The Dreaded Question: To Drive or To Fly

Discussion in 'Disney for Families' started by LekiaHall, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. LekiaHall

    LekiaHall Mouseketeer

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    Hi All,

    With me being a new WDW fanatic, I'm not sure why I don't post more...I must remedy that :cutie:

    Anyhoo....on to my concern. My family lives in the Metro DC area. This past April, on my first trip to WDW w/ my family, we drove down for the 13 hour car ride. We left DC at 10PM, so going down wasn't so bad...the kids slept. Coming back was a PAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We are a family of six (incl a 1 y/o)
    I did some quick pricing...Right now, airfare is roughly $175, pp. We'd then have to rent a car when we got there. I'm being conservative putting this cost at $300/week. Total to fly: $1175 (approx)

    If we drive, we absolutely MUST rent a cheap hotel/motel room half-way down....I'm guessing driving a rental car would cost: $700 (approx)

    Lastly, we could drive our own car, though I hesitate to put that many miles on it. BUT, we'd eliminate the rental fee entirely, making the cost: $400 (approx)

    Based on this, what would you all do? Would you pay more for the piece of mind of flying? (Plus, my kids have never been on a plane, so that would be cool)?

    What are your experiences with airfare, driving by car, etc?

    Thanks! :hippie:
     
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  3. rodeo65

    rodeo65 DIS Veteran

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    Well, I can't comment on flying since I'm married to a plane-phobe. We did take our 7 & 8 yr old kids to Disney this past June driving from Canada. It was their first major car trip, other than a twice yearly three hour drive up north. It is a 24 hour drive in total so we broke it into four days, arriving before noon on our fourth day. We drove in about two hour stretches - stopping every couple of hours for bathroom or food breaks.

    I had packed a Rubbermaid bin with new activity toys for the kids as well as some new DS games, videos and a snack box.

    Overall it went very well. I was amazed that they lasted as well as they did. Having something new to look forward to after lunch and each morning made it exciting for them and we actually had very few "how much longer?" questions.

    Coming home was a little more challenging. We drove it in three days so crammed an extra hour into each day. I had saved a few new videos for the drive home which saved the day, but in the future I'd make sure I had enough activities for the drive home as well.

    We have several neighbors who have driven with their kids ages ranging from 2 to 10 years. One family did what we did and broke it into three days and another started the drive at 9 at night and took turns going all through the night. The kids slept until breakfast when they stopped the next morning which let them get almost half of the trip over with while the kids were asleep. They stopped at a hotel before dusk, swam and had an early night then got up adn arrived early afternoon the next day. DH and I couldn't manage that since we both get sleepy driving in the dark, but they swore by it.

    Hope that helps some. Good luck deciding which way to go.
     
  4. Cedarmom

    Cedarmom Mouseketeer

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    We're coming from approx. the same area (NoVa) and we opted to fly. Several reasons:

    1. We drive down to GA once a year, and that is *quite* enough time in the car for me in any given year. ;)

    2. Vacation time. We lose two days of vacation time driving up and back. It costs us more to drive when you factor in 'lost' work time for dh. We're also pulling oldest ds out of school so we had that to consider as well.

    3. The baby. We have a baby as well. It really is just kind of torture for her to be in the car seat for that long both going and coming. She does well, but I'd much rather fly and only have her in the seat for 2 hours as opposed to 14 (each way).

    It cost our family of 5 $850 to fly (getting everyone, including the baby, a seat). For me, it was a no-brainer. :)
     
  5. ogreenlee

    ogreenlee <font color=green>i surely didn't want to have to

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    we live in atlanta, and it's only a 7 hour drive, but we're flying this time. i hate wasting time in a car.
     
  6. MyTwoPrincesses

    MyTwoPrincesses DIS Veteran

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    We live in DC and flew Southwest out of BWI. It was actually really inexpensive about $59 per person each way. However, there is no way we'd ever drive to Florida from DC. I hate road trips, would be exhausting for us, and it means less time actually on vacation. It seems like we'd be exhausted by the time we got home.
     
