Which is worse: Flying 7,700 miles or driving cross-country with three kids?

Last summer my girlfriend and her family moved to Taipei for her husband’s job. Every summer they get to fly to the United States for a visit. So last week they flew from Taipei to New York. Next week we will be driving across the country from Arizona to New Jersey.

So it got me thinking: Which would be worse flying 7,777 miles with three kids or driving for four days cross-country for 2,500 miles with three kids?

Here are some more specific stats and info to help you decide:

My friends’ kids are ages 9,7 and 5. My friend said their flight lasted 15.5 hours plus 30 minutes circling at JFK and 20 minutes sitting on the tarmac looking at the airport. Her husband got one business class seat, which he gave her to for the flight over because he would have it on the flight home. (He is traveling back alone earlier than the rest of the family.) So the dad sat with the kids for the flight going. The dad said those last 50 minutes were the absolute worst.

Our trip to move will be with kids ages 13, 11 and 7. The mileage is about 2,500 miles and will take 36 to 37 hours if you didn’t stop at all according to Google Maps. But we all know with three kids there will be lots of breaks to stop.

My girlfriend drove a very similar trip to ours last year and argues that the flying is worse than the driving.

Last year, she drove with her dad to New Jersey to stay for part of the summer before moving. She wanted the kid to see the Mt. Rushmore so she headed north through Utah, Colorado and headed to Mt. Rushmore and then across through Minnesota and Chicago to hit her parent’s house in New Jersey.

She said the key is to stop at parks or fast food restaurant playgrounds so the kids can get out energy. She also made sure that each hotel had a pool and they swam every night before bed and even sometimes in the morning before getting on the road. (I will be using the swimming idea!)

She took seven days to cross with stops. We are aiming for four days.

We are actually pretty excited about driving across the country. This will be our fourth time crossing and it will be a new route. Michael hasn’t worked out all our stops yet but he’s aiming for us to see St. Louis Arch, Notre Dame’s campus and Penn State’s campus along the way. My parents offered to fly the kids to Atlanta and then drive them up after we were moved in but the kids really wanted to drive across America with their dad. (I also think there is a sense of closure to it.)

So what do you think: What would be worse flying 7,700 miles with three kids or driving cross-country with three kids?

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