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Flying vs. driving is one of the important choices you have to make while traveling, keeping in mind all the factors that can affect your decision.

Driving is the preferable option for shorter trips (in some cases), while flying is preferred when covering long distances. Driving provides personal space and reduces the constraints of traveling. On the other hand, flying is faster, prone to fewer accidents, and also benefits the environment.

When it comes to flying vs. driving, you must consider several factors, including the total cost, your itinerary and destination, total stopovers, and whether or not you're into sightseeing along the way. The most important factor to consider is cost, so it will take some research to determine if flying or driving is the most cost-effective option for you.

Whether you're flying to Vegas for a wild weekend adventure or journeying across the country to see your in-laws for the holidays, you'll probably spend a lot of time in transit. However, before you book your next plane ticket or fill up your car for a road trip, think about the pros and cons of driving vs. flying. Our experts in the industry have put together this detailed guide to help you decide which option would be more suitable for you when it comes to flying vs. driving.

Table of contents


Flying Vs Driving - Comparison  

Fuel Efficiency

There's no question that the bigger and more gas-guzzling your automobile is, the more expensive it will be to go on a road trip. For example, if you chose a large SUV with a poor mpg rating, you'll likely find yourself stopping to fill up so frequently that simply paying for a flight would have been cheaper in the first place.


Long-distance driving can have a major impact on your car, so make sure your tires are in good shape, check that your brake pads will last the entire trip, and make sure you have spare lights just in case yours wear out during the trip (they shouldn't, though). It's also worth thinking about how long you'll retain your car after your road trip; if you're planning on selling it soon, flying rather than driving might be a better option to keep those clock miles low and wear-and-tear to a minimum.


Although not all insurance policies permit you to drive overseas, practically all countries need you to have auto insurance, so be sure you're covered if you plan to cross borders with your vehicle.

Journey Time

Planes outrun automobiles. We may be stating the obvious here, but flying can actually save you time in many situations. However, just because a flight takes less time does not mean it is the better alternative. Remember all the extra requirements that add time to your trip, such as waiting in line to check your bags, security lines, or simply sitting at your gate waiting to board.

Snacks and Meals

Although there are many options at the airport, having a bite to eat will set you back quite a bit. Food at the airport is often expensive, ranging from a $15 hamburger to a $6 bottle of water. When traveling by car, you can fill up at a gas station, have a meal at a local diner, and continue your journey without blowing through your budget.


The chances of a flight getting canceled or delayed are significantly higher than the chances of a road trip getting delayed. Thunderstorms and rain can put a stop to your trip plans if you're flying, but you can drive through it without a hitch (just be sure to drive slower than normal). Additionally, mechanical troubles, delayed connecting flights, and various other concerns can cause a delay as well.


In addition to having a restriction on how much luggage you can carry, you also have to pay to check it in. The only restriction in your car is how much you can cram in while still being able to close the doors. Traveling by automobile can save you money and time while also alleviating the burden of trying to fit everything into one suitcase. This also allows you to bring along those extra items that will help you be prepared when you arrive at your destination.

Factors to Consider


Often, your schedule will help you determine which option is best for you. If you're on a tight schedule, you might want to book a flight to cut down on travel time.


Before you decide, compare the total cost of traveling via air and road. You will have to keep in mind the stopovers you'll make while traveling, so be sure to throw in the extra cost of meals, layovers, or fuel.

Nature of Travel

If you're going on a business trip to attend a critical half-day meeting in another city, you might want to take a quick flight rather than driving for hours. On the other hand, if you plan to go with your family, you could take the car and enjoy the scenery along the way.


Packing isn't enjoyable, especially when you're attempting to pack a suit (or numerous suits!) into a carry-on bag. There's no need to worry about what you're bringing or how much room it takes up when you're driving. You won't have to worry about your toiletries or bag size being TSA compliant.

Number of Passengers

A large family or a group of friends can significantly raise the expense of air travel due to the price of a single ticket. Depending on the length of your vacation, you might be able to rent a car for less than the cost of a single aircraft ticket. For example, six passengers traveling will require separate tickets, but they can all fit into the same minivan without paying extra.


It will be far easier to navigate the challenges of traveling with two teenagers than it will be to get through security with four small children. Flying might not be the greatest option if the notion of your children causing a commotion on the plane makes you nervous.


Flying is statistically safer than driving, even though it may feel riskier to some. Road accidents claim the lives of over 1.3 million people each year, while plane accidents claim far fewer lives and occur less statistically.

Hidden Costs

Don't forget to consider the hidden costs of driving. Hidden costs include the expense of maintenance and repair, the tire cost per mile, and depreciation per mile. While these aren't costs that you'll have to pay right now, you'll have to pay them eventually.

Cost Comparison

For many people, the expense of flying vs. driving is a major consideration. While you may be tempted to compare ticket prices to gas prices to see which is less expensive, don't forget to include additional expenses like meals, luggage fees, and hotel rooms.

Driving Expenses

  • Dining out
  • Hotel rooms
  • Fuel
  • Tolls

Flying Expenses

  • Ticket
  • Seat selection
  • Luggage check-in
  • Airport meals
  • Car rentals

When Is Driving Less Expensive?

Driving is almost always the cheapest mode of transportation unless you're going cross-country and renting a large vehicle. Gas will most likely be your biggest outlay while you drive. You will also have to include the expense of a hotel stay if you have an 8-hour or longer travel ahead of you.

In many circumstances, driving to places that are less than 8 hours away will save you money. If you have a large family, you might be able to stretch the range to a 12-hour journey by taking turns to drive. However, a journey of more than 12 hours may be too taxing for some.

You're more likely to be productive when flying than driving unless you're the passenger. Airline lounges, in-flight Wi-Fi, and noise-canceling headphones can make answering emails and catching up on work a breeze while flying.

Moreover, you don't have to be concerned about TSA lineups or canceled flights when you're driving. All you have to do is get in your car and drive away. Flying, on the other hand, allows you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience once you've cleared security and settled into your seat.