Rental car

More travelers choose to drive instead of fly

Is flying to a destination always the best choice? M and I often travel to play golf and in this era of long waits at security, rising airfares, and overfull flights, many people are deciding that driving is a better answer.

A recent poll by AirfareWatchdog.com asked the following question: In order to avoid flying (due to rising fares and/or other factors), how much more time are you willing to spend driving this year in comparison to last?
I’ll drive up to two more hours -14%
I’ll drive 2-4 more hours -15%
I’ll drive 4-6 more hours -16%
I’ll drive 6-8 more hours -15%
I’ll drive 8+ more hours-27%
I won’t drive. Fares may be higher but I’m still a flier-16%

In this poll, 45% of the respondents said they would drive up to 6 more hours in order to avoid flying. Another 31% are willing to drive at least 6 – 8 more hours. Driving about 8 hours can equal a minimum of about 4 hours travel time to fly: arriving 2 hours before a flight, the flight time of an hour, and 45 minutes to disembark and claim luggage. Are people tired of the hassles of flying, or trying to save money?
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George Hobica, of AirfareWatchdog.com comments, “The results show that despite higher gas prices, many consumers will be driving longer distances this summer than in past years. It’s not just economics, however, because despite higher airfares it’s still cheaper to fly on many routes rather than drive. We suspect that consumers’ reluctance to fly has more to do with airport hassles, bag fees, TSA lines, and possible weather delays. In any case, this isn’t great news for the airline industry.”

There are many considerations when making the fly/drive decision, including the cost of gasoline, hotel rates along the route, rental car fees, and the cost of your time. Using the Fly or Drive Calculator on Befrugal.com, vacationers can determine which mode of transportation is less expensive. The cost for a family of 4 to travel to Santa Fe, New Mexico from Denver in a Toyota Rav 4 was 6 hours, 23 minutes and $147.00 for fuel and vehicle wear and tear. The cost for that same family to fly to Albuquerque was $991 and 5 hours, 44 minutes, including parking at the airport, baggage fees, and air tickets, but not including renting a car are driving to Santa Fe.

For us here in the Rocky Mountain west, the distances can be challenging. How do you decide whether to drive or fly?