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Old 01-03-2013, 05:21 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,339

To Drive or Not to Drive... That is the Question?

We are from Ontario, Canada (not far from Toronto) and we are headed down to Orlando for a dance competition the beginning of July. We are debating whether to drive or take a flight.
Previous trips we had taken tour bus and then driven. They were long drives but more budget friendly. Our last trip we flew out of Detroit and swore we would never drive again. Well, here we are again and we are debating what to do.
Our trip will mostly be at a hotel in Orlando and we would like to do a couple day trips to possibly Disney or Universal or even a beach. Which means if we were to fly down we would also need to rent a vehicle. Budget wise driving our own vehicle would be more do-able. On the other hand our last trip we flew spirit airlines out of Detroit and it was a decent price and much more convenient!

Looking for some pros and cons for both and whether anyone knows of tips for driving such a long distance/ where to stay/ how long to plan for the drive. Or what airlines or rentals (budget) would you recommend!

Sorry so long, thanks
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Old 01-09-2013, 01:03 PM   #2
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Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
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We drive down every December which is a total of 34-36 hours. I believe it's only 24 hours from where you are located? Driving has been cheaper for us and has allowed us to do the trip every year. Our concern is always about the weather but if you are doing summer it would be a great drive.

Pro's for me is the saving of the money = more shopping or other items you may want.

Plus I love sleeping in cars I know that sounds funny but I have my little blanket, pillow and neck supporter.

We are located in Nova Scotia so take a different way then you would so places to stay for the first part I would not know. We do the drive usually in 2 days but may move it to 3 going down. Always 2 coming home (18 hour days). I can't read or watch movies which is what my daughter does. I usually watch the traffic, talk to DH or sleep. One good thing about driving through the States, you just never know what you will see.

So in the end as you can tell im all for the drive.
Good luck with your decision.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:48 PM   #3
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Location: Barrie, ON
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I say drive too. We live in Barrie and drove last time and actually enjoyed it. We made it part of our great adventure! But we only have one child (she was 6 at the time) and she is awesome in the car. As long as she has movies and books she is happy.

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Old 01-10-2013, 06:00 PM   #4
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We love the drive. We are one hour east of Windsor Ontario and it takes us about 21 hours at the most. I look so forward to the time spent with the family in the car. Lots of laughs
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:12 PM   #5
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We are driving too this year. Budget friendly.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:16 AM   #6
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Location: Toronto Canada
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We tend to stay at Doubletree by Hilton when ever we can as I know Im going to get a clean and well maintained room for around $100 per night. We have done the Days Inn route paying only $50 per night but we just found the level of cleanliness and maintenance of the room and property was inconsistent. I pre-book the rooms as soon as I can so we get the best price available and I shop around with Hotels.ca and the hotels websites.

We tend to take two days (one night stay in hotel) to get to disney we leave around 2am and drive to either Charlotte NC or Columbia SC. This really depends on what day of the week we leave. If we leave during the week we can easily get to Columbia but if we leave on a Friday or Saturday we stop at Charlotte as traffic is usually slow just outside of Charlotte so we know to stop there instead of sitting in traffic.

On the way back sometimes we take two days and sometimes we take three days.

two day trip we leave disney and go to Princeton WV and on a three day trip back we go to Columbia SC the first night and then Washington PA for the second night.

To reduce traffic costs we purchased muffins, cereal and snacks for breakfast for driving and we would stop for lunch and dinner. We also purchased buns, cold meat and cheese and a small jar of mayo for two lunches on the way back. Our cooler was filled with water, milk and juice.
For dinner we stopped at Red Robin, Chick-a-fil, and Denny's
Total for all of this food other than drinks which we purchased prior to leaving was $ 284.00 american

The kids are also given $15 dollars each way to spend while traveling on little toys while we stop to stretch and rest at Walmart/target etc... This keeps the kids entertained for part of the day while in the car...

For our trip in May we took 3 days coming back and here is the breakdown of expenses...

Total spent
Fuel: $405 american
Hotel: $290 canadian
Food: $284 american
kids $60 american
total: $1039 mix currency but dollar was very close to par at the time...
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:22 AM   #7
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Here an old post from another thread that I wrote regarding our May 2012 trip...

Our route was I90-79-19-77-95-4 both ways.