  7. mupt02

    mupt02 Mouseketeer

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    We haven't done the WDW drive yet (first trip is next summer), but we have done several other long drives. For us, driving is much more relaxing than flying. We take our time, spread the drive out over several days, and just make it part of the adventure. My DH doesn't fly well to begin with. Then we like to have our own stuff - carseats, strollers, pack 'n play, etc. Managing what we can through the airport is hassle enough, but then when you factor in the costs of all the stuff, it just isn't worth it to us. We are much more comfortable in the car. We drive during the day and stop at hotels each night. My kids don't sleep long periods in the car so driving overnight would not create a happy time for us.
     
  8. tinker-belle

    tinker-belle Mouseketeer

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    Another option would be the auto train which is pretty close to you (Lorton, VA), we've taken it 4 times so far (& we drive there from NJ). If you travel coach, it is cheaper than flying and you have the car with you!
     
  9. happymommy

    happymommy DIS Veteran

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    I live in Maryland, just north of DC, and have driven once, and flown all our other times.

    The reason we drove was that, it was right after 9/11, and we weren't going to fly if we could. Plus, our kids were 2 and 4, and we had just bought a new minivan with a DVD player.

    Down was fine. We left about 1pm, after the kids got out of school (they were in preschool, so they got out at 11:30) and picking my husband up from work. The kids fell asleep by 8pm, which was normal for them. We has intended on stopping soon, but since they were asleep we kept on driving. All... The.... Way.... 12 hours later, we were there!

    I had low blood sugar (I get that), so the whole next day I was sick. From then on, it was so super fun for 11 nights.

    The drive back sucked so bad, my husband swore he'd never ever do that again!

    I get fares all the time from BWI on Southwest, very cheap.

    In short, I live near you. I would FLY. FLY. Did I say that? FLY.

    I priced out autotrain once. It is notoriously late, and it would have cost us so much more than flying. And it takes longer than our drive did.

    You don't mention where you plan on staying. If it's onsite, you don't need a rental car. If it's offsite, yeah, you will. And with your family, I guess you will need minimum fullsize, but obviously with strollers and such a van. Or you can save by taking a shuttle van to where you'll stay, then renting something smaller for the duration?
     
  10. happymommy

    happymommy DIS Veteran

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    Oh, sorry, I need to add:

    If you have more vacation time, then I'd drive.

    My issue is that my husband has little time, so he only joins us for a few day while we go. I'd never do the drive myself.

    If you have two weeks or so, then I'd drive. Do it in two days. But, I'd bring my own car. And we brought our huge double stroller, plastic bins with pantry food (we stayed at a DVC condo), laundry stuff, etc...

    If you only have one week, then that cuts down the time.

    And, I wouldn't want to do the Autotrain in coach with 6 people. Just like I won't fly to Hawaii coach anymore (we used to live there, and 12 hours in a coach seat I can't take).
     
  11. tinker-belle

    tinker-belle Mouseketeer

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    Auto train coach is not like air plane coach. We flew to Europe this summer, and I was soooo spoiled by auto train coach and felt so claustrophobic on the plane.
    On the auto train there is soooo much leg room. Your seat reclines most of the way back, and your feet come all the way in front, and there is still room between the chairs in front of you.
    We always took the train in January, this time we are taking it, it is 5 of us (my baby is free) and it costs 800.00 round trip. (we have a car, not a mini van, mini vans are slightly more to bring on the train), and the earlier out you book the cheaper it is. Kids ages 2-17 are half price of adults, and if you go in the summer kids are often free- last summer they were 19.00.
    We met a family onboard the auto train last time on the way back. She said she drove down, and told her kids if she had to drive back she was never going to leave, so she booked the auto train back.

    It's a bit hard for me to sleep well b/c I'm a horrible sleeper, my kids slept fine. I never had a problem with delays. The only annoyance is when you get there you have to wait for your car to be pulled off the train and once we had to wait 45 minutes which was annoying when we just wanted to drive through the disney gates already! ;)
     
  12. CastleCreations

    CastleCreations <font color=darkorchid>Would take a cruise just to

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    We love the auto train. We get the family sized bedroom that sleeps four. It's roomy enough for the short overnight trip.
     
  13. happymommy

    happymommy DIS Veteran

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    Wow - thanks for the info on autotrain!

    I had thought it would be like a bus. I couldn't deal with that.

