Cost Savings: Shipping Your Car and Flying vs. Driving South

White Toyota Fortuner on the Road

Estimated reading time: 14 minutes

Every year, as the weather worsens and the aging population increases, the number of snowbirds heading south increases. Many of these snowbirds move thousands of miles to escape the freezing temperatures, gray skies, and icy roads. 

There’s an undeniable appeal to heading for warmer states such as Florida but such a move does come with a particular logistical headache. If you’re already a snowbird or thinking about becoming one this year, what should you do about your car?

Spending several months in a different state is not going to be much fun if you’ve got no transport. You’ll find it much easier to get around if you’ve got a car at your disposal. Think of all those great beauty spots you’ll be able to visit. You’ll also be able to take part in events and travel to various attractions.

Driving to your winter home in the south seems like the obvious choice, but do you really want to spend days on the road getting there? And let’s not forget you’ve then got to drive all the way back again in the spring. 

Surely there’s got to be a better way. The good news is that there is. Snowbirds car transport is an option that thousands of snowbirds choose every year.

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The cost of shipping your car cross country vs. driving

When it comes to the cost of driving vs. shipping your car, driving is sometimes less expensive than using car transport to and from Florida and other states in the south. However, when you take everything into consideration, the best option is not so cut and dry. 

Some of the costs you need to consider if you’re thinking about driving your car include the following:

Gas

How much money you’ll spend on gas traveling from the north to the south depends on many things, but mainly the type of vehicle you’ll be driving. Spend some time researching fuel efficiency and you’ll soon realize how different they can be.

There are so many makes, models, and engine types that it would be impossible to give you an exact figure for the amount of gas you’ll need for a journey. 

However, for the purpose of giving you an idea, let’s look at the cost of driving an average family sedan that gets twenty-seven miles per gallon, on the highway and in the city.

To calculate how much gas is needed for this type of car, simply divide the distance by the fuel efficiency figure. Then you multiply that number by the current price of gasoline, which was $3.68 for the first week of October 2022. 

Based on these numbers, the estimated costs will be:

Mileage 

Cost for sedan

250 miles

$34.07

750 miles

$85.22

1,250 miles

$170.37

2,000 miles

$272.59

  

You need to bear in mind that gas prices can change overnight and tend to vary depending on the state. 

You should use the figures above for reference only, as several factors can affect the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. These factors include driving habits, vehicle age, season, and terrain.  

Accommodation

When you’re comparing shipping your car vs. driving, the cost of accommodation during your journey will be one of the biggest expenses. 

According to the latest statistics, the average price for a night in a hotel is around $125. You can expect to be able to drive around five hundred miles on a good day. A good rule of thumb is to work on one night’s stay in a hotel room for every five hundred miles of your trip. 

However, when you’re driving long distances there are things that may impact on your day. For example, stops for the restroom, food, coffee breaks, and gas can reduce the number of miles you travel. Even if you manage to get an early start, you might only clock up 300 or 400 miles in a day. 

Worst-case scenario, you may need to factor another couple of nights into your calculations.  

Food 

Driving long distances can get very boring. Add in the fact that you’re going to be hungry and tired of sitting behind the wheel for several hours of the day and the cost of snacks, drinks, and food could add up quickly. 

Around $40 per person per day is a good average number. However, that’s assuming you’re willing to dine at truck stops and roadside diners. If your tastes are more extravagant, the cost could be significantly higher. 

What factors affect the cost of car shipping to and from Florida?

Florida is the retirement capital of the US and it’s also one of the most popular snowbird winter destinations. But that’s not the only place snowbirds flock to. Other top snowbird destinations include:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Texas, The Lone Star state
  • Arizona
  • North Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Utah
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • South Carolina

When you’re comparing the shipping cost vs. driving yourself, it’s helpful to know how much, on average, car shipping to Florida and other southern states might cost.

The following table shows the average cost of car transportation services to Florida and other states. It reflects market conditions as of April 2022. The rates are subject to change due to a variety of reasons that we’ll look at shortly. 

Distance

Type of transport

Average price per mile

Sample distance

Sample price

1000-1500 miles

Open 

$0.70

1000 miles

$700

1000-1500 miles

Enclosed 

$0.98

1000 miles

$980

1500-2000 miles

Open

$0.48

1750 miles

$840

1500-2000 miles

Enclosed

$0.67

1750 miles

$1,176

2000-2500 miles

Open 

$0.45

2400 miles

$1,080

200-2500 miles

Enclosed

$0.63

2400 miles

$1,512

2500-3000 miles

Open 

$0.47

2700 miles

$1,269

2500-3000 miles

Enclosed

$0.65

2700 miles

$1,755

 

If you want to know exactly how much it will cost to ship your car down south, get an instant quote today. 