Friday May 11
2am left ajax
4pm arrived in Charlotte NC

Saturday May 12th
5am left Charlotte NC
3pm Arrive at Caribbean Beach Resort

Sunday May 20th
6am left Disney
4 pm arrive at Columbia SC

Monday May 21st
6 am leave Columbia SC
4 pm arrive at Washington PA.

Tuesday May 22nd
6 am Leave Washington PA
2pm arrive home

Once we arrived at Disney the only time we drove our vehicle was to a character breakfast at The Beach Club Resort which added about 20km total to our total KMs.

As for Gas mileage,
vehicle: 2008 Pontiac Montana (extended wheelbase)
two adults and two children (3 and 6)
total KMs: 4388
total cost of gas $405.37
average L/100 km: 9.35
cheapest gas $3.454 / gallon
most expensive gas: $4.003 / gallon

Most of the places we stopped required pre payment so we would let our gas tank get to just below 1/4 tank and then we would add $50 dollars.

If you have any questions feel free to ask away...
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:02 PM   #8
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I actually don't mind the drive and sometimes prefer it over flying if we have the extra time. When my kids were younger I hated driving but now that they are a bit older we make a mini vacation out of it. One thing I love about driving is I am not limited to how much stuff I can take.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:18 PM   #9
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We drive from Ottawa twice a year. It makes perfect sense when you have more than 2 people and need a vehicle while you're there.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:59 PM   #10
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Location: Ontario,Canada
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Would you mind sharing some tips about your route? I am from Barrie too and trying to decide about driving. So much to think about...where is clean?safe? affordable? routes?for dd and me on another mother /daughter trip this spring
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:45 AM   #11
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Location: Canada
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Guess I am the opposite. We hope to never drive again- we used to. We always fly out of Buffalo (have used Air Trans, Southwest and Jet Blue and combos different airlines for return etc depends on flight times and pricing) and so far have never paid more than approx $300 return for each person and that is always at peak holiday times-Christmas or March Break. I would prefer to have our limited vacation time spent in Florida and not in a car but maybe when we have more time off this would not be an issue. We have always gone to escape our winters so also driving in July would eliminate any winter driving issues. I find the price of car rentals to be very good-we have been able to get mini vans every trip for about $300 a week and cars are cheaper-Budget has been the one we have used last 2 trips-transportation board will give you lots of codes to save or Mousesavers. There is also Spirit and Allegiant to fly out of Niagara Falls NY airport.
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:23 PM   #12
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We are from Montreal, and we drive twice a year

With our family of 5, it's cheaper and way easier that way!!!!

And like others said, we have extra time with the kids just talking and getting some quality time with them
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:07 AM   #13
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Location: Nepean, On, Canada
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We drive from Ottawa every year. We just returned January 25th and spent approximately $550 on gas driving a 2009 Santa Fe with 4 adults (DD and BF are over 21) and lots of luggage. We drive straight through and left Friday morning at 7:45 and arrived Saturday at 2 pm. Coming home we left Thursday at 9:15am and arrived in Ottawa Friday at 4:00 pm. We enjoy the drive and it is so nice to buy whatever I want. I want my own car when there and with the Marathon and having to be at the start line by 4:30 am a nice warm car is the way to go. Car rentals are often very expensive. Airfares out of Ottawa are ridiculous and by the time we add the overnight stay, parking etc in Syracuse for 4 people the cost savings are not that great. All ready planning next year. We have went for Christmas 2 out of the last 4 years and driving at that time really saved money.

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Old 02-10-2013, 09:06 AM   #14
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Location: Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
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Love the drive!

We drive every year and love it! To us it is part of the vacation. We love having our own vehicle there and not having to worry about limiting our shopping to fit in a suitcase. Our trip last year cost us round-trip $350.00 in our Pontiac Montana with 5 people and luggage. Best of luck on your decision......
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:19 AM   #15
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We've done both with our kids and some prefer drive and others like to fly. I couldn't careless LOL. If driving we usually leave on friday after dh gets home from work and dinner which turns to be around 6-7pm. We switch a few times who's driving and we drive through. We only stop do have breakfast and sometimes dinner. We usually have stuff in the car to eat in between. Only 1 of my dds hates it but once we are in the car on our way, she doesn't complain anymore. We bring DD players and goodie bags and that keeps them busy for a while.
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