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Fly or Drive to Florida??

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Going next Feb/Mar for 2 weeks from s.w. Ontario to Sarasota. If driving we would probably take the 2 nights on the road going and coming back. With cost of 4 hotel nights, food, gas, wear and tear on car, losing 4 days vacation,etc. is it worth looking at flying from Detroit or Buffalo and renting a car there? What have your experiences been? Is driving a lot cheaper?

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    Sounds like torture to me - all that driving. I just checked on Expedia and entered random Feb. dates - cheapest RT was $282. Southwest flies Buffalo to Tampa - too far out to book, but in October you can fly that route for $120 RT. (both US dollars)

    Additional expense of renting car in Florida should not be much - car rentals are generally fairly inexpensive there.

    And if you are spending 2 nights on the road, then it is 3 days driving each way (far more reasonable than thinking you can make it in 2 days) - so you lose 6 days of vacation out of 14.

    But when you figure out cost - you can't really add cost of 4 nights hotel, if you would be staying in a hotel while in Florida - just same number of nights in a different location - although hotels en route would likely be cheaper than in Florida in the winter. Same applies to food.

    We know families that make drive to Florida for even shorter period of time (Boston-FL), but usually that involves a pack of kids, 2 drivers-no stops, and free lodging with Grandma - so cost of flying entire family is prohibitive.

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    I've flown from Toronto to Florida several times, and driven several timers.

    By myself, flying is cheaper, since I only need one ticket.

    Think of flying as taking pretty much one whole day, by the time you get to the airport and wait and get a cr rented at the other end.

    "How" you dirve makes a big difference, and different people have different approaches. I drove from Toronto with two old guys, leaving Toronto about 8, Milton (pickedup second passenger)about 9:30, and then we stopped for breakfast around 10 at a McDonald's on the highway. Lunch at Denny's on the south side of Toledo, first night at a Day';s Inn in Madison, north of Cincinnatti, which we'd reach about 6-7 pm.

    That was all the driving they wanted to do. But other families I know start earlier and stop later.

    SEcpond noight we're somewhere south of Atlanta or in north Florida, and it's the third day we get to our hotel in St. Petersburg.

    Compared to Canadian highway driving, it's much easier in the USA to get decent highway food, (at least between Detroit and Florida) than in Canada, there's lots more inexpensive but decent motels to choose from, and teh scenery is, generally, better than Windsor-Toronto, once you get out of Ohio.

    Florida has bargain car rentals, so you'd pay perhaps two-thirds what it would cost to rent a car in Toronto, even after converting to US dollars.

    Big advantage of driving is that you might visit interesting places on the way, but reality is that most people don't. They just drive.

    And do you like sitting in the car and driving? I met a man in Toronto yesterday who is driving from here to Boston and back this week, because he's happy behind the wheel. I have other friends who won't fly less than 500 miles because driving is so enjoyable.

    Other people hate driving.

    Remember that the cost of food on the way is balanced by the fact you'd need to buy food there in Florida anyway; same with hotels, except highway hotels may be cheaper than your Florida resort.

    So the real math is 1/ gas vs airplane tickets, and for two people, gas is probably cheaper than two tickets. Remember to add in airport parking in Detroit.

    And is your car leased? 2/ is additional lease charges if you go over your permitted mileage over the length of the lease.

    Wear and tear really isn't much of the car's fairly new. A couple of thousand miles at 60-70 on smooth highways doesn't hurt much. Check your oil a few times.

    I've done another faimily round trip (not the old guys) Toronto-Naples-Toronto by car leaving Toronto on a Friday morning --travelling and in Florida on SSMTWTF and heading north on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, arriving in the evening, giving us four full days in Naples plus other enjoyable days on the road, and we all enjoyed the trip.


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    Thank you very much for taking the time to replay in such a detailed way. It really helps. Actually we have a condo booked from Sat. to Sat. so that's already paid for. The days on the road would be "extra" because if flying, we'd fly in on Saturday and leave on Saturday. By driving, we'd leave on Thursday to arrive by Saturday.
    We had pretty much planned to drive but in thinking about it, I'm going to cost out the flights and rental cars. Thanks again.

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    Since the driving days would be additional days to pay for, it is difficult to see how it could be cheaper for even 2 people to drive.

    4 hotel nights at even an inexpensive $75/night is $300. Add food - I'll even go real low with this and assume you eat fast food (like McD) for breakfast and lunch - $10 breakfast plus $12 lunch plus even a real cheap $30 for dinner times 5 days is about $250 (I figured 2 1/2 days each way)

    So food and hotel adds up to $550 - to that add tolls, gas and then factor in cost of rental car in Florida - it still must be cheaper to fly if you start shopping around for air fares.

    Don't know what weeks you are going, but if you are flying from US - many US schools have third Monday in February as a holiday ("President's Day") - a very popular time for families to fly to Florida - so if vacation includes that week, make reservations early to get a seat and save money.

    Cheapest flights are likely to be Southwest to Tampa - a reasonable drive to Sarasota.

    And the drive is really boring!

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    I would look into flying Canjet for your winter travel. They fly out and return on Saturdays. Flight times are decent. Cheapest flights they had this winter were I believe 99 each way plus taxes etc of course. But it sure beats driving. The other issue is snow storms, the first leg of the trip can be nasty if you happen to hit a storm on the way down. I would personally get on a direct flight from Toronto and get off in Sarasota, all within a few hours, still plenty of time to get settled into your condo and head out for dinner! The direct flight to Sarasota is wonderful.

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    If both people can drive,,,,, you can make the trip non stop or one stop at the most! I have done the trip myself in 20hrs non stop from Burlington Ontario to Vero Beach. With 2 drivers it would be a piece of cake. 2000km fuel cost depends on your vehicle. Option 2 fly out of Buffalo if you live in Ontario. Best flight prices I have had have been $63 one way U.S via Air Tran from Buffalo to Tampa and cheap rental cars from there. tax is minimal versus Canadian departure tax on a $100 ticket, which turns out to be $200 after tax each way

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