Flying vs. Driving: A Comprehensive Travel Comparison

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Explore the pros and cons of flying vs. driving in this comprehensive travel comparison. Find out which mode of transportation suits your needs best.

A plane soaring above a car with the sun shining in the background.
The dilemma of choosing between flying and driving persists for many travelers. Image credit: Tonktiti/Gettyimages

Have you ever found yourself puzzling over whether to pack your bags into the trunk of your car or hustle them through an airport terminal? In the age of endless travel options, the flying vs. driving debate remains a traveler’s conundrum. Whether you’re planning a cross-country adventure or a city-to-city hop, each mode of transport offers its unique perks and quirks. In this article, we’ll unpack these options through insightful comparisons, adding scores to each section to help you make a well-informed decision.

Table of Contents

Cost Comparison

When it comes to traveling, the bottom line often comes down to what’s in your wallet. Is it more affordable to fly or drive? This depends on several variables like distance, the number of travelers, and incidental expenses such as food. Let’s dive into some benchmarks to provide a clearer picture:

Example Calculation: Imagine a 700-mile road trip with three people. The gas would cost approximately $98 (700 miles x $0.14/mile), and tolls might add up to about $70 (700 miles x $0.10/mile).

So, which is cheaper? It depends! There’s no one-size-fits-all answer:

  • For groups (3+ people) on shorter trips (under 600 miles): Driving tends to be more budget-friendly. Road trips offer flexibility and the chance to avoid checked baggage fees, also you can split the cost of gas and tolls. But don’t forget to consider the costs for food (pack picnics!) and potential hotel stays on longer journeys.
  • For solo travelers or on longer distances (over 800 miles): Flying often takes the lead. The cost per person might be comparable to driving, especially when you consider the convenience and time saved on long-distance trips.


Flying 7/10 

Driving 8/10 

Environmental Impact

Comparing the environmental impact of flying vs. driving isn’t always straightforward. While planes typically emit more carbon dioxide (CO2) per trip than a car, it depends on several factors:

  • Number of passengers: Studies by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) show that a fuel-efficient car with 3 passengers can have a lower carbon footprint than a plane trip for the same distance.
  • Distance traveled: Short-haul flights are particularly detrimental because planes use the most fuel during takeoff and landing. Longer trips, where planes reach cruising altitude and become more efficient, can sometimes be comparable to driving in terms of CO2 emissions per passenger.
  • Vehicle type: Modern fuel-efficient cars and especially hybrid or electric vehicles significantly reduce CO2 emissions compared to older, less efficient models.

The use of a carbon footprint calculator can help quantify your environmental impact, encouraging a more eco-friendly choice depending on your travel specifics.

In short:

  • Flying: Generally higher CO2 emissions per person, especially for short distances and solo travelers.
  • Driving: Can be a more eco-friendly option for groups traveling shorter distances, especially in fuel-efficient vehicles. 


Flying 5/10

Driving 8/10


“Is it safer to travel by plane or by car?” is a question that’s been around since the beginning of commercial aviation. Statistically, flying is significantly safer than driving. According to a Harvard University study, the odds of being in a fatal aircraft accident in the United States, Europe, and Australia are about 1 in 11 million. Air travel involves stringent security checks and professionally trained pilots, while driving offers personal control over the vehicle, which can feel safer to some. In comparison, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the fatality rate for car accidents in the US is around 1.35 per 100 million miles traveled. 


Flying 9/10

Driving 7/10

Convenience and Ease

Let’s talk convenience. Boarding a plane usually means getting to the airport hours in advance, trudging through security, and sometimes enduring lengthy layovers. In contrast, driving allows you to set your own schedule, make pit stops, and avoid the dread of missing a flight. While navigating through traffic and finding parking can be bothersome, the ease of starting your journey at your doorstep can’t be beaten, especially when using a premium chauffeur service like Blacklane that eliminates these hassles.


Flying 6/10

Driving 8/10

Speed and Time Efficiency

When time is of the essence, flying generally offers a fast pass to your destination—after all, cruising at 500 miles per hour is hard to beat with a sedan. But here’s the catch: while the flight itself is faster, the time spent getting to and from the airport, coupled with early check-ins and potential delays, can add up. Driving might take longer, but it starts the moment you turn the key in the ignition. For shorter trips, driving can often be on par with flying when you consider the total travel time from door to door.


Flying 8/10

Driving 6/10

Family and Stress Considerations

A family of four happily driving in a car, enjoying a scenic journey together.
Driving offers convenience and comfort without the hassle of airport security or cramped airplane aisles. Image credit: skynesher/Gettyimages

Traveling with family? Driving may edge out flying in terms of convenience. No need to worry about packing liquids into tiny bottles or keeping kids contained in tight airplane aisles. A car journey can be paused for spontaneous picnics, bathroom breaks, or stretching legs at scenic spots. However, driving long distances can be stressful and tiring, especially for the driver. Flying might involve less active duty and more opportunity to relax, read a book, or watch a movie.


Flying 6/10

Driving 8/10

Experience and Fun

There’s something inherently romantic about the idea of hitting the open road, wind in your hair, favorite tunes blasting, and a supply of snacks within arm’s reach. Road trip enthusiasts often highlight the joys of this travel mode, such as the freedom to explore at your own pace, the opportunity for spontaneous adventures, and the pleasure of sharing the experience with loved ones.

A couple joyfully laughing while driving in a car.
Driving brings more fun and flexibility to family travel, turning the journey into an adventure itself. Image credit: mixetto/Gettyimages

On the flip side, frequent flyers point out that flying offers its unique thrills. It can whisk you away to entirely new cultures and countries in just a few hours, providing a sense of adventure that’s hard to match with driving. Moreover, many airports are enhancing passenger experiences with unique amenities, dining, and shopping options to balance out the stress of air travel. These efforts aim to transform the necessary wait times into opportunities for enjoyment and relaxation.


Flying 7/10

Driving 8/10

Flying vs. Driving: Making the Best Choice for Your Trip

Adding up the scores, it’s clear that for short to medium hauls, driving often offers more advantages. For those considering an alternative to short-haul flights, Blacklane’s City-to-City service stands out as a prime choice, offering a seamless and upscale door-to-door travel experience. Blacklane provides long-distance services for effortless travel to various destinations, such as from Chicago to Milwaukee, ensuring you can reach your destination with ease and style. The flexibility of traveling on your own timetable, without being tied to fixed flight times, adds another layer of convenience.

A man and woman seated in the back of a car, smiling while taking a selfie
For a truly stress-free journey, you can rely on Blacklane. Image Credit: Blacklane

Safety, reliability, and comfort are pillars of Blacklane’s service. You’ll be chauffeured by professional drivers in meticulously maintained vehicles. Each ride offers privacy and comfort, enabling you to relax or continue working while on the move. Also, with a transparent pricing model that includes all taxes and tolls, Blacklane provides you with peace of mind, making it an attractive alternative to short-haul flights.

Moreover, Blacklane champions sustainability: all rides are 100% carbon offset, and in select cities, electric vehicles are available, allowing you to boost your environmental stewardship.

Choose Blacklane for your next journey and experience the pinnacle of efficient, eco-friendly, and enjoyable travel.


Ellie Smith

Ellie is an avid traveler, writer, and adventurer, with a passion for exploring the world and sharing her experiences through storytelling. Working for global chauffeur company Blacklane and having lived in cities like Dubai and Berlin, she has gained valuable first-hand experience in uncovering hidden gems worldwide.