flying vs. driving


Earning My Ears
Jan 4, 2001
My family is going to WDW in June. We are trying to decide if we should fly and rent a car(our hotel is off property) or if we should just drive from home(Texas). We are on a very tight budget and every penny counts. Any advice would be helpful and appreciated.
My personal opinion is that if your car is up to the drive, skip the flight. The price of a flight is fixed, but you can determine (somewhat) what driving will cost. We drove once from Chicago and once from Lafayette, IN. Just pack a cooler with frozen grapes, sandwich meat, etc. - ala the movie "Vacation" but without the dog's contribution :)

The travel stops on the highways have coupons for cheap hotels to sleep before you hit the road again. Airfare doesn't seem very good right now either. I don't know about you, but now I want to drive instead of fly. Please take this with a grain of salt, though, as I am not sure if you are less than 12 hours away and that I am terrified of flying!!!! (I'm being forced to fly in August for the first time in my life.)

Good luck on your decision and have a great trip!!!!

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We are from PA. and have driven the 5 times that we have gone to Disney.It is approx. 18 hours to drive.We drive straight through to avoid the cost of an extra nights stay in a hotel.It usually costs us about $250. for gas and tolls.We have a GMC Suburban which is not the most fuel efficient way to go,but it is the most comfortable.This also allows us to switch drivers(2 of us)and get some rest on the way. We compared to the cost of flying for the same time and flying for our family of 4 would have cost about $800-900. Just could not bring ourselves to spend that much to save some time.We felt our money was much better spent on having a good time at Disney.Hope this helps.Thanks for listening. Dgpapabear
Since you say you are on a tight budget I think driving is the way to go. We have driven from Long Island, NY seven times in the past 4 yrs. We leave at 8 pm and I drive through the the night while the rest of the family sleeps. The trip is about 17-18 hrs.& when the sun comes up we switch drivers. The drive at night is virtually traffic free. This usually gets us to Disney around 1pm. The cost for us to fly with a family of 6 would run about $1,000. The drive is less than $200. Plus you have to consider the cost of the car rental of about $180 for week at its cheepest. A lot depends on the size of your family.

I have done both from northern Indiana (palmtreedreams, we're neighbors--Rensselaer!)and it's about a 20-hour drive. When the kids were all young and went with us, the cost of flying was too much for us so we packed a cooler, and hit the road about 5 p.m. The kids would fall asleep, and we would take turns driving/sleeping and it was really kind of fun. It was great to pull in to the welcome center in Fla. just as the sun came up. The kids would get so excited.
Now, there are just two of us (and I have more $$) and I can get on the plane in Indy at 7 and be driving out of the airport at 10. Which do I like better? Well, I would rather spend those extra hours at WDW. But I have fond memories of those drives down.
ok. Now you all have me wanting to drive!!! You are absolutely right. The feeling you have when you cross the Florida state line and watching the sunrise while you're driving can't be beat!!!

The best trip I ever took with my parents was when we spent days in the car together going all over Minnesota on a very tight budget- we couldn't afford WDW. Last time my husband and I drove, we saw the most beautiful rainbow in the morning in Florida. You never forget things like that. Plus to save money on top of it- awesome!!!

I can't imagine how a plane ride could compare quality time wise. Lucky you!!!!

ps - Hi cdrn1! Nice to meet a fellow Hoosier! I love how friendly people are in Indiana compared to the other states I've lived in! (Although this weather has to go - too cold!!!!)

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Howdy fellow Texan. You didn't say what part of Texas or how many members in your family, but I wanted to share our plans with you. We are driving from the Houston area. There are 5 members in my family so flying on our budget is not an option. Lowest flight I have found for our dates(Nov.17-22) is $278 per person. This is our first trip so I am trying to over budget to be on the safe side. So far we have figured it this way: Gas $200 for total trip (we drive a van)
Hotel $200 ($100 each way, but I've found some as low as $62 a night with a full breakfast the next morning.)
Food $100 (This should be more then we need-- we are packing an ice chest and lots of snacks.)
This is just our on the road budget. $500 compared to $1390 to fly. Also lots of sights on the internet where you can print out activities and coloring pages for your children.. I'm also planning on hitting our local "Everything is a dollar" store for other things to keep us busy on the road. We are looking forward to some great family time. Good Luck with planning your trip and believe me reading this board will help-- we where able to add and extra night after all the great tips we got here!!

We are in the middle of the same dilemma right now. There are 5 in our family (DS's will be 9, 7, & 3.5). We don't have a van, so tv/vcr is not an option. It's about an 18 hr. drive. The only reason I am even considering driving is that we could save between $800 and $900 dollars over the cost of airfare and car rental. More opinions please.

I did say in my above post that we have a van. Sorry if I miss lead anyone-- we don't have and can not afford a TV/VCR. I figured if we buy one the cost could have been added to the car-trip budget and we could fly. When I was little we did car trips every summer-- didn't have TV/VCR's back then. But those are some of the best memories I have growing up. My children need some time away from TV. I know you can buy some cool childrens cassettes with great songs on them--anything but 99 bottles of rootbeer on the wall. LOL. Once I bought my children an activity that came with little "clingy" flat plastic characters. They come in a box and cling to a background in the box--but they also stick to windows. I'm still looking and could also use any tips on "family things to do in the car".
We've flown and driven to Orlando from Chicago 2 times each with our girls, 4 and 2. Even though flying takes a lot less time, it's still a hassle for me when we're at the airport and I'm trying to keep the kids at bay while my husband tries to get our luggage, get us to the car rental shuttle, get on the shuttle (while everyone tries to get in front of the lady with the two kids who's taking too long) etc. not to mention trying to keep the kids occupied (read - QUIET) on the plane. We have a van now, but we also drove down in a Honda Civic Hatchback when it was just my daughter (2 mos.) me and my hubby. I have the most fond memories of that drive even though it was an exhausting one.

