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Headed to the TravelingMom Retreat in Orlando – or anywhere from Maine to Florida – our EastCoast TravelingMom would always rather drive than fly. Learn the 7 reasons why she says, for her, it’s road trips forever – and how a Ford Explorer made this trek particularly comfortable.
On The Road Again
The time – 3 a.m.
The date – April 25, a Tuesday
The characters – one perky teen, one world-weary 20-something, one excited 6 year old newcomer to road trips, one total theme park fanatic, and me
The route – New Jersey to Orlando, and a thousand miles in between
This sets the scene for our road trip to Orlando, the latest of numerous road trips my family takes each year. This one is one we’ve done before, so we know our route well. From our home in South Jersey, Orlando is approximately 11 and a half hours away. But once we decided we were going, there was no doubt in our minds – we were driving, not flying.
Read More: Should You Drive or Fly? How to Decide
The truth is, driving is my default choice whenever we’re traveling. Oh sure, there are times when a flight is a must. If we’re just going for a long weekend, sometimes flying is smarter to maximize our time at the destination. And, although when we’re traveling as a family, driving is considerably cheaper, when we’re on a “couple’s trip,” the price may be comparable. After all, we only get so many vacation days a year. How many do we really want to spend on the road?
Well, a lot, actually. Because in the years we’ve been taking road trips, I’ve learned that I’ve come to love the journey just as much as the destination. Why? Well, let me share with you the seven reasons I’ll always say, “Yes, please!” when a road trip is suggested.
7 Reasons Why I Prefer Driving to Flying
1. Comings and Goings Pt. 1 – I’m in Control
Sure, the skies may be friendly when you’re flying. Then again, sometimes they’re not. I went to college in Indiana, which meant flying home for holidays. More times than not, I’d end up with my flight delayed (this being Chicago in the winter – 0r even fall – the weather charted our course). I’ve spent so much time in O’Hare the Hare Krishnas knew me by first name.
Even the last time we flew to Orlando, we had to take an earlier flight home than we originally booked. Not because of the weather in Florida, of course, which was living up to its sunny reputation. No, we had to cut our vacation short because of what was going on back home (a hurricane warning, if I recall).
If I’m driving, I have control over when I leave and when I stay. If I wake to leave at 5 a.m. and find it’s pouring, I have the choice of delaying the trip a couple of hours or heading off into the rain. And if I do decide to delay my trip, I can wait those hours out in my own bed. Did you ever try getting comfortable on one of those hard plastic airport chairs?
2. Comings and Goings Pt. 2 – Control Again, Naturally
Okay, yes, I have control issues. But when you’re planning a trip for a large group (we have five kids), it’s hard enough juggling everyone’s schedule to arrange for a trip. And just when I think I know the perfect time to leave….the airlines tell me otherwise. I’d try to book a flight, only to learn they only had availability at 10:25 p.m. on a weekday. Or 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
I want to go when I want to go, thank you very much. Road trips allow me that control, and so much more.
3. It’s So Much More Comfortable
For our latest road trip (the one I mentioned earlier), we had it nice. Ford, a sponsor of the TravelingMom’s retreat (my destination), lent us a 2017 Explorer for the trip to Orlando. And let me tell you, it was nice. This SUV had all the luxury features we could think of and all the safety standards we’d ever need. My husband raved about the heated steering wheel, which would come in handy on cold winter mornings. My younger daughter was over the moon when she saw the Sirius radio had a Broadway station. The older one enjoyed the climate control capabilities, allowing her “space” to be cooler than the rest of us.
And I fell in love with that little orange light which told me when a vehicle was in my blind spot. I need one of those for every aspect of my life, pronto!
That being said, I find travel by car more comfortable than travel by plane – no matter what vehicle we’re driving. After all, the space you’re paying for on a plane is itsy bitsy (and I am not!). I don’t want to spend my travel time feeling claustrophobic. Personal space on a plane is reserved for first class (or so I’m told, as I’ve never flown that way). In a car, we all can be first class passengers.
4. Room for the Rest of the Stuff
The hidden costs of air travel are enough to drive me crazy. And who am I – who packs 8 pairs of shoes for a weekend trip, just in case – to limit the amount of luggage my kids need for a week in Florida?
When we drive, we can bring all the luggage we want (or practically – my husband does try to cap my shoe count at four). And if we buy a lot of souvenirs, who cares? We can always make room for another package – without any additional cost. (This really came in handy at this year’s retreat, when I won a new suitcase. The Ford Explorer handled it nicely. I’m not sure what we would have done if we were flying!
5. Roadside Attractions
Singer Harry Chapin once said, “It’s got to be the going, not the getting there, that’s good.” The older I get, the more I agree. Maybe that’s deep – or maybe just corny. But I do know that when we fly, there’s not much good in the “getting there.”
When we drive, however, we make the ride as much fun as possible. Depending where we go, we pick out roadside attractions. We visit regional restaurants, and we purchase crazy local souvenirs.
During the trip to Orlando, we drove the I-95 corridor, which reaches from Maine all the way to Florida. The route is dotted with roadside attractions, a literal highway of something for everyone. Literary travelers can choose the Poe House in Baltimore (just around the corner from the tattoo museum). There’s a Paranormal Museum in North Carolina, with notable displays about Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Or welcome UFOs at the UFO Welcome Center (yes, it’s a thing!) in South Carolina.
We’d seen all these places on previous trips – and had a blast. This time around, we were going to skip the museums. But we did find the world’s biggest Adirondack chair at a rest stop in Dunn, NC. And then there was South of the Border, right across the SC line (and our half way point – yay!)
We did have a rule on this trip. We agreed to eat nothing in the car. (Full disclosure: after a couple of states, we amended the rule to “Nothing but water.”) Because, after all, the Ford Explorer was a loaner, and we wanted to respect that.
But when we stopped – be it for a meal, like we did Tuesday morning in Virginia, or for a rest stop – we could eat whatever we wanted. And if we had been in our own vehicle, I’m sure we’d have packed a cooler.
Compare that to airline food – if you can call a bag of nuts and a half-can of Diet Sprite “food.”
7. Bonding Time
And really, the most important reason I prefer driving to flying is the hours it gives us together. We see the country, we play games, we point out unusual sites and we make requests for playlists or podcasts. And we talk to each other.
Somehow, that never happens on a plane. And even if it did, we couldn’t speak as freely, surrounded by strangers.
Of course, we do have a large family. So there are times we have chosen to rent a van or SUV rather than use our own car.
(TravelingMom Tip: Did you know that you can get rental car insurance from companies such as Allianz Global Assistance, which specializes in travel insurance? Yes, the same company that will protect you if your flight is cancelled also covers cars for road trips. can also sell you a collision damage waiver for just $9 a day. Don’t let them upsell you at the rental car counter!)
So, be it in a beautiful borrowed Ford Explorer, a rental car or one of our own trusty autos, I’d rather travel with my family on the open road – not over it. We may take a little longer reaching our destination, but vacation bonding is happening from the moment we leave our driveway.
This post was sponsored by Ford Motors and by Allianz Insurance. Opinions are, of course my own.