Monday, May 16, 2011

Driving VS Flying: Part 1

Living only 400 miles away from Disneyland always presents me with a chance to drive or fly.  I could easily save money per person just by driving but it would take 5-6 hours to get there.  Or I could cough up a few hundred dollars to fly and save myself 2 hours travel time.  I will present both transportation methods and costs to help justify each method.

This is by far the cheapest method of getting to Anaheim.  And depending on what time I leave my house, it could take 5 hours, sometimes 7 if I run into LA traffic.  However, I’m only paying for 2.5 gas fill ups roundtrip instead of approximately $200 per person if I fly.  And since I frequent the park every few months, I typically opt for the road trip so I have more money to spend at the park.

Now that I know I’m driving, it’s all about what time to leave, how many hotel and park days, and how much money I have budgeted in my trip.

        The Super-Saver Budget
If I’m going on a 3 day trip, that which leaves me with a 2-night hotel stay.  To maximize my dollar, and I know this sounds crazy, I will leave at 2:00 AM.  Leaving at the hour saves me a hotel night and travel time is optimal at only 5 hours.  At 2:00 in the morning, there is NO TRAFFIC and it’s just a straight drive to Anaheim.  It’s also great because we don’t need to stop for food and my daughter is sleeping all the way.

We arrive at our hotel an hour before the park opens which is perfect because I can get an early check in and settle in before heading out to the park.  I’ve driven at this hours plenty of times and am not tired at the parks.  Mainly before I still get that tingly excited feeling when I get there and because I’ve had a couple Red Bulls.

On our third and final day, we check out of our hotel room in the morning and spend half the day at the park.  Once we get to lunch time, we start our journey back home.  Our return trip usually takes 6.5-7 hours due to traffic on Highway 5 before the Grapevine.  We also don’t need a meal since we have our last meal at Disneyland right before I jump in the car.

The Leisurely Budget
If I have the time and money to do an extended stay of at least 5 days, I can spread out my travel and park days to not feel as rushed as the Super-Saver Budget.  I recently came back from a trip of this budget level and it was great!

I planned our trip for 5 days, Sunday through Thursday to factor in driving time for Sunday.  We left at 9:00 am and it only took us 6.5 hours including a 45 minute lunch stop. 

On Thursday, we left at 4:30 AM to beat LA traffic home and enjoyed at 6 hour non-stop trip.


Super-Saver Budget
No. of people = 3 (Me, hubby, child)
Travel time = 5 hours
Road trip meals = $0
Hotel parking fee = $0
Total Cost = $138 ($55 tank fill up X 2.5 fill ups)

The Leisurely Budget
No. of people = 3 (Me, hubby, child)
Travel time = 6.5-7 hours
Road trip meals = $30 (estimated $10 per person on the trip down, $0 for the return)
Hotel parking fee = $0
Total Cost = $168 ($55 tank fill up X 2.5 fill ups)

Part 2 of this post will be up this week and I will cover the flight costs and advantages/disadvantages.  In Part 3, a roll up summary with side-by-side comparisons will be posted to provide a reference for your planning.


  1. Great plans! I wish we were close enough to drive to Disney World. I mean, I've made the drive down that way several times, and it's doable, but it takes away so much time from the parks...

  2. Yes, the distance just about kills me. If I could afford to, I'd fly but it adds so much more $$ to each trip. If only I could live across the street from Disneyland... :-)

  3. Hi there :) I found your journal while clicking through Disneyland themed blogs. I decided to start reading your blog from the beginning and loved this post. My husband and I are 411 miles away from Disneyland and run through the same types of decision making when figuring our next trip. Ironically, the whirlpool of planning and frenzied ideas usually begins the last morning we have in the hotel. Perhaps it's the way we pacify ourselves while packing up the suitcase and facing the 411 miles back to home #2.

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your blog. Have a great day!

  4. Welcome Mrs. Mears! Thank you so much for stopping by and for all your nice comments! I hope you enjoy the rest of my posts! I'll have more stuff in a few weeks after I visit Cars Land! :-)


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