Should I drive or fly when moving cross country?

There are many stressful aspects to the process of moving but organizing the successful shipment of your household goods is considered to be the most challenging of them all. So, it’s only logical that when planning a residential move, you will be preoccupied with ensuring the safety of your items and avoiding potential troubles down the relocation path: you will be looking for trustworthy movers; sorting out and organizing your possessions; packing them with great care to provide the best possible protection; preparing your home for the movers; and so on. What you may be forgetting amidst the hectic moving preparations, however, is that you need to not only take care of your belongings, but also to find a safe and efficient way to get to your new home yourself.

If you are moving cross-country with your family, you will be probably wondering whether to fly or to drive to your final destination. Both options have certain advantages and disadvantages, so you should think the matter over very carefully in order to choose the traveling method that will be the most beneficial for you and your family.

Is it better to fly or drive to your new home – things to consider

There are many economical and practical considerations to take into account when choosing a travel mode to your new home but what matters the most is to make your trip as easy and convenient for you and your family as possible. Your best strategy is to pick the transportation option that will keep stress down to a minimum.

1) Time

When it comes to long distance moves, time will be of paramount consideration. If you (or a member of your family) have limited time off or need to take care of something important shortly after the move, you won’t be able to afford to spend a long time on the road.

Flying will help you arrive at your final destination faster than any other mode of transportation. It will also give you more time to explore your new surroundings and get your new home ready before your items arrive. So, flying is your best option if you have any urgent commitments or if you don’t like the idea of spending several days traveling in your car.

On the other hand, if you have plenty of free time and find the idea of dragging your children and/or pets on a long flight quite daunting and inappropriate, a family road trip is definitely the way to go.

2) Safety

Your and your loved ones’ safety and well-being should be your primary concern throughout the entire moving process and the trip to your new home should make no exception. Air travel is considered much safer than other modes of transportations. The likelihood of a plane crash or some other serious problems during a flight is considerably smaller than the possibility of traffic accidents. Besides, you risk various unexpected troubles or nerve-wracking mishaps while driving a long distance – flat tires, car breakdowns, traffic jams, etc. (not to mention falling asleep at the wheel).

3) Comfort

A car trip to your new home will ensure maximum comfort for your children and pets and will give you the unique opportunity to bond as a family and to visit some of the most beautiful or interesting places in the country. A relaxing plane ride, however, will enable you to reach your destination quickly and without any effort on your part, so that you have more time and energy to successfully complete your relocation endeavor. Here are the pros and cons of flying vs driving when moving cross country:


  • Advantages – flying is not only faster, but also a lot less physically and mentally draining. You will be relaxing in your seat for several hours (six hours or so for the longest flights) – listening to music, watching a movie or sleeping, you will be offered food and beverages, and you will arrive in your new city fresh and ready for new adventures;
  • Disadvanatages – flying isn’t always as convenient and hassle-free as it seems to be – you may get stuck taking connecting flights with a large gap in between, there may be extensive delays, you may have to deal with lots of paperwork and observe various regulations (especially if you are travelling with pets), going through airport security may turn out to be quite a harrowing experience, etc. Besides, you won’t be able to take many personal items with you because of the baggage fees and limitations. Have in mind that younger children can grow bored and restless on a long flight, and you will have to find efficient ways to entertain them and to make sure they don’t disrupt other passengers.


  • Advantages – when driving cross-country, you will be able to stop frequently (very convenient if you are travelling with children and/or pets), to visit nearby places of interest and historical sites, to play games in the car, to make your trip an enjoyable and fun event that will help you reduce the moving stress and bond as a family. What’s more, you will be able to pack freely and take with you whatever you want to – all your essentials and valuables, specialized items and comforters for the kids and the pets, delicate items that need special care, non-allowables that the movers won’t load into the moving truck, etc. This will also help reduce the final moving costs, as you will be transporting some if your belongings yourself, decreasing the total weight of your shipment;
  • Disadvantages – your cross-country road trip will inevitably take you along long stretches of highway where there will be nothing interesting or beautiful to see. So, you can expect many hours of monotony and boredom when driving to your new home. You will get tired and bored and your children may get restless and impatient when trapped in the car for days on end. If you attempt a cross-country drive, make sure you bring plenty of entertainment – travel games, card games, books, portable toys, age-appropriate electronic devices, etc.

SEE ALSO: How to make the most out of the road trip when moving

4) Cost

Without a doubt, you will be looking for the most cost-effective option of traveling across the country. Have in mind though that it’s not only the price of the plane tickets and the price of the fuel for your car that you should take into account when calculating the cost of traveling to your new home.

Is it cheaper to fly or drive across country?

Neither driving nor flying cross-country will be easy on your budget.

Flying costs

Flying from one coast to the other is quite expensive, of course. You can check the travel sites for cheap airfare and snag a flight for as little as $250, but in many cases you will have to pay as much as $500 per ticket. Have in mind that the type of ticket (refundable, business-class, etc.), the type of flight (direct or indirect), the specific location, and the dates of travel affect the overall cost of a flight – refundable tickets cost 30% to 50% more than non-refundable ones, flights on national holidays and weekends typically cost more than flights during less busy periods, and so on.

Don’t forget to figure in baggage fees (airlines usually charge $25 for the first checked bag and $35-50 for the second one per passenger), ticket change fees (if your plans change and you need to make a switch, you’ll have to pay $100-200 for a ticket change), extra legroom fees (seats with extra legroom cost more than regular ones) and whatever other fees may be applicable in your case as well. In addition to the tickets and fees, you need to account for the cost of getting from your old home to the airport and from the airport at your final destination to your new home.

Last but not least – if you choose to fly but want to keep your current vehicle and move it to your new state, you will have to pay an auto transport company to ship your car. This will incur considerable extra expenses, of course.

Driving costs

Driving will certainly help you save money when moving across the country, especially if you have a large family. However, it may not be as cheap as it seems at first. You will have to provide for:

  • Fuel – you’ll spend a lot on gas to drive from one end of the country to the other, that’s for certain;
  • Road tolls and parking fees;
  • Hotels – when driving for hours on end, you’re going to need a break and a good night’s rest;
  • Food – you can bring some healthy snacks with you, but when traveling for several days, you will have to dine at restaurants or purchase ready-made meals along the way, adding another expense to the total cost of your move;
  • Vehicle maintenance – you need to have your car serviced prior to your move in order to reduce the risk of breakdowns and other troubles on the road. Beside, putting several thousand extra miles on your car will certainly add to the maintenance costs in future.

All things considered, driving is the more cost effective, more comfortable, and more enjoyable way to travel across the country. Flying, on the other hand, is the quicker and easier way to get to your final destination. So, do you already know which mode of travel better suits your needs and requirements?

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