Marie Johnston, 48, was traveling with her parents from Glens Falls, N.Y., to Columbus, Ohio, where her daughter, a recent college graduate, was hosting Thanksgiving in her new house. She took three days' vacation and scheduled an overnight stop in Buffalo, N.Y., where her son attends college, to break up the 10-hour trip.
Grabbing a cup of coffee at a rest stop just east of Rochester, N.Y., the family agreed that cost and convenience were the most important factors to them.
"Partially because of the recession, partially because maybe people feel more secure when they're in their own vehicle, and they have more liberty on where they'd like to go and if they change plans," the legal assistant said.
The family figured on about $100 in gas in their Honda sport utility vehicle — using a grocery chain's incentive discounts to save on every gallon — for the 1,250-mile roundtrip, compared with about $800 for airfare.And another:
Eric Flynn, 35, of Salt Lake City, was driving to Junction City, Kan., to spend the holiday with family. Flynn, who was traveling with his wife, 4-year-old daughter and the family dog, was stopped at a gas station in rural Watkins, Colo., to fuel up.
He said he was happy to be on the road instead of in the air.
"It kind of seems like a pain" to fly these days, Flynn said, as he filled up the car's tank at the gas station on the wind-swept plains, the snowcovered mountains towering on the horizon.
"You get in the car, do your own thing," he said. "It might take longer, but it's more relaxing."