You’ve invested a lot of money in your vehicles, especially the unique and antiques. Now, you need to ship it to a new location—and you want it to arrive quickly, safely, and at a reasonable price. How do you choose between truck, plane, and boat when it comes to shipping your car long distances?

The Need… For Speed

If your biggest concern is getting your vehicle to its new location in the fastest way possible, planes are your best option. Planes can move across larger distances in a matter of hours rather than days. Drivers hauling cars overland by trucks must follow the rules of the road and the guidelines established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration - not to mention the laws of physics. Boat transports are even more specifically scheduled and only move to and from certain ports. Flying often allows the most flexible time schedule.

However, that comes with a price. The average cost of shipping a car by plane domestically is between $2000 - $4000. The average cost of shipping a vehicle over 2500 miles in an open transport is around $1350, and in a closed transport is $1830. Note that these prices vary depending on a lot of factors including type of car, location, shipping needs, and time of year.

Shipping by sea can take 4 to 6 weeks, as opposed to a few hours by plane or days by truck (if that’s even an option).

If time is of the essence, ship your vehicle by plane to get it there fastest!

Location, Location, Location

Of course, sometimes you don’t have the option. If you are moving your vehicle overseas, either internationally or to the farthest-flung States like Alaska or Hawaii, you’ll have to choose between a boat and an airplane.

Shipping by ocean cargo costs about one-third of the price of shipping by air. For example, shipping a car from the East Coast of the United States to Europe will cost between $4000 - $5000. This cost will also vary depending on if you are using door-to-door or port-to-port shipping options, as door-to-door will also include the price of an overland hauler (open or enclosed). The cost of flying a car from the East Coast to Europe will range from $15,000 to $20,000.

Yes, you read that correctly. The cost of flying your vehicle can equal the cost of a decent daily driver. It is important to note, however, that insurers of vehicles worth more