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When planning a trip, choosing where to go is the easy part. There are so many good options, it’s hard to make a bad choice.
Getting there, however has long been a subject of debate. Is flying the better option? Or are there reasons why a road trip should be considered?
Likely, you have had to hold off on travel for a bit. But, when the time is right, you know exactly where you are going first.
And after careful consideration, you have settled on a road trip.
Sure, you would love to fly to some exotic locale to do some exotic things and meet some exotic people.
And if you fly, your vacation starts as soon as you land.
But alas! Circumstances leave you no choice but to load up the car and hit the open road.
It begs the question though: Are road trips just a consolation prize? Or, is a road trip actually better than flying?
To be honest, flying is no longer the fun part of a trip. It’s a means to an end.
We have come to accept it as an unpleasant link to a happier and healthier life. Like a colonoscopy.
That said, I would like to make the argument that road trips are actually a better alternative. In fact, here are the top 21 reasons that a road trip is better than flying.
1. Flexible Schedule
This may be the most underrated reason to choose a road trip over flying.
In a given week, how much “free” time do you actually have?
In reality, you need a break. And not just from work or school. Your whole life runs on a schedule.
Relax a bit. For these precious few days or weeks, time is at your mercy for a change. This is your chance for revenge on the rat race.
2. Pack What You Want.
And not just a pillow or extra shoes. If you can fit it in, on, or otherwise attached to your car, you can take it.
This is especially helpful when traveling with a toddler. I’ve seen families with a semi trailer for a Pack ‘N Play.
If you’re flying, you have to make critical choices. This article is entitled: Flying With a Toddler – How to Survive!
On a road trip, everyone lives.
3. No Security Checks.
Don’t get me wrong. We love to fly. But am I the only one who feels like a kindergarten criminal?
On a road trip, at least you know the person yelling at you for the way you packed.
4. You Don’t Have To Use A Linen Closet For A Bathroom.
You’ll never be jostled around while taking sniper aim and trying not to touch anything.
There are plenty of clean options when driving. And in an emergency, the highway itself is at your disposal.
5. Bring Your Pets.
Monkeys, goats, and pigs among other animals are specifically banned from passenger airlines.
After this flight, even turkeys have been added to that list.
On the road – anything goes.
Family dog? Of course! Pet turtle? Why not.
When driving, it’s not unusual to see someone with a trailer full of horses. Most airlines won’t even let you bring one horse!
6. It’s cheaper.
Flying is more than just the ticket price. It also includes baggage costs (if you wanna bring more than a pair of socks), parking or transportation to the airport, rental car, and inflated airport food. The total cost of driving does need to account for wear and tear as well as maintenance.
Even with maintenance calculated, the actual cost is around 20 cents per mile. AAA has a handy estimate for this.
7. You don’t have to pay extra to check your email.
Which I’ve always thought was ironic. Shouldn’t it be cheaper as you get closer to the satellites?
8. You Can Bring More Than 3oz Of Fluid
For the life of me, I’ve never been able to figure out what harm someone could do with 4oz of shampoo.
9. Only travel with the people you want.
I know you have memories of being stuck in the car with your siblings.
But on a plane, everyone is touching you.
10. You can roll your windows down.
Even more welcome when traveling with your siblings.
11. You Can Clean And Sanitize Yourself.
Not sanitize yourself, but you can sanitize your surroundings all by yourself.
I found a stuffed bunny and a tomato slice on a Delta flight once.
I don’t know why I just told you that.
12. Leg room that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg
In your car, you don’t have to put your bag under the seat in front of you. The seats lay back more than two degrees. And you don’t need to be a contortionist to plug in your phone.
All of this at no extra charge. How novel, right?
13. A better way to meet people.
As you drive through towns, you can stop and meet the people you rarely see from 30,000 feet. And if they’re weird, you can leave.
People you meet on the road are generally interesting.
On a plane, they are very interesting.
We all typically try to isolate ourselves with our devices when flying. I’m guilty of it. I don’t want to be bothered. And I don’t want to annoy anyone else. Especially my wife.
But in doing so it makes our world smaller. We are the center of our universe.
On the other hand, on the open road with the radio cranked. The scenery drifts by opening up the world to us. We become a part of the story. We are not mere passers-by. Nor are we the central character. But we see our role in a much wider narrative.
We spend enough time on our distractions. Road trips allow us to focus on some of life’s greatest attractions.
15. Enjoy the wildlife
Tallying deer, hawks, or drifters are great games to play with your kids.
Conversely, encounters with wildlife in the air are most unwelcome.
A road trip may be one of the best ways to teach your kids. Things like geography when reading maps and nature when passing wildlife.
Also, which direction to face when peeing on the side of the road.
At the very least you will instill a love for adventure that they will continue to explore for the rest of their lives.
17. No jet lag.
Fly for 12 hours and you are wrecked for the first couple of days of your trip. Drive for 12 and you will sleep like a baby, ready for a warm cup of coffee and a sunrise.
18. Pocket knives
They are not just acceptable. They are encouraged.
And no one assumes that you have nefarious intentions. Except your parents.
And they are probably right. (Remind me to tell you about my first pocket knife.)
19. Road trips fit any style of travel
Throw on your bikes, strap down your kayaks, drag your boat, or drive your home.
Whether an adventurous weekender or a curious wanderer, road trips are the ultimate vacation customizer. Or a way of life if you keep going. Like these guys.
Road trips are the premier “choose your own adventure.”
20. You can pick up hitchhikers
This one’s not for everyone. But if it is your thing, it’s virtually impossible on a plane.
21. You’ve Never Heard Of A Soccer Team Crashing On A Road Trip And Eating Each Other.
I’m just sayin.
There you have it. The top 21 reasons why driving is better than flying.
I can only think of one singular advantage that flying has over driving: You don’t have to follow a moron with their turn signal on for 45 miles of construction traffic. I mean, Come on, man!
Otherwise, road trips are the ideal way to travel.
Maybe your vacation starts as soon as you land when flying. But when driving, it starts when you leave your driveway.
And if we keep making lists like this we may just convince ourselves that we would much rather drive than fly. Even if we did have a choice.
If you are ready to plan your next road trip, make sure to read our definitive 7 Best Road Trips in America.
They say life’s a journey, not a destination. So why not enjoy the ride?
Can you think of any other reasons why a road trip is better than flying? Or, do you have a counter argument?
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The road begins where the driveway ends. We’ll see you out there.