Driving vs. Flying? The Guide to Knowing What’s Better and When.

You are highly likely to travel by airplane for trips that take you overseas. On the other hand, if you are traveling to a destination that is only a couple of hours away, you might prefer to drive.

Trips that area few hundred miles long can be made by either plane or car. So, the question is, should you drive or fly?

Here, we analyze the factors and help you decide.

Driving or Flying to Your Destination – a Close Look

1. Age

If you happen to be traveling with an infant that is barely a few months old, or you are over 60 and have a difficult time getting around, flying might be the better option.

You don’t want to be stuck at a motel in the middle of nowhere with your newborn in an emergency. It’s also difficult, to say the least, to care for a child inside a car. The constant motion is upsetting and wakes them constantly.

If you are a senior citizen or have severe health conditions like high blood pressure, you might not be suited to drive long distances.

Flying is the obvious choice in both these cases.

2. Fear Factor

According to the Washington Post, about 40% of Americans suffer from anxiety when it comes to flying, and 2.5% have a phobia of flying. They will not board a plane, no matter what.

It’s easy to understand the stress. A metal tube that flies long distances at least twice daily and is subjected to extreme temperature and pressure changes sounds scary.

Though modern aircraft are exceptionally well made and durable, incidents such as the grounding of the Boeing 737-Max have added to the fear factor.

If you suffer from a fear of flying, it’s best that you stick to cars and asphalt.

3. Time

Time is easily the biggest advantage of flying. On average, a jet aircraft speeds along at about 600 miles per hour.

The longest popular flight routes in the U.S. are between Los Angeles and New York. This is a distance of 2,780 miles (4,474 kilometers), and the average flight time is 5.5 hours.

That means you can be at a meeting in New York in the afternoon if you depart Los Angeles by 7:00 A.M. It’s impossible to deny the sheer efficiency of flying.

But, what about shorter distances – LA to Las Vegas, or even San Francisco? By plane, it takes about an hour.

That hour is preceded by the hassle surrounding boarding passes and TSA. If you have a lot of luggage that needs to be checked in, this could add another hour. Driving might indeed be a better idea in such a situation.

In all, the flight time of an hour quickly swells significantly more when you take the formalities and travel time to the airport into consideration.

For many, it might be easier to drive if the destination is no more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) away.

4. Fuel & Economy

Believe it or not, this is where airplanes are the clear winner.

The latest Boeing 747-8 burns five gallons per mile. That sounds like a lot until you think about the 550 passengers on board.

That works out to less than 0.01 gallons per person per mile, or 10 gallons per 1,000 miles.

On the other hand, the latest hybrid Toyota Camry gets 44 mpg, or 22 gallons per 1,000 miles.

A Ford F-150 consumes 24 mpg, or 41 gallons per 1,000 miles.

Does it translate to being cheaper? That is hazy at best (and unknowable at worst).

5. Safety

There are five million auto accidents in the US every year. In 2019, out of these millions of incidents, 33,244 were fatal, resulting in 36,096 deaths.

But, to put it into perspective, there are several billion car trips annually.

In the same year, there were 1,302 incidents involving aircraft, and the number of deaths was 452. Only four involved a commercial airline. The number of people who traveled by commercial airline in 2019 was 926 million. four out of 926,000,000 is impressive.

To equal the number of auto-related deaths, 70 fully occupied 747s would have to crash every year. On average, there is one plane crash every year.

Statistically speaking, flying is safer.

6. Other Factors

When you are flying, there is no hidden cost. 

You pay for the cab ride to airport, tickets and associated airport charges and taxes, and then the cab ride from the airport.

When you are driving, you have to factor in motel costs, parking charges, cost of car repair, auto insurance, depreciation, food, and much more.

With an overnight stay at a decent hotel, your trip cost is easily double that of gasoline.

There are advantages, too though. For a family, it would be less expensive to travel by car or SUV. The latter also allows you to pack in four large suitcases and a dog.

Moreover, many prefer a road trip since you get to renew yourself and bond with the other passengers.

Don’t Forget Insurance

Travel has become an essential part of life. Sometimes it is fun, and other times it can be a chore. However, what has not changed is the need for insurance.

Travel insurance is a must-have. Mechanical failure or inclement weather can make your vacation plans vanish in an instant. To give yourself the opportunity to be compensated for your expenses, always buy insurance.

Buying an insurance plan takes less than five minutes when you can filter, compare, and then purchase a plan online. That’s what thousands of travelers do at Insubuy every week. We encourage you to browse through the 700+ 5-star reviews on TrustPilot, should you need another reason.

In the End…

There is no specific answer to the never-ending debate between flying vs. driving. It all depends on personal preferences. Of course, you can use the reasons listed above to help make your decision.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?


For visitors, travel, student and other international travel medical insurance.

Visit insubuy.com or call +1 (866) INSUBUY or +1 (972) 985-4400