    Plus, once I priced out a family cabin and it was way more than flying. We usually get about $150 round trip from BWI here, and I don't rent a car usually in Orlando. But that is cool to know - especially if we want our own car. For a long trip, I may actually look into it! We're planning to go to my folks' vacation house in Naples with my sister's family next summer, so we may do that and drive from Orlando (of couse with a stop at Disney!).

    Definitely worth a look. Or one way - that is a good idea. The drive home can be a pain, once the fun of the vacation wears off. Unless you have something to look forward to on the drive home, like South of the Border? Just kidding I've never stopped, but we thought the signs for over 200 miles were a hoot.
     
  14. Twoboysnmygirl

    Twoboysnmygirl DIS Veteran

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    We drove this past October and are pricing flights for next year b/c I really don't want to drive again!

    There are five of us, the drive was 17 hours total (with no stopping, so it took longer than 17) and we stopped overnight.

    I really thought I would enjoy it, but I didn't. Not only was it just too long, we spent as much as if we would have flied! Not only did it mean 4 travel days more to our trip which my dh had to miss work, but it was 4 more days of EATING (I have 2 teenage boys), gas, hotel overnight there and back. I added up what we spent and we could have just flied and saved the time and energy!
     
  15. Cedarmom

    Cedarmom Mouseketeer

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    I didn't know this existed! How cool. :thumbsup2
     
  16. SGB13

    SGB13 Mouseketeer

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    We also fly. DH hates to drive on vacation, to him that is extra work. Vacation should be about relaxing. So we start to relax the moment we go to the airport. :goodvibes
     
  17. GaSleepingBeautyFan

    GaSleepingBeautyFan DIS Veteran

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    I love to fly when I get the chance even though I'm only 8 hours away.

    If you could swing it, I'd fly and use Disney Transport so you wouldn't have to rent a car. I actually liked using DME and the buses at Disney when I went at the end of April.

    If you can't afford flying, I'd drive your own car to save the money. We always drive our own vehicles on trips even the last 22 hour drive to MN. I just make sure to get the vehicle checked over by our mechanic before we leave. I know my vehicle will get us there but I sure don't trust rental vehicles.
    The last one I rented from Enterprise had some interesting knocks and pings that shouldn't have been there and the inside of it was all stained. I was worried the thing was going to break down.
     
  18. emer95

    emer95 DIS Veteran

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    I never thought I'd be a fan of driving until I actually did it. We debated with this very same issue last April and we decided to drive because the savings were enormous. We live in NY, and we drove to Amelia Island, Flirda. We drove straight through overnight on the way down (WAY better than stopping. SO much better than stopping!!!). We left our house at around 4pm. We have DVDs for the kids and the excitement kept them going. We stopped for dinner at around 8:00 or so. Then they fell asleep, and my dh and I took turns sleeping and driving. By the time the kids woke up, we stopped for breakfast, drove for another 2 hours and we were there. It was not bad at ALL. Plus, we were able to bring all of the comforts of home. Our pillows, the kids' toys. cooler, snacks, etc.

    The way back was worse because we drove during the day and stopped overnight. It made it seem endless!! I wish I had listened to my husband and that we had driven straight through overnight like we did on the way down. We'll do it like that from now on.

    For us, especially in April, the cost savings made the difference between taking a trip and not taking a trip. It was a no brainer and I can honestly tell you, not bad at all!!
     
  19. Goofy_Dad_24

    Goofy_Dad_24 I got my swin trunks, and my flippy floppies

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    Can someone post a link to a website for this auto train? We were thinking of driving from Pittsburgh and visiting some friends in D.C. on the way, so maybe we could hop on the train there.
     
  20. tinker-belle

    tinker-belle Mouseketeer

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    Just go to www.amtrak.com and on the list is 'auto train'. Remember AAA gives you 10% off.
     
  21. Swimalie

    Swimalie DIS Veteran

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    We're going in March and we're in NoVA and we're flying out of Dulles. I agree with the others that driving takes time out of the vacation. For us, we drove to GA almost 3 years ago with our 20 month old. We thought he'd sleep since we left at his bed time. Nope! During the 13 hour LONG drive he slept maybe 4 hours. Four hours and then was supposed to be awake for the entire next day to socialize with people he had never met before. It was a nightmare.

    FLY!
     

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