It's got to be more than a six hour drive for me to even think about flying.
If solo, I would rather drive to LA or San Diego from SFO/Oakland than fly. I might consider Portland or Seattle. I'd rather drive anywhere west of Denver with the family than try to fly it.
I'd say 8 hours is about right.
Until my recent entry into the world of car ownership, this wasn't a concern, but a factor that comes into play is your need for ground transportation once there. If you're in a city with mass transit, or where you're not going to be leaving a resort area or a downtown area, it makes more sense to fly. If you're going to be moving around a fair bit and would have to rent a car, that would make driving make more sense.
A couple years ago I did a cost v. sanity analysis of a trip from Philly to Pittsburgh and back. The winning option was the train. All 12 hours of it. However, it helped that I had a partner in transit in one direction and a ton of work I had been ignoring in the other.
From the Bay Area, if the trip is for fun or has any sort of fun component involved, I'll drive as far as LA or San Diego or probably Portland before I fly. If I have the family with me, I'd probably drive as far as Phoenix, Seattle or Denver before I slogged my kids through the soul crushing awfulness of flying.
Relatedly, hurrah for Utah and Texas.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limits_in_the_United_States
I wonder if there are regional differences here. As a Chicagoan, the distances to other major cities (except Milwaukee) are pretty far. I remember talking about driving to St. Louis (5 hours) with my Baltimore relatives years ago. They couldn't believe it was that far and that I didn't mind the drive.
Easiest answer: Megabus. The time of driving doesn't feel like time if you've got enough stuff you can do on the way to and fro, and you don't have to deal with tolls or the TSA.
I have, for one, spent an entire roundtrip to and from Pittsburgh doing a website project, billing my entire transit time in the process.
For Pgh, it's just a cab between the airport/downtown ($35-40) and back; I can stay in places which are walkable to whatever I need.
I just took a work trip to Boston, and that was an easy call to fly -- it's an easy shuttle flight from PHL, airfares were cheaper than Amtrak, and it was going to be a one-day in-and-out trip. I travel to Harrisburg fairly regularly, and that's an easy call for the train - I pick up Amtrak at Ardmore station, 5 minutes from my house; it's about a 90 minute ride, and I can get work done on the way. For me, that's often a big factor in the decision for a work trip -- do I need to get stuff done en route? Because that's a little hard when you're driving. I haven't done the 'Burgh trip in many years, but while there aren't as many direct flights from PHL as there used to be, my default would be to fly, because the train isn't a great option (after you get past Harrisburg going west, it takes FOREVER), and it's a long-ass drive. For family trips, we'll drive anywhere within 3 hours without hesitation; anything longer than that and we have to at least consider alternatives, because the 10 y.o. has a tendency to get carsick on longer trips. We just did a one-day family trip to NYC, and that was a no-brainer driving decision. Gas, tolls, parking (on a Saturday in Midtown East) and Metrocards for 4 < the cost of 2 adults & 2 kids on Amtrak (or even the SEPTA-NJ Transit combo).
Thing that impressed me on the train back from Harrisburg two weeks ago? That there were about 30 people on the train who boarded in Hbg and Lancaster decked out in Flyers gear, using the train to come in town for a game. Probably $50/60 roundtrip per person, which is a lot less than the price for the same distance to NYC.
I live just outside DC and my sister lives just outside Columbus. It's a 6-7 hour drive, and we pretty much both just always drive it. I'm single, she has a family. But we've always been a driving family (regularly driving from our house in CT to my grandparents in Baltimore).I have occasionally flown it, but the cost and only saving a couple of hours by flying (when you factor in driving to the airport, getting there in advance, the flight, and driving from the airport to my sister's house) doesn't make it worth it.
My college was an 8 hour drive from my home. (Seven with good conditions/speeding). Ever since then, eight hours has been my marker for drive vs. fly. From NYC, I don't think I've ever flown to D.C. or Boston - always drive.
I feel like most Southerners and Westerners will have longer driving tolerance times. Not sure I can pinpoint why I think that.I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaate driving solo, so 4-6 hours is about my limit. HOWEVER, since I already have to drive 1.5 hours to get TO an airport, that skews my math on a lot of trips.
When I was growing up in Florida, it was absolutely no big deal to drive from Tampa to the Miami or Ft Lauderdale areas, or up to Daytona, St. Augustine, etc. I can also remember driving with a friend to summer camp in Northern GA, and with a couple of friends from Tampa to NOLA - much longer trips but fun when you're young and have a buddy or two with you.
I hate, hate, hate dealing with the airport so I'll only fly if I'm under extreme time pressure or if I'm dealing with a drive of more than about eight or ten hours.I'll take the train every chance I get, though.
I like to drive, so I'm pretty open on that. Assuming I don't have a pressing time commitment, I've been known to go up to 10 hours on that. It may also depend on just how painful I anticipate driving to be (e.g., bad construction risk) or how annoying the airport situation is. (I've had big issues getting from PGH to downtown, for example, so that is a factor against flying to Pittsburgh.)
Yep, I used to drive back and forth to Tallacrappy for school, which was about 5 hours. I LOVED it, though. I could sing entire shows at the top of my lungs! Les Mis on the way home, Jesus Christ Superstar on the way back. Now, I've driven to Vegas a couple times myself, though I do prefer flying, if possible. It's more convenient.
I've never minded driving, and the cost of planes both in actual dollars and in my sanity makes me willing to tolerate a lot. But now that we have kids, the calculus is very different - 4 plane tickets gets really expensive, really fast. So we're driving to Maryland over Memorial Day weekend for a bat mitzvah - 11 hours or so each way. Just too darned expensive to fly on a holiday weekend. We always drive anything less than 6 hours, by the way - mostly, for us, that's St. Louis twice a year.
Living in NYC without a car, my first choice is train. I love Amtrak to Boston or DC (my most traveled route). I get a ton of work done on the train. I think the train is more relaxing than flying and with the time you have to arrive at the airport prior to boarding, it doesn't take much longer. That being said, I had to drive to central PA this week and it was easier to rent a car and drive rather than try to time the buses, which are too infrequent. My other regular trips (Portland or Seattle) all require flying.
About 6-7 hours. The biggest advantage in driving is not having to predict ahead of time when you can leave. With a scheduled flight home I always seem either to have idle time because my business finished early or I have to rush because it ran late. With a car, when I'm done I hop in the car and drive.
Depends if I'm renting a car, who's paying, and whether I have CLE I can "listen" to on the drive.
For example, I've done DC-Toronto ten-hour drive one-way because I had a lot of CLE to catch up on and because I was staying a week, so was saving on car-rental costs. Stopped at a Pennsylvania casino to pay for the trip.