You’re making plans to finally enjoy that beautiful vacation home you purchased among the real estate for sale in Whistler or maybe you’re planning to visit your in-laws in Spokane. Living in Calgary, you could feasibly drive to your destination but you might wonder if it makes more sense to drive.
No matter where you’re heading to or from, assuming there isn’t an ocean between you and your travel destination, deciding whether to fly or drive is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make. The answer depends not only on your own personal preferences but the total cost. To make the best decision, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions.
Do you need a car at your destination?
If you need a car at your destination, after adding the cost of a rental car to airfare it might make your decision easy. While rental cars once came cheap, rates have skyrocketed in many places, and in some, you have to book months in advance to ensure that there will even be one available. As Marketplace and many other sites have reported, people are finding instead of the typical $30 to $50 a day, rates are $140 a day or more. The average, according to a AAA Travel rep is around $134 per day. That means the first thing you’ll want to do is check car rental rates so that you can more easily compare the potential costs.
On the other hand, if you’re traveling to a big city where public transport is readily accessible, or perhaps to a resort that offers complimentary shuttle service and you won’t really need a car, it might make more sense to fly.
Who’s traveling with you?
If you’re traveling with your family or any larger group, the cost of air travel might be prohibitive. For those with very young children, getting through airport security and having to worry about temper tantrums on the plane can be a concern. It might be easier to drive depending on how well they do in the car. And when traveling with teenagers, navigating the pitfalls of flying will probably be a lot easier if you can afford the airfare.
How much time do you have at your destination?
If driving means that you’ll spend more time behind the wheel than you will at the destination, it may be worth flying even if you have to spend more on airfare and get through the flight with small kids. Ten hours in the car is probably not worth a two or three day visit.
Are you planning ahead or is it a last minute trip?
Booking airfare at the last minute, especially within two weeks of your departure date, can be extremely expensive. Ideally, you’ll want to get your airline tickets at least a month ahead of time. If you need a car in your destination, that’s now going to be a lot pricier too, or in some cases, they might be sold out. But if you have to leave in a rush, it may be worth the splurge when time is too limited to drive.
Can your vehicle handle the trip?
If you have an older car that you primarily use for errands around town and/or a short commute to work and aren’t sure it can handle a long trip, driving might be too big of a risk. You’ll want to have it checked out by a mechanic to avoid potential mishaps out on the road. If it turns out that your vehicle needs a lot of work, flying is probably a better idea. If you do decide to drive, be sure to sign up for a roadside assistance membership like AAA so that you’ll have help should a breakdown occur.