The figures above are just a guide as there are many factors that can affect the actual price you pay. Knowing what these are will help you compare driving cross country vs. shipping your car. 

The factors that can impact the cost of shipping a car to Florida include the following.

Distance

The distance between the pick-up and delivery locations is the most significant factor. The further the auto transport company must travel, the greater the cost. 

For example, shipping a car from Montana to New Mexico will cost less than shipping a car from Maine to California. 

Whether your chosen locations are rural or in a city also affects the cost. Rural pick-up and delivery locations are more costly for the carrier to reach so you’re going to be charged more.   

Size and weight

Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes. Some big, some small, and many more in between. The dimensions of your vehicle will affect the cost of your car shipping service. 

If the car you want to take with you when you head south for the winter is a small one, you can expect to pay less than for an SUV, van, or truck for example. 

The difference in price is all down to the strict weight restrictions carriers must comply with. If they’re transporting heavier vehicles, they can transport fewer vehicles and the cost for customers is higher. 

Condition

There are occasions when people want to ship a car that’s inoperable. A good example is if you’re the proud owner of a classic muscle car such as a Pontiac GTO or Ford Mustang who needs to get it to a specialist garage for repair. 

It’s probably not the case if you’re moving south for the winter, but it is a possibility that you might want to consider. When your classic car is repaired and up and running again, you’ll be able to cruise the highway and show it off.

Cars that aren’t running require specialist care and equipment for unloading and unloading. This means you could pay extra if you want to ship an inoperable car to Florida.   

Delivery option

Door-to-door is the most common way of shipping a car. SGT Auto Transport offers this type of service for all customers. We arrange for a carrier to collect your vehicle from your home. After being transported, the carrier drives it to your preferred final destination.

Another option that’s not so common is terminal-to-terminal shipping. With this auto transport service, it’s your responsibility to deliver your car to the terminal or storage location. The carrier picks your car up from this location and transports it to another storage location or terminal near to your destination. You go and collect your car when you’re ready. 

Door-to-door transport is a far more convenient option. It’s also far less stressful because you don’t have to worry about dropping off and collecting your car. 

Type of car shipping service

As you can see from the table above, there are two types of auto transport services you can choose from: open car transport and enclosed car shipping. 

Open car transport

Cars shipped in this way are transported on an open trailer. There are no sides to the trailer and there are typically two decks used for transport. This option is more popular with car owners and car dealerships. 

Enclosed car shipping

This auto transport service is the opposite. Cars are shipped in a trailer that is covered and enclosed for complete protection. 

Which is better? Open or enclosed car shipping?

The answer to this depends on the type of car you want to transport. For example, if you’re transporting a luxury car or a new car, you want it protected as much as possible. 

Open car transport leaves your car exposed to the weather. Vehicles are also at risk of being hit by tree branches, road debris, and flying objects. The likelihood of this happening is very minimal, but it is a risk with open car transport. 

Enclosed car shipping, on the other hand, protects your vehicle completely. Covering your vehicle also protects it from the curious eyes of the public.

This type of auto transport service is designed for owners of antique, exotic, high-end, custom, classic, or high-class vehicles. 

You can expect to pay around 30% to 40% more, but what price can you put on complete peace of mind? 

Speed of delivery and dates

There is a standard way of doing things in the auto transport world, but you can speed up the process if you need to. 

For example, the standard timeframe for picking up your car is between one and five business days. Once your car is picked up, the carrier can take up to ten days to transport your car, depending on the final location. 

If you need your car shipped super quick, you have two further options:

Insurance

The cost of insurance is something you need to consider. Oftentimes, it’s included in the price, but you must check to make sure. You should also ask for a copy of the carrier’s cargo insurance and check what’s covered.  

Price of fuel

You have an element of control over the factors we’ve mentioned so far. However, the price of fuel is one you can’t control at all. As we all know too well, fuel costs go up and they go down. Prices can also vary significantly, depending on where you are in the United States.

Fuel costs are one of the largest variables in the car shipping industry. An increase in the price of fuel is typically passed onto the customer. 

