Should you drive or fly for a family vacation?

Marvin Mack's picture

Should We Fly or Drive? A story about a family deciding to fly or drive to Disney World

Yeah, We are Going To Disney World  

Approximately three years ago my wife finally convinced me to go to Disney World. We worked with a travel agent to set up the trip and help navigate the tricky booking process through Disney. Once the trip was booked, all we had to do was book our flights and a rental car. 

At the time, our kids were one and 4. We figured that it wouldn’t be too bad to fly with both kids, since each parent had to be responsible for one kid. 

Well, before you know it, we found out that there was another baby on the way. Because of this, we had to rethink how we were going to travel to Disney World.  

Should you drive or fly for a family vacation?

Time To Do Some Math 

Somehow, we planned the trip for exactly one month after the baby was born. My immediate thought was to cancel the trip, but my wife advised that if we canceled the trip, we would lose the money. I wasn’t concerned about the money; I was more concerned about her and the baby. So, after much consideration, we decided to push through and make the trip happen. 

It was time to do some math. 

Should you drive or fly for a family vacation?

Instead of using handwritten calculations, did you know that you can use a travel calculator? A travel calculator can help determine all costs associated with traveling. When we looked at flying, we knew that airfare would be between $2500 and $3000. 

We would also need to rent a car, which was around $600 to $1000. The max we would need for flying was $4000. The next thing we looked at was driving our car and splitting the trip up into two days. To drive there it would cost approximately $800 to $1000. 

This was a no-brainer for us to not fly because the cost was too high, and also we knew that for the baby's sake, it was going to be too risky to bring a baby through the airport. According to Dr. Iannelli, it is advised to not fly because “traveling through an airport,….exposes your baby to viral illnesses and other infections."  

The Road Trip 

Should you drive or fly for a family vacation?

Since my wife handled most of the planning for actually being at Disney, I decided to plan out the driving portion of the trip. The trip itself is approximately 14 hours from our house in Mt Vernon, IL. I decided to drive only seven hours in one day, then drive the other 7 hours on day two. In total, we traveled for four days and spent six days in Orlando. Overall, the trip wasn’t bad. Our halfway point was in Atlanta, GA. That may have been the worst part because of the traffic, but other than that it was fine. We were able to find time to see some of my family in Atlanta. 

While driving, we made sure the baby had easy access to my wife. If we needed to pull over to breastfeed, we made sure to do that. The kids were taken care of, as they had snacks to eat and tablets to watch. Despite having a 1-month-old baby traveling, it was quite enjoyable. The baby had stayed in more hotels than most people have in their lives. My older kids also enjoyed the hotels, too.  

Our Advice 

Should you drive or fly for a family vacation?

Where to stay
If you decide to make a trip like this, make sure to book hotels that can accommodate a family, by offering more space. The hotels we stayed in had suites so we could close off one side of the room to allow the baby to sleep.

In-car tips
Take your time and split up a trip if it's over seven hours. Our kids were starting to get restless after being in a car for seven hours. Pack plenty of snacks and drinks in the car. Paying for snacks at a gas station usually costs more than buying in bulk from a grocery store. 

Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and feeding schedule. By doing this, you are avoiding issues with their sleeping schedule and feeding schedules when they come back home. 

Remember it’s a road trip, and it’s a fun time to create memories. Lastly, don’t be like me and my wife, find a hobby that doesn’t involve having a third baby.  


Marvin Mack is married to his wife Judith Mack. He currently lives in the Wentzville, MO area with his wonderful wife and three children. Marvin has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University and is currently an MBA student at Lindenwood University. Marvin is currently an operations manager at United Rentals.