We fly when we absolutely have to, like to California because we tried a drive to the Grand Canyon and LasVegas in 1998 and that went on forever and ever.
We drove for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it was great. I want to share with you what worked for us.
We took the smallest TV we owned(from the kitchen- a 9") and our VCR from home and then we bought a car adaptor(from Costco for $40)and wa-la we had a TV-VCR for the car.
The best thing I did was figure out where we wanted to spend the night on the road ahead of time(I used mapquest-they give travel times)I then went to priceline and got 2 rooms for the stop overs. I got the first room for $9 a night and ended up with a beautiful Comfort Inn that came with breakfast! On the way back we ended up with a Holiday Inn with a indoor pool for $5 a night! That really saved us money on our tight budget

All Star Sports Oct 2000
HIFS & Sheraton World Feb 2001
Just came back from WDW to Lodi, NJ (18-19 hrs
straight thru) Did not stop going...but I
would not advise it unless you have a few drivers.
On the way back, we stopped in Va.($50 for the
room was WELL WORTH IT!)
Good luck!!!!

Also, make sure the car is COMFY!!!!!

We have driven to WDW from Lafayette, LA 10 times or so in the past 3 years. We plan on driving again this June. It takes us about 11.5-12 hours and thats with about 5 stops. We have a TV/VCR that the children watch and I bring a cooler with lots of snacks. When we leave in the early morning, we drive straight through but when we leave at around 4 in the afternoon, we spend the night in Pensacola at a hotel with the free breakfast buffet! From Pensacola, it takes about 7 hours for us.

Even with our big gas tank, we have GMC Suburban too, the cost for driving is a lot cheaper than 4 plane tickets and a rental car. The kids also get excited when we get to I 75 from I-10. From that intersection, it is 3 hours and when you reach the turnpike, you have about 1.5 hours!

If you have the time/vacation days, you won't be sorry driving. Good luck on your decision.

we are a family of 6.. I can't afford the air fare for all six of us.. This coming Dec my husband isn't going to be able to take as many days off as I am.. So here is what we are doing and I think it is going to work GREAT, and save me a few more gray hairs.
Me and our 3 daughters 10, 5 and 5 are going to drive now. I've been driving to Fl since I was 16.. so I'm not worried about the trip.. Then we will arrive 2 or 3 days earlier then my husband and Noah( son). Which will work out GREAT because we can do get christmas decorations and see the resorts before Noah and Rob arrives..

Rob and NOah will be flying. Rob will have free mileage and we only have to pay for Noah. Noah isn't good in the car so this will be awesome.

However the next trip we will have to take the van for all of us.. 200 per person for air is 1200 I could spend at disney. :)

Next trip Dec 17-27 2001
ºoº Lindaºoº
We have had custom vans since our third child was born. ( We stopped after number 5 was born!) We drove for many years while the children were all smaller. We would stay for two weeks so the drive never seemed to be a problem. Load the kids in at about 6:00p.m, see the sunrise in Georgia the next day ( it was beautiful!)and pull into Disney anywhere from 11:30 to 1:00pm . I have fond memories of those wonderful days. Now that the kids are college,high school, middle school,and elementary age, we can no longer go for two week periods, so we have switched to flying. I enjoy the fact that we can be there in just over 2 hours, and that I am not exhausted for the first day or so. Flying is a hassle, but I can deal with it. I am glad that we drove when the kids were younger, and I would not trade those trips for anything. ( It's those memories that make flying, "bittersweet"!) But I do enjoy the speed of air travel. ;)
Hello! We're Hoosiers as well (near Indy). We have driven 3 out of 4 times to WDW and prefer that. Sure it's a long trip, but it's much cheaper than flying! It would cost us around $600 to fly (assuming $200/ticket), around $75 to park at airport (I think), and, of course, the rental (it's not that necessary). Oh, there's nothing like getting to the FL line and getting the free OJ :) That's a tradition for us (except the time we drive straight through the night... won't ever do that again!) We took our camper down this past Oct. Now, THAT was a LONG trip! Also, if you can get a tv/vcr combo, it's wonderful! They've come down in prices (around $200, I think, at Circuit City), but make sure you can anchor it down. We had my dad build us something to do just that (he makes cabinets). It very secure in our van (NO BUNGIES!)

Good luck and have fun whichever you do. OH, if flying makes it impossible to afford... DRIVE! You just have to go ;)

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I am driving to WDW for the first time in about 3 weeks. Last June myself and 2 DSs flew via AirTran. From Akron-Canton Airport to Atlanta Georgia and then to Orlando took 10 hours!!! I was not happy. It took 2 months of letters and phone calls after this ordeal to AirTran for them to give me a certificate for 3 free one-way trips. I have to use them by June 30th and I'm not even looking forward to using them. How much worse can driving be? TC
If your family is large, if you cannot get cheap airfare, if you are able to spare the time without losing days off your vacation stay, then definitely consider driving. Our drive is only about 10-12 hours but it's so worth it to us.

When we've flown, we lived further away and found a great deal on a fly-drive package that essentially gave us the car rental for free. Other times I flew for short solo trips. That's worth it but it still takes half a day, between the waiting time at the airports and the plane switch.


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