flyvsdriveThe cost of gas, the amount of luggage you are bringing, and the number of people in your party are just a few things that you have to consider when deciding whether to fly or drive to your destination.  We consider all of these factors along with how much time we will spend driving versus flying.  As I was doing some research, I came across this Fly vs. Drive calculator on  You plug in all of your known information and it will calculate the approximate travel time and cost.  The fields include your starting and ending point, baggage fees, whether you need a rental car or not, how you are getting to the airport, what kind of car you will be driving, driving time per day, hotel stays and more. 

I will be headed to Orlando in a few months by myself and I am trying to decide whether I should fly or drive.  On the way to Orlando, I will be dropping our kids off with relatives in Panama City Beach, Florida (about a 2 hour drive from my house) and then will leave for Orlando from there.  Typically, to get to Orlando from Pensacola or Panama City Beach, you have to fly six hours north to Atlanta or Nashville and then you fly south to Orlando.  Silly, isn’t it?  But it is what it is.  This usually factors into our decision.  If I am going to be on a plane or in an airport for 8 hours, I would rather just drive.  We can stop when we want, see the sights along the way, and most likely save money. For this trip though, I am thinking about flying to Orlando via Southwest, which is a nonstop flight.  The nonstop flight is really what has me considering flying vs. driving. 

After guestimating my cost of flying vs. driving myself, I put all of my information into the Fly vs. Drive calculator.  The verdict was, well, about the same. (Information below is taken from my search on Fly vs. Drive)

Flying Details:


Driving time to the Panama City Beach airport (ECP): 17m

Time at ECP: 1h 30m

Estimated Flying Time: 1h 19m

Time at the Orlando airport (MCO): 23m

One Way Door-to-Door: 4h 15m

Cost for 1 Traveler:

Total Ticket Cost: $175 (Ticket cost assigned was $184
but I had already searched tickets so I changed the cost
to what I knew it would cost me.)

Total Baggage Fees: $0 on Southwest

Other Costs (Rental car, etc): $0

MCO Transportation (Shuttle): $12.30

Total Round-Trip Cost: $187.30

Driving Details:


Driving Time, each way: 6h 15m

Overnight Stops, each way: 0 nights

One Way Door-to-door: 6h 15m


Total Fuel Cost: $94.95 (This is low…I had figured about $180)

Wear and Tear: $38.40

Estimated Tolls: $20 (This is high…tolls will cost me about $8)

Total Round-Trip Cost: $153.35 

The difference to fly is only an additional $35 and I will probably spend that if I were to drive due to the cost of gas right now.  Since the difference is close enough to justify flying, now all I need to decide is which one I would rather do.  There are pros and cons to both flying and driving.  If I fly, I can enjoy some quiet reading on the plane and I won’t be driving one of the most boring drives (in my opinion!) by myself.  On the other hand, if I drive then I will have my car to come and go as I please and I won’t have to pay for shuttles to get to my destinations.

For information’s sake, I ran the Fly vs. Drive calculator again as if I was driving or flying with my kids and my husband on the trip.  I kept all of the major factors the same (no need for a rental car, no baggage fee, etc).  Although I knew we were saving money all these times we drove to Orlando as a family, I was glad to see what a difference driving makes!  We are a family of four and if we were all going, it would cost us approximately $712.30 to fly or $153.35 to drive.  Driving definitely makes more sense here!

There were a few minor errors or discrepancies when I was using Fly vs. Drive.  For some reason, it had me driving from Birmingham to Panama City before getting on the plane and I had to refresh the page twice before it reset.  I am not sure if I made an error along the way or if it was just a glitch.  The ticket cost was almost spot on, but I felt like the gas cost was low.  At the gas prices right now, it costs me about $60 to $70 to fill my tank.  We normally fill the tank right before we leave for Orlando, fill it when we are almost there, and then we have to fill it again on the way home.  Once I get home, I can usually drive around for another 3-5 days before refilling.  This would cost me about $180 for the trip as opposed to Fly vs. Drive’s approximate cost of $94.95. 

If you were in my shoes, which would you choose?  The luxury of flying or driving and having my car if I need it?