Driving vs. Flying: What’s the Decision Point?

My wife and I are traveling to Toronto on Wednesday to see her parents during the four-day weekend (extended a fifth day by my sneaky calendar-wrangling skills) and were trying to decide a few weeks ago whether to fly or drive.

The drive, at approximately ten hours, half of that through every tiny town in central Pennsylvania, is daunting, to be sure. However, when I checked on flights, ignoring the high cost for flying and getting a rental car during a holiday weekend, I still came to the conclusion that the drive was the smart way to go.

My calculations were like this: arrive to the airport three hours early to allow for extra holiday crowding, fly four hours (through Cincinnati or somewhere), then wait for luggage on the other end, get the rental car and you are at ten hours or close to it. Plus add in hassles with security, being pressed next to other cranky, sweaty passengers and having airport food, and what is the appeal?

When flying no longer saves time and costs much more than the alternative, you can count me out. Give me the open road, my own car, my own food and several hours across coal country. I’m good with that. I just hope the traffic isn’t terrible. At least the security lines on the way to my car are relatively short.

5 Comments so far

  1. Mik (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 7:58 am

    Driving isn’t so bad. I drove from Norfolk, Va to Windsor, ON for the world series. Lemme tell ya – Ohio has the cleanest rest stops ever. I love Ohio. I would have Ohio’s babies. I did the drive back solo and thankfully played leap frog with a few people who clearly had radar dectors. That, sirius and friends calling kept me sane.

  2. tom (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 9:13 am

    I did DC to toronto a few years back and its not too bad. I did it home at night and as long as you keep your eyes on the road they’re not too bad. PA roads are a bit sketch in general, but the roads up to Toronto aren’t any worse than the rest of the state. Also you get to see niagra falls…which if you haven’t seen it is awesome. I would suggest having satellite radio. I would ahve loved to have had that on my trip. Also the little league baseball hall of fame is on the route! woo hoo!

  3. StrongBraveandFree (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 9:25 am

    When you have two people driving to Toronto from DC, ten hours in the car ain’t bad and at Williamsport, PA, about midpoint, you can check out the Little League Museum and Reptiland. All off Rte 15. The problem is that you will spend two of your days off driving so I might suggest flying, if your time is priority.

    I usually fly Air Canada (approx $300, incl taxes, etc.). It flies direct into Toronto Pearson International Airport in 1-1/2 hours from National. The view is amazing when you fly – you see the skyline of Toronto (Dome, CN Tower, Harborfront) and DC (the last time I flew back in – it was a gorgeous day, I saw a great view of the National Cathedral, Potomac, G’town, the Mall – just makes me appreciate living in DC so much!).

    Good luck with the drive – too bad there’s no Steak ‘n’ Shakes nor White Castles to stop by like they have in the midwest (isn’t Ohio considered the midwest – I’m not sure since I’m Canadian).

  4. StrongBraveandFree (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 9:28 am

    P.S. Have a Tim Horton’s donut for me! And here is the link to Air Canada again.

  5. Steve (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 1:09 pm

    Another option is to fly to Buffalo and rent a car from there; it’s a relatively short drive to Toronto. Southwest flies to Buffalo, so ticket prices are really cheap.

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