Decision Time: Drive or Fly on Vacation?

In this age of COVID-19, we are being forced to question all of our prior practices. This includes how we travel. Prior to COVID-19 most of us wouldn’t second guess flying. It’s typically the fastest mode of transportation to most vacation destinations. Now with the economic crunch of the pandemic as well as the safety of flying, we need to exam alternative ways to travel.

While flying hasn’t proved to be extraordinarily risky, driving is substantially safer as you can more easily socially distance not only within your vehicle but while stopping at gas stations and hotels. Another advantage of driving is that it is typically a cheaper way to travel, especially if you have more than two travelers.

The question becomes: how to calculate the difference so you know the option which is better for you and your traveling party.

To make your life easier, here is an easy-to-follow questionnaire which calculates all the expenses related to driving and flying to help you make your decision.

Click on the image to complete the questionnaire. Once open click “Enable Editing”. Now that you have the questionnaire open, you will need to complete each question. So let’s take a look at what each question entails.


  1. Enter the number of people in your traveling party.
  2. Select the type of resort you will be staying at. Your options are Deluxe, Moderate, Value, Fort Wilderness and Off Property.
  3. Enter the number of nights you will be staying.
  4. If you are staying off Walt Disney World property, enter the number of days you will be going to the theme parks.


  1. Go to Google Maps and map out your route. Once you know the distance to your destination multiple that number times two to get the roundtrip miles.
Miles to Destination X 2 = Total Round Trip Miles
  1. Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or Google the make, model and year of your vehicle to find the number of gallons your gas tank holds.
  2. Drive your car until your tank is nearly empty then fill up your gas tank and keep track of the total number of miles you travel before your tank is empty again then calculate the gas mileage of your vehicle using the following formula:
Total Miles Traveled ÷ # of Gallons the tank holds = Miles per Gallon

For example, if you traveled 500 miles after your fill-up and your tank hold 20 gallons of gas then your vehicle gets approximately 25 miles to the gallon.

  1. Ascertain the average gas price you expect to pay during your drive. To make this easier, you can just get the national average. To find that number, AAA has a website that calculates not only the national average but the averages for each state in the union.

FYI, the gas price calculation will include one extra fill-up while you are at your travel destination.

  1. Determine whether you will be renting a car for the drive.
  2. Determine whether you will need to break-up your drive into two portions by staying the night on your way to and/or from your final destination. There is a possibility you might only need a hotel one way. Maybe you want to arrive refreshed if you have a long drive or maybe you know you will be tired on your return trip and want to break it up. Your choices are: Yes Each Way, Yes One Way and No.


  1. Estimate the cost of your round trip travel including the cost of luggage.
  2. If you are flying, select whether you be renting a car.
  3. If you will need to pay for parking at your originating airport enter the cost.

Scroll down to page two and the results will tell you whether driving or flying is the best fiscal option. But wait… there’s more.


Now that your calculations are done you will notice there is no accounting for your time. This means the time to drive to your destination, which for those outside of the 4-6 hour window could be a huge consideration. For this, you will need to determine what price point at which you would consider flying over driving even if driving is the cheaper option. For instance, if the difference between driving and flying is only $100 (or whatever your threshold is) would you consider flying to save yourself time?

Now that you are armed with all the info you need you can make the most informed decision for your traveling party. Are you going to go strictly by which is cheaper? Or are you going to give value to your time and fly if there is an acceptable difference between the two options? Let me know in the comments.

Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms Panel and a travel agent with Looking Glass Travel, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Agency. She is a team mom extraordinaire who has filled her time serving as secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist for her daughter’s travel sports team for over 15 years before becoming a team owner. You can follow her on Twitter at @JazzinDisneyMom.

You can follow our journey here: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for more great Team Mom, parenting, travel and Lifestyle content.

Drive or Fly on Vacation







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