Ship It Or Drive It?

Hot-rods and flat roads – American culture has, for most of the 20th century, included a heavy helping of the mystique of a cross-country drive. The experience has been sung in ballads and shown in films as an escape, a rite of passage or a trip of self-discovery.

But what if rites of passage aren’t your main concern, and you just need to get your car from point A to B, and the points happen to be separated by 2,000 miles of highway? Should you combine the promise of pleasure and fun with the reality of spine-deforming pain and frustration, and embark on a cross-country drive? Or should you farm the job off to an auto shipper and kick back in an airplane seat, which, while narrow and uncomfortable, is only that way for a few hours.

Many people may think that they stand to save a lot of money by driving the distance themselves. Their spirit is to be commended, but the savings may be much smaller than you think. First, gas prices being what they are, a car that gets 30 miles per gallon will still burn through $300-400 worth of fuel. Then, you have to factor in the expense of getting yourself across that whole distance – 15-20 dollars a day for roadside food is a reasonable allotment, which leaves you with a budget of at least $100 for a five-day drive.

Unless you have the rare constitution to sleep in the car, you should budget 300-400 dollars on motels, depending on your tolerance for dirt and bugs. All of this doesn’t include wear and tear on your car during the long drive; between 700 and 900 dollars up front is the typical cost of a cross-country excursion.

How much would shipping run, then? Quotes vary widely, so it’s hard to give a firm estimate, but they range from a rock-bottom low of $600 to over $1000 for the deluxe treatment. The savings of driving yourself are not very likely to make up for the tzoros that you will experience on the long and open road. Just pay an auto shipping company and save yourself the trouble.

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