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Old 11-18-2009, 02:06 PM   #1
LekiaHall
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The Dreaded Question: To Drive or To Fly

Hi All,

With me being a new WDW fanatic, I'm not sure why I don't post more...I must remedy that

Anyhoo....on to my concern. My family lives in the Metro DC area. This past April, on my first trip to WDW w/ my family, we drove down for the 13 hour car ride. We left DC at 10PM, so going down wasn't so bad...the kids slept. Coming back was a PAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We are a family of six (incl a 1 y/o)
I did some quick pricing...Right now, airfare is roughly $175, pp. We'd then have to rent a car when we got there. I'm being conservative putting this cost at $300/week. Total to fly: $1175 (approx)

If we drive, we absolutely MUST rent a cheap hotel/motel room half-way down....I'm guessing driving a rental car would cost: $700 (approx)

Lastly, we could drive our own car, though I hesitate to put that many miles on it. BUT, we'd eliminate the rental fee entirely, making the cost: $400 (approx)

Based on this, what would you all do? Would you pay more for the piece of mind of flying? (Plus, my kids have never been on a plane, so that would be cool)?

What are your experiences with airfare, driving by car, etc?

Thanks!
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Old 11-18-2009, 02:56 PM   #2
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Well, I can't comment on flying since I'm married to a plane-phobe. We did take our 7 & 8 yr old kids to Disney this past June driving from Canada. It was their first major car trip, other than a twice yearly three hour drive up north. It is a 24 hour drive in total so we broke it into four days, arriving before noon on our fourth day. We drove in about two hour stretches - stopping every couple of hours for bathroom or food breaks.

I had packed a Rubbermaid bin with new activity toys for the kids as well as some new DS games, videos and a snack box.

Overall it went very well. I was amazed that they lasted as well as they did. Having something new to look forward to after lunch and each morning made it exciting for them and we actually had very few "how much longer?" questions.

Coming home was a little more challenging. We drove it in three days so crammed an extra hour into each day. I had saved a few new videos for the drive home which saved the day, but in the future I'd make sure I had enough activities for the drive home as well.

We have several neighbors who have driven with their kids ages ranging from 2 to 10 years. One family did what we did and broke it into three days and another started the drive at 9 at night and took turns going all through the night. The kids slept until breakfast when they stopped the next morning which let them get almost half of the trip over with while the kids were asleep. They stopped at a hotel before dusk, swam and had an early night then got up adn arrived early afternoon the next day. DH and I couldn't manage that since we both get sleepy driving in the dark, but they swore by it.

Hope that helps some. Good luck deciding which way to go.
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:41 PM   #3
Cedarmom
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We're coming from approx. the same area (NoVa) and we opted to fly. Several reasons:

1. We drive down to GA once a year, and that is *quite* enough time in the car for me in any given year.

2. Vacation time. We lose two days of vacation time driving up and back. It costs us more to drive when you factor in 'lost' work time for dh. We're also pulling oldest ds out of school so we had that to consider as well.

3. The baby. We have a baby as well. It really is just kind of torture for her to be in the car seat for that long both going and coming. She does well, but I'd much rather fly and only have her in the seat for 2 hours as opposed to 14 (each way).

It cost our family of 5 $850 to fly (getting everyone, including the baby, a seat). For me, it was a no-brainer.
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:44 PM   #4
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we live in atlanta, and it's only a 7 hour drive, but we're flying this time. i hate wasting time in a car.
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:49 PM   #5
MyTwoPrincesses
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We live in DC and flew Southwest out of BWI. It was actually really inexpensive about $59 per person each way. However, there is no way we'd ever drive to Florida from DC. I hate road trips, would be exhausting for us, and it means less time actually on vacation. It seems like we'd be exhausted by the time we got home.
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:54 PM   #6
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We haven't done the WDW drive yet (first trip is next summer), but we have done several other long drives. For us, driving is much more relaxing than flying. We take our time, spread the drive out over several days, and just make it part of the adventure. My DH doesn't fly well to begin with. Then we like to have our own stuff - carseats, strollers, pack 'n play, etc. Managing what we can through the airport is hassle enough, but then when you factor in the costs of all the stuff, it just isn't worth it to us. We are much more comfortable in the car. We drive during the day and stop at hotels each night. My kids don't sleep long periods in the car so driving overnight would not create a happy time for us.
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Old 11-18-2009, 04:27 PM   #7
tinker-belle
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Another option would be the auto train which is pretty close to you (Lorton, VA), we've taken it 4 times so far (& we drive there from NJ). If you travel coach, it is cheaper than flying and you have the car with you!
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October 2000- preggie trip
January 2004- First trip for other DS
January 2006---- SURPRISE TRIP, pop century
January 2007---- another surprise trip pulled off, all star music
January 2008--- Hmm, can we pull of another surprise trip? Pop Century!
January 2010---- Yay, going to CBR for DS #3- 1st trip!!!
January 2011!!! Back to Pop!
January 2012 All star sports
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Old 11-18-2009, 04:56 PM   #8
happymommy
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I live in Maryland, just north of DC, and have driven once, and flown all our other times.

