Should You Fly or Hire a Car in South Africa?

Are you planning a holiday as travel restrictions finally ease up? Chances are you’re counting every penny and contemplating boundless logistical issues as you plan this long-awaited escape.

Nowadays, travel costs take centre stage when it comes to planning a getaway, which probably has you pondering the pros and cons of driving to your destination vs flying.

There are so many things to think about when deciding on your travel choices. Keep reading for a detailed look at them all.

Is Your Vehicle Up to The Task

A breakdown in a strange place can cost you dearly when it comes to time, stress, and repair costs. So, it’s always best to get your vehicle checked out and serviced before you depart. This is a costly endeavour, too.

If your car isn’t due for a major service anytime soon, but you still don’t trust it to go the distance, car hire in South Africa is an excellent option for you. That way, you know you’re getting a car that’s in excellent condition.

Essentially, breakdowns aren’t your problem when you hire a car. The car hire company will simply provide you with a replacement vehicle and you can enjoy your holiday without missing a beat.

Time and Money

If you’re travelling a long distance, costs can really mount up, especially when you include toll fees and overnight stays in the picture, not to mention wear and tear on your car. While you can mitigate some of these costs by taking the back roads or choosing cheaper overnight lodging, flight ticket prices are a fixed entity.

Flying to one of the country’s smaller airports might get you closer to your destination quicker, but airline tickets to these out of the way places are often costlier. It’s much easier to find cheap flights to major destinations like Cape Town, Durban, or Johannesburg.

When it comes to cost considerations, these are your options:

  • Flying to the airport closest to your destination is quicker and more expensive
  • Driving directly from home is tedious and time-consuming

That means, flying to a major airport and hiring a car for the rest of the trip occupies the middle ground, but it’s not that simple, either.

There are more things to consider.

Costs Per Person

When you book flight tickets, you pay per person, while hiring a car or driving your own vehicle involves a once-off charge for any number of passengers.

So, it makes sense to calculate the cost of car hire in South Africa and estimated fuel usage versus the cost of flight tickets per person while planning your trip.

If you drive a gas-guzzling SUV, you could consider hiring a newer rental car that’s lighter on fuel for your travels.

It’s preferable to shop around for the best car rental prices in South Africa using a price comparison engine to see which option works out most cost-effective for you.

When comparing costs, don’t forget all the extras that go along with driving and flying. In the case of air travel, these include:

  • Airfare per passenger
  • Airport shuttles
  • Checked baggage
  • Travel insurance
  • In-flight meals if relevant
  • Specific seat selection
  • Transport on arrival

Extra car rental costs include:

  • Car hire fees
  • Any add-on services
  • Fuel
  • Meals along the way

In many cases, your credit card has got you covered when it comes to car rental insurance. Find out more about other cost-related car rental issues here.


Maximising Your Travels

South Africa boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and is home to many charming roadside villages, too. Why would you want to miss out on all that by soaring miles above it?

When you hire a vehicle and drive to your destination, you can immerse yourself in these glorious scenes and stop off for a closer look at whatever you fancy. You’re also not bound to strict airport departure and arrival times, giving you the freedom to explore at will.

Driving gives you access to an array of delectable eats, fresh fruit, and preserves along the way. What about ‘padkos’? Airline food simply can’t compare to this staple fare of South African road trips.

Meandering along the road less travelled opens up a world of experiences you’ll miss out on when you fly and is a treat for photographic enthusiasts, too.


Getting Around on Arrival

Unless you’re planning an all-inclusive stay at a remote destination, like a private game reserve where everything’s provided, you’ll need wheels on arrival at your holiday spot.

With the exception of Cape Town, few cities have the public transport infrastructure to take you where you want to go, when you want to go. So, flying to your destination and taking a shuttle to your hotel simply isn’t an option if you want to make the most of your visit.

With a rental car at your disposal, you can enjoy what you went on holiday for – the joys of exploring a new place, experiencing famous tourist spots, and freedom from schedules and pre-booked arrangements.


Family Time

In today’s busy times, families barely have time to share a meal, especially when there are children of school-going age involved.

Driving together gives you time to catch up and share all the wonderful experiences mentioned above.


Driving Can Be More Environmentally Friendly

Calculating the environmental costs of driving vs flying is a complicated issue involving several factors, which are also closely tied to those that determine fuel cost i.e., the less you spend on fuel, the fewer carbon emissions you create.

These determining factors include:

  • Distance travelled
  • Driving distance to the airport
  • Number of travellers
  • Fuel efficiency of the vehicle

In most cases, driving solo has a much more negative impact on the environment than flying does since it’s the carbon emissions created per person that impacts the cost to the environment.

There’s no such thing as a fuel-efficient or hybrid aeroplane (yet!), so travelling together in a hybrid or electric car beats flying to your destination hands down.

This is particularly relevant when one considers that aeroplanes also emit sulphur oxides, hydrocarbon, nitrogen oxides, and soot particles in addition to greenhouse gases.


So, Is it Best to Fly or use Car Hire in South Africa?

The real answer to this question is, ‘it depends’ but based on the above, it would seem like car rental gets the edge when making the most of South African travels.

So, get started working on that all important budget issue right away by comparing prices here