CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -You might be the middle of planning a summer vacation but do you have an expert on your side to help decide drive or fly? Hotel or rental?
Sara Rathner is the travel expert for Nerdwallet, the personal finance website that helps you save money.
Rathner broke down the positives and negatives for your next trip.
The main decision here is based on the size of your family and the distance you’re traveling.
The more kids you have, the more plane tickets you’re going to need and that can get expensive.
The further the distance you try to drive means gas, and maybe even hotel pit stops along the way.
For this debate Rathner leaned towards flying.
“Obviously the further distance you’re traveling the more flying begins to win,” Rathner said. “You’re going to waste precious vacation days on sitting in the car. You’re going to have kids who are not having it, they want to know when you’re going to get there. So the longer distance you’re traveling the more you want to start pricing flights.”
Here are the rest of the things you need to think about, according to Rathner, when it comes to flying versus driving:
- Control over your schedule -- leave early/late without fees
- See more along the route -- more about the journey than the destination
- Easier to pack -- no 3oz. limit on liquids or fees for large bags
- May be cheaper than flying, depending on the length of drive, gas, etc.
- It can take much longer -- lose precious vacation time to getting where you want to go instead of being there
- It can be tiring to handle all the driving instead of leaving the job of transporting you to someone else
- Convenience and speed -- you get there faster, and less time on the road means fewer logistics (where to stay for a night on long drives, packing meals/snacks)
- May be cheaper than driving depending on length of drive, gas, etc.
- Makes it possible to see destinations that are further away
- Airports may not be located near city centers -- you need to factor in time/cost of getting into the city
- Less control over your schedule. Very little flexibility to change plans without fees
- Stress of air travel -- crowds, security, small seats
“Depending on where you’re going, a vacation rental, like Airbnb, might be the most cost effective option," Rathner said. “Especially if you are traveling for, let’s say a week or more, because the daily rate may be lower and you can even sometimes negotiate with the host to get a lower daily rate if you’re staying for a long time.”
“I’ve heard from lots of friends who are parents of young children that it just is a much comfortable, more homelike experience for their family. Especially if you’re traveling with extended family and you have a large group that way you can all stay at the same place.”
Here are the rest of the things you need to think about in the hotel versus rental property debate:
- Location may be in areas with more tourist-friendly activities
- Full-service: concierge, housekeeping, luggage storage, sometimes offer discounts at local restaurants/tourist attractions for guests
- Amenities: gym, pool, spa, sometimes laundry
- Some offer free breakfast
- Small space -- hard for families who may need multiple rooms, or large groups
- Can be more expensive, depending on the location
- Feel like you’re home -- large groups can spread out
- Easier for travelers with young kids who go to bed early (adults can stay up later in other rooms)
- You can cook and store food -- great for budget travel
- More likely to have a washer/dryer
- Can be less expensive depending on location, other factors
- Responsive hosts can help you with issues at the property or suggest activities and restaurants
- May not be in a tourist-friendly location -- possibly in a more residential area
- Not cleaned throughout stay -- just before and after
- If host lives at the property, their stuff will still be there
- Host may be illegally subletting -- risk of eviction, getting caught by neighbors
Now that you know how to decided how to get there and where to stay, Rathner also has seven common mistakes families make on vacation:
- Sticking to the familiar- Use travel as an excuse to try new things (food, experiences)
- Not talking to the locals- They’re a great source of info.
- Not talking to other tourists- They can let you know if an attraction isn’t worth it, give you old maps, etc. Plus you can make friends and travel together.
- Not figuring out the public transit system- In cities with safe, reliable transit, this can save you so much money.
- Not doing enough research- Find out in advance if can buy tickets to museums, transit, etc. before you get there so you don’t have to stand in line. Make a list of your must-dos so you can begin to craft a loose itinerary.
- Not being flexible- Plans will have to change. Weather, crowds, cost, and even bad reviews will make you want/need to change your itinerary.
- Not understanding your limits- You will get tired if you’re not used to walking a few miles a day, or you may have mobility issues and need to factor them in. Young children need rest. Push yourself a little, but not so much that it’s no longer fun.