The reason we drove was that, it was right after 9/11, and we weren't going to fly if we could. Plus, our kids were 2 and 4, and we had just bought a new minivan with a DVD player.

Down was fine. We left about 1pm, after the kids got out of school (they were in preschool, so they got out at 11:30) and picking my husband up from work. The kids fell asleep by 8pm, which was normal for them. We has intended on stopping soon, but since they were asleep we kept on driving. All... The.... Way.... 12 hours later, we were there!

I had low blood sugar (I get that), so the whole next day I was sick. From then on, it was so super fun for 11 nights.

The drive back sucked so bad, my husband swore he'd never ever do that again!

I get fares all the time from BWI on Southwest, very cheap.

In short, I live near you. I would FLY. FLY. Did I say that? FLY.

I priced out autotrain once. It is notoriously late, and it would have cost us so much more than flying. And it takes longer than our drive did.

You don't mention where you plan on staying. If it's onsite, you don't need a rental car. If it's offsite, yeah, you will. And with your family, I guess you will need minimum fullsize, but obviously with strollers and such a van. Or you can save by taking a shuttle van to where you'll stay, then renting something smaller for the duration?
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Previous WDW vacations include:
CR as a child with parents 1992 offsite twice 1993 Honeymoon GF 1995 BC 1996 SOG 2000 GF 2001 BWV 2003 (spring break) CR 2003 (summer) AKL 2003 (Christmas break including NYE) AKL concierge 2005 summer BWV 2006 April Swan 2006 August Dolphin 2007 March AKL 2007 August Dolphin 2008 March 7 Night Western on the Magic
2008 August (The Dark Side) PBH 2008 Dec BWI 2009 March Swan 2010 March Offsite (Grande Vista) 2010 December BWV plus 2 nights Marriott's Harbour Lake and 3 bonus nights snowed in at the Aiport Renaissance 2011 March Offsite (Marriott's Harbour Lake) 2012 August Offsite (Marriott's Grande Vista and Sabal Palms) March 2014 BWV
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Old 11-18-2009, 04:59 PM   #9
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Oh, sorry, I need to add:

If you have more vacation time, then I'd drive.

My issue is that my husband has little time, so he only joins us for a few day while we go. I'd never do the drive myself.

If you have two weeks or so, then I'd drive. Do it in two days. But, I'd bring my own car. And we brought our huge double stroller, plastic bins with pantry food (we stayed at a DVC condo), laundry stuff, etc...

If you only have one week, then that cuts down the time.

And, I wouldn't want to do the Autotrain in coach with 6 people. Just like I won't fly to Hawaii coach anymore (we used to live there, and 12 hours in a coach seat I can't take).
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Previous WDW vacations include:
CR as a child with parents 1992 offsite twice 1993 Honeymoon GF 1995 BC 1996 SOG 2000 GF 2001 BWV 2003 (spring break) CR 2003 (summer) AKL 2003 (Christmas break including NYE) AKL concierge 2005 summer BWV 2006 April Swan 2006 August Dolphin 2007 March AKL 2007 August Dolphin 2008 March 7 Night Western on the Magic
2008 August (The Dark Side) PBH 2008 Dec BWI 2009 March Swan 2010 March Offsite (Grande Vista) 2010 December BWV plus 2 nights Marriott's Harbour Lake and 3 bonus nights snowed in at the Aiport Renaissance 2011 March Offsite (Marriott's Harbour Lake) 2012 August Offsite (Marriott's Grande Vista and Sabal Palms) March 2014 BWV
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:15 PM   #10
tinker-belle
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Auto train coach is not like air plane coach. We flew to Europe this summer, and I was soooo spoiled by auto train coach and felt so claustrophobic on the plane.
On the auto train there is soooo much leg room. Your seat reclines most of the way back, and your feet come all the way in front, and there is still room between the chairs in front of you.
We always took the train in January, this time we are taking it, it is 5 of us (my baby is free) and it costs 800.00 round trip. (we have a car, not a mini van, mini vans are slightly more to bring on the train), and the earlier out you book the cheaper it is. Kids ages 2-17 are half price of adults, and if you go in the summer kids are often free- last summer they were 19.00.
We met a family onboard the auto train last time on the way back. She said she drove down, and told her kids if she had to drive back she was never going to leave, so she booked the auto train back.

