Do you have any phobias? Over 12% of Americans do suffer from crippling or debilitating fear, experts say. Among the most common phobias is aviophobia, or the fear of flying.

Some aviophobes will do just about anything to avoid setting foot on an airplane, including driving long distances whenever they want or need to travel. Deciding whether to drive or fly is pretty easy when one of those options causes you to break out in a cold sweat and hyperventilate!

The rest of us do need to make that decision when vacation time rolls around. Not sure which method of transportation is the best for you and your family? Read on to learn all the pros and cons of each choice!

First Things First: Where Do You Want To Go?

The choice of whether to drive or fly to your destination depends largely on where you live, and where you’re headed. If you reside in the middle of Kansas and you really want to spend your vacation basking in the sun, snorkeling, drinking tropical cocktails, and eating freshly caught seafood, an airplane is probably your best bet.

At the other end of the travel spectrum is the good old-fashioned American road trip. In this instance, it really is all about the journey rather than the destination. Driving allows you a lot of freedom to alter your itinerary on the fly, stopping as the spirit moves you or taking a detour based on a local’s recommendation. 

That said, it’s not a great idea to plan a cross-country drive if you only have a week off from work. Your destination will need to be a little closer to home so that you can get there, making the desired stops along the way, and then get back without the drive turning into a long-distance haul.

Things really get tricky if you want to visit a city or attraction that’s more than a few hours’ drive from your starting point. 

Consider the Cost

For many Americans, money is the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a vacation destination. While driving might feel like a no-brainer if you’re watching your wallet, it’s actually not that clear cut.

A savvy traveler can find incredible deals on flights by scouring deal websites, booking well in advance, using credit-card miles or points, and knowing a few other air travel hacks.

And driving can be more expensive than you think. When budgeting for your getaway, you have to factor in not just gas money, but also any tolls you will have to pay and the wear-and-tear on your vehicle.

If your car isn’t reliable or you just don’t want to put the miles on it, you might want to rent a vehicle. That’s pricey as well. If you lease your car, be sure to check your lease agreement before setting off on a road trip, too. Some come with strict limits on how many miles you can drive during the leasing period.

Who Is Going With You?

Another consideration when figuring out how to travel? Who is taking the trip? If you have young children or if any of the travelers have mobility issues, flying might be more stress than it’s worth.

In addition, think about how you will get from the airport to your accommodations. Will you need to take a subway, bus, taxi, or Lyft? Is there a lot of walking? What about renting a vehicle? In many cases, driving will deliver everyone right to the hotel or Airbnb.

On the other hand, a long road trip can cause some folks to feel claustrophobic — or to just get on one another’s nerves. This is especially true if you’re in tight quarters like a small car. It might make sense to postpone travel plans until you can upgrade to a larger vehicle. (In the market for a new-to-you car? Browse here to find some great deals.)

What Is Going With You?

Driving to a destination usually means that you won’t have to pack as lightly as if you were flying. While you can always pay to check an extra bag or bulky sports equipment such as a bicycle or skis, it still isn’t easy to travel by air when you have to tote a lot of gear.

When you opt to drive, it’s no problem to bring along a few spare outfits, a stack of books to read on the beach, your ukelele for impromptu jam sessions, and a cooler full of sodas, beer, or snacks. (Bringing your own food will also offset the cost of buying meals at rest areas, which are usually unhealthy in addition to taking a toll on your wallet.)

Driving also makes more sense if you’re planning on doing any serious shopping while you’re on vacay.

The Stress Factor

Even when you have an exciting time planned, it can be stressful to travel. That’s true of both driving and flying, although the stressors are very different, of course.

Some people worry too much about the possibility of being involved in an accident or having their car break down to enjoy a leisurely drive. On the flip side, a traveler who is accustomed to making his own schedule or being in control can find it difficult to deal with delayed flights, unpredictable local transportation, and other air travel hassles. 

Final Thoughts About Whether To Drive or Fly

All other factors being equal, the decision whether to drive or fly might simply come down to which mode of transportation you prefer. Some people love the thrill of taking off into the wild blue yonder. They will happily put up with overpriced airport coffee, the hassle of connecting flights, and long queues for a taxi upon arrival. 

Others prefer the freedom of the open road to the frenetic pace of airline travel. They find joy in having the flexibility to veer off course, check out attractions that are off the beaten path, or to stay an extra day at a, particularly interesting locale.

Which type of traveling do you prefer? Do you find flying exciting, or does it trigger your worst fears? Do you have any great road-trip stories — or cautionary tales — to share? Let us know in the comment section!