Fly or Drive? How to Travel in 2021

April 17, 2021, 9:48 PM · The past 14 months have changed a lot of attitudes about travel. Deciding whether to fly or drive on a vacation has made people weigh factors such as cost, time spent traveling and even safety. But the pandemic has changed that equation for many people.

Those who lost work at any point over the past year might not be able to afford more expensive travel options anymore. Those who had to change jobs and now don't have much vacation time to spare might not be able to go for a more leisurely trip for a while. And the safety equation now means much more than just accident rates. Even if you are vaccinated, do you want risk having your unvaccinated child sitting near some anti-masker who's "drinking his Coke" during your entire flight?

Surveys suggest that many people will end up sitting out this summer vacation season in the hopes that the pandemic situation and the economy will change for the better in 2022. But many people - including theme park fans - are making plans for this summer. I would like to know how you're planning to get to your destinations this year.

Choosing between flying and driving feels to me like asking which is my favorite child. I love them both, equally. But they are different. Distance is not a deterrent in driving for me, as I adore cross-country roadtrips. (I have made five coast-to-coast driving trips so far.) I have missed I-70 through Glenwood Canyon in Colorado, the bayous in Louisiana and stopping at Buc-ee's in Texas over the past year.

But there's nothing that excites me in travel like walking into an airport for flight to somewhere far away. Getting into your car, you could be driving to the grocery instead of across the country. But there's no such ambiguity when you walk into an airport. It's travel time.

That said, money, time and safety all factor into the decision whether I can fly or drive for a trip - just as they did before the pandemic. So, what are you feeling about this summer and the rest of the year?

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Replies (9)

April 17, 2021 at 10:26 PM

Flying of course but only once I get my vaccine in May or June. Fingers crossed its sooner rather then later but we are definitely planning a visit to Universal Orlando for HHN.

April 17, 2021 at 11:28 PM

I driving for my plans. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and recently bought a new electric vehicle. I'll be doing a number of road trips more because of the car and my office-less job than outright not flying.

April 18, 2021 at 4:18 AM

For me this year it's driving. Here in the UK we have to look at flying for most serious vacation trips but the current situation is making that less appealing right now. I'm not frightened of catching Coronavirus on a flight (the statistics show there's very, very little chance of that happening), but the uncertainty around quarantining and testing requirements makes any thought of flying a bit of a gamble for the foreseeable future and the prospect of having to wear a mask for the whole flight makes it really unappealing, given that I still really struggle with masks in any situation.
The last holiday we had was in 2019 and was a driving tour from the UK to Austria. I didn't enjoy the journey back but we enjoyed the concept enough to have booked a trip to Ireland this September, taking our own car. There's a lot to be said for the flexibility of being able to take whatever you want (so long as you can get it into the trunk!) and there's a definite sense of adventure as you pull out of your drive knowing you're about to embark on a real adventure. I probably won't fly again until 2023.

April 18, 2021 at 10:24 AM

Anything over 6 hours will be flying for me. I don’t like driving too long from a distance because of my skin color(I don’t want to get stuck on a shady place after dark, if you know what I mean).

April 18, 2021 at 11:53 AM

Would prefer to fly but with the prices of rental cars because of the rental car shortage, I’ll drive.

April 18, 2021 at 3:23 PM

Living in SoCal, my general rule of thumb is that if I'm staying on the west side of the Rockies I'll drive, and if I'm crossing to the east side I'll fly. I have occasionally made exceptions to that, but in general it's too time consuming to drive when your target destinations are over half way across the country. That's not to say I don't prefer driving, as all things being equal I'd choose to do so 100% of the time, but it's often not practical for the types of trips I'm planning. Therefore, this year's trip will be like most others: Fly to a starting point, and then road trip from there around the region.

April 18, 2021 at 6:04 PM

My parents actually flying to Florida as mom has a conference there, both vaccinated last month. I got my first shot, getting my second in a few weeks but only vacations in my future occasional car ride to our Michigan lake house. I would like to get back to WDW but obviously wait a bit for things to settle.

April 18, 2021 at 10:59 PM

Flying. I always appreciate a good nap on the plane.

April 20, 2021 at 1:30 PM

The Train. Nothing beats it. The turn up and go of a bus, the comfort of a plane, and they go to the place you want to go, not some field some distance from your actual destination.

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