It's a bit hard for me to sleep well b/c I'm a horrible sleeper, my kids slept fine. I never had a problem with delays. The only annoyance is when you get there you have to wait for your car to be pulled off the train and once we had to wait 45 minutes which was annoying when we just wanted to drive through the disney gates already!
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January '86- my first trip
July '95- DISNEYMOON!!!!
August '98- First trip for DS
August '99- First trip to disneyland
October 2000- preggie trip
January 2004- First trip for other DS
January 2006---- SURPRISE TRIP, pop century
January 2007---- another surprise trip pulled off, all star music
January 2008--- Hmm, can we pull of another surprise trip? Pop Century!
January 2010---- Yay, going to CBR for DS #3- 1st trip!!!
January 2011!!! Back to Pop!
January 2012 All star sports
JANUARY 2013 Pop Century
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Old 11-18-2009, 09:35 PM   #11
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We love the auto train. We get the family sized bedroom that sleeps four. It's roomy enough for the short overnight trip.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:02 AM   #12
happymommy
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Wow - thanks for the info on autotrain!

I had thought it would be like a bus. I couldn't deal with that.

Plus, once I priced out a family cabin and it was way more than flying. We usually get about $150 round trip from BWI here, and I don't rent a car usually in Orlando. But that is cool to know - especially if we want our own car. For a long trip, I may actually look into it! We're planning to go to my folks' vacation house in Naples with my sister's family next summer, so we may do that and drive from Orlando (of couse with a stop at Disney!).

Definitely worth a look. Or one way - that is a good idea. The drive home can be a pain, once the fun of the vacation wears off. Unless you have something to look forward to on the drive home, like South of the Border? Just kidding I've never stopped, but we thought the signs for over 200 miles were a hoot.
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Previous WDW vacations include:
CR as a child with parents 1992 offsite twice 1993 Honeymoon GF 1995 BC 1996 SOG 2000 GF 2001 BWV 2003 (spring break) CR 2003 (summer) AKL 2003 (Christmas break including NYE) AKL concierge 2005 summer BWV 2006 April Swan 2006 August Dolphin 2007 March AKL 2007 August Dolphin 2008 March 7 Night Western on the Magic
2008 August (The Dark Side) PBH 2008 Dec BWI 2009 March Swan 2010 March Offsite (Grande Vista) 2010 December BWV plus 2 nights Marriott's Harbour Lake and 3 bonus nights snowed in at the Aiport Renaissance 2011 March Offsite (Marriott's Harbour Lake) 2012 August Offsite (Marriott's Grande Vista and Sabal Palms) March 2014 BWV
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:41 AM   #13
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We drove this past October and are pricing flights for next year b/c I really don't want to drive again!

There are five of us, the drive was 17 hours total (with no stopping, so it took longer than 17) and we stopped overnight.

I really thought I would enjoy it, but I didn't. Not only was it just too long, we spent as much as if we would have flied! Not only did it mean 4 travel days more to our trip which my dh had to miss work, but it was 4 more days of EATING (I have 2 teenage boys), gas, hotel overnight there and back. I added up what we spent and we could have just flied and saved the time and energy!
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Old 11-19-2009, 06:44 AM   #14
Cedarmom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinker-belle View Post
Another option would be the auto train which is pretty close to you (Lorton, VA), we've taken it 4 times so far (& we drive there from NJ). If you travel coach, it is cheaper than flying and you have the car with you!
I didn't know this existed! How cool.
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Old 11-19-2009, 06:47 AM   #15
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We also fly. DH hates to drive on vacation, to him that is extra work. Vacation should be about relaxing. So we start to relax the moment we go to the airport.
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