included just in case.
6. Is renting a car cheaper than flying?
If all other considerations seem equal, you just need a formula for comparing the costs of flying to the costs of driving a rental car. So let’s compare!
Air Travel Costs
Airfare for each passenger
Transportation to and from the airport
In-flight food and/or entertainment
Seat selection (often sold as a separate option)
Transportation while in the destination city
Car Rental Costs
Driving snacks and/or entertainment
Browse Car Rental Pricing for Your Trip
Car rental prices vary by car type/size, location, availability, and the length of your trip. To get an idea of how much a rental car would cost for your trip plug in your travel dates and tentative pickup and drop-off locations in the reservation form at the top of this window. Once you submit these details you’ll see the available vehicles and their cost.
Once you’ve priced out your trip, if you compare the two options (driving vs. flying), you’ll almost certainly see that renting a car for your full vacation costs less than paying for airfare. A travel calculator like BeFrugal.com might help you predict the cost of driving vs. flying for your trip.
Book Your Vacation Travel
If you decide that a rental car is your best option for getting to, from, and around on an upcoming trip, book here and now with Avis. We always have travel deals to save you money, and we offer a full range of vehicles so your whole group can stick together and feel comfortable. Enter your travel dates now to find the perfect rental car.
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