Driving vs. flying: The best way to get away

Emily Merkle

The idea of the warm, boisterous sun beating down and the smell of the cool ocean or the chatter of the overcrowded tourist cities are all things on the minds of students this week. But how do you get from Ames, Iowa, to your vacation destination?

The first thing to decide is whether you should fly or drive to your destination. There are many websites that include a calculator for the total cost, time and carbon dioxide impact comparison of flying and driving. Although these are all useful tools, there are many other factors you should take into account.

According to USA Today, driving is the cause of more than 5 million accidents, while flying has had 20, according to statistics from 2008. The website also notes that flying is the safest mode of transportation with just 0.07 deaths per 1 billion passenger miles.

Another hidden cost is the wear and tear on your vehicle. Racking up miles on your car will lead you closer to your next oil change, tire rotation and other checkups.

The next thing to decide is whether to rent a car. Whether you rent one in Ames to take on your trip to avoid wear and tear on your own vehicle or you rent one after flying to your destination, there are a few things to consider first.

Many car companies have a minimum age requirement to rent a vehicle. Most rental companies require renters to be 21 for an individual rental but offer a share plan where renters only have to be 18 here at Iowa State.

There is also an increase in the prices of car rentals during times of higher demand, such as spring break. The prices are much higher in more popular spring break destinations such as Florida, Texas and California.

“Each office depends on supply and demand,” Duke Puhich, representative at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Ames, said. Generally, prices are higher in some other areas, and [prices] go up a lot during spring break. I would check online for each office’s rate.” 

Another thing to keep in mind is the type of car. It is cheaper to rent an intermediate-size vehicle for long-distance travel, according to Enterprise. There are many options online for different types of vehicles, from 12-passenger vans to economy vehicles.

Spring break is a popular time for car rentals, and availability is decreasing fast.