Why do snowbirds choose to ship their cars rather than drive?

There are many reasons why snowbirds choose to ship their car rather than drive. This post is all about the cost and that is a crucial factor, but let's take a quick look at some of the other reasons snowbirds choose Florida car shipping services. 

Driving long distances is hazardous

Driving from one end of the country to the other can be dangerous. As the temperatures get colder, the risk of snow and icy roads increases. 

In addition, some routes get terribly busy at certain times of the year. Getting stuck in traffic with all the other snowbirds heading where it's warmer can be tedious and frustrating. When cars are traveling bumper to bumper, the risk of accidents also increases.  

Convenience

How would you like to feel when you arrive at your destination? Would you prefer to feel relaxed and stress-free or tense, harassed, and tired?

If you drive all the way you’re going to feel the latter. Choose to ship your car to Florida and you can fly, take a train, or bus and arrive feeling refreshed and excited instead.   

Time it takes

How long do you think it might take to drive several thousand miles? The recommendation is that you spend no more than nine hours driving, excluding breaks. In addition, you should take a break of 45 minutes every 4.5 hours. This means that you can expect to drive around five hundred miles safely. Theoretically, you could spend up to a week driving which is time that could be better spent soaking up the sunshine in your second home.  

Travel flexibility

If you've got one of the best car shipping companies in Florida taking care of your car, you get to travel however you wish. You might choose to fly, take the bus or train. The choice is all yours. 

Minimal stress

Your journey to the south will be much less stressful if you travel by train, bus, or plane. All you’ve got to do is sit back, relax, chat with family and friends, enjoy the scenery, watch a movie, or read a book. 

Wear and tear

If you’re driving a couple of thousand miles to your Florida second home that’s a lot of extra miles you’re putting on the odometer. Not only that, there’s also the extra wear and tear on the engine and other parts of your car to consider. 

Choose shipping your car vs. driving and your car is going to be protected on a trailer. There are no repair bills to worry about, replacement tires, or unexpected maintenance to pay for. Use car transport to and frm Florida and there’s no wear and tear.  

Cars enjoy the warmer weather

Most vehicles aren’t that keen on wintry weather. Sitting in a cold garage for several months of the year isn’t something they enjoy much either. You can avoid both and treat your car to some warmer weather. It will thank you for it and you’ll benefit from having a familiar car to get around in.  

Getting the most use out of your car

When you head south for the winter, you’re going to stay there for a few months. Leave your car behind and that’s many months you’ll be without it. You will still have to make your monthly insurance payments so don’t let this expense go to waste by leaving your car behind. 

The pros and cons of driving cross country vs. shipping your car

Car shipping pros

  • It’s faster than driving
  • There’s no added wear and tear or mileage on your car
  • You only play the cost of shipping your car rather than fuel, meals, and hotels

Car shipping cons

  • Open car transport exposes your car to severe weather and road debris, while enclosed auto transport is more expensive. 

Driving pros

  • You can pack personal items in your car which could cut your moving costs
  • You’re in total control of the schedule
  • A road trip with new sights could be fun

Driving cons

  • Driving increases the mileage on your car and adds wear and tear
  • You’ve got to budget for additional costs such as lodging, food, tolls, gas, and potential breakdowns
  • Traveling long distances can be very tiring

When it comes to choosing, you’ve got to weigh up what is most important to you. 

How to find the best company to ship your car to Florida

Your car is an important investment, so you want to find the best car shipping company to ship your car. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re selecting an auto transport company.

Proper registration

You can trust a car shipping company that’s registered with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Positive customer reviews

Check out review sites like Transport Reviews and Trustpilot, the Better Business Bureau, and Google. You’ll find lots of honest and detailed customer testimonials and reviews.

Affordable rates

There are plenty of good auto transport companies that offer car shipping services at a competitive price. There are also companies that sweeten the deal with a range of specialized discounts and guaranteed pricing limits. 

Years of experience

A good indicator of a company’s reliability is the number of years they’ve been operating in the industry. Companies that have been around for several years have had time to build their offered services, improve the quality, and grow a good reputation. 

Last thoughts

Deciding whether to drive your car yourself or ship it with a professional auto transport company like SGT Auto Transport is a matter of personal preference. 

If you’re looking for convenience, overall safety, and peace of mind, shipping is the way to go. If you want to know how much it will cost, call (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option. Speak with our shipping advisors, ask for a quote, and then make your booking.

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