Drive or Fly? A Look at 3 Popular U.S. Getaways

by  Tommy Burson | May 21, 2014
Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. / Joecho-16/iStock

With Memorial Weekend approaching, we decided to tackle a classic debate holiday travel debate: For your next getaway, should you drive or fly?

The convenience of flying outweighs the stress of driving for some travelers, especially if they have to spend more than an hour or two on the road. Then again, we all know how pricey flying can be, and that's before you even consider the hassle of security lines and getting to the airport. Beyond this, it's also important to consider whether you'll need (or want) to use a car when you reach your destination.

Here, we take a few of the most popular vacation routes and weigh the pros and cons of driving or flying.

New York City to Washington D.C. (or vice versa)
This is a classic trip in which the distance is barely worth a flight, but driving can be a huge hassle. (Who wants to be stuck in traffic in either of these cities?) From door-to-door, believe it or not, both flying and driving require a nearly four hours, including the time it takes to reach the airport and clear security. One perk of driving to D.C. is that you can take a few far-flung day-trips, like Mount Vernon or even Baltimore, with relative ease. Plus, a car allows for more luggage than a 45-inch suitcase, and it’s cheaper. Of course, with your car comes parking fees, and the laborious task of finding parking spots in the first place, in a city where endless attractions are reachable by the Metro.

Our verdict: Fly. If the price for summer and holiday weekends is steep, look into using miles or points, or extend your stay so that you're flying on weekdays.

The Northeast to Orlando
Disney World always makes a popular Memorial Weekend vacation, with or without kids. Considering Disney’s  recent ticket hike, a Disney vacation won’t be cheap. But depending on where you live, Orlando can take hours or even days to reach by cars. From the Northeast, flying takes about six hours – a three-hour flight plus door-to-door airport transport – compared with 15 to 24 hours of driving. That’s not even counting bathroom breaks, dining detours, and other inevitable stops. While plane tickets likely cost as much as gas for the entire trip, flying is much faster and much easier. Disney even helps transport you to and from the airport, and once you're at the resort, you won't really need a car.

Our verdict: If you're traveling as a couple or a small group, consider flying. The extra expense is worth it. If you're a family or traveling with a larger group, hit the road to avoid astronomical expense. Long car rides are are what childhood memories are made of, right?

Los Angeles to Las Vegas
For Angelinos, a mere hour-long flight is all it takes to hit the Vegas Strip. Compare that with a relatively easy four-hour drive north on I-15, and it's a bit of a tossup whether you should fly or drive. Ultimately, your decision should come down to what you really want to do once you get to Vegas. Flights can cost between $90 and $150, depending on your flexibility, but if you don't plan to venture beyond downtown, you won't need a car. Driving, on the other hand, is the only way to get a break from the lights, glamour, and replica landmarks – and we're particular fans of a  day trip to the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, or even Area 51.

Our verdict: Gamblers, glam girls, and those heading to Vegas for just a short jaunt should fly. A longer trip will probably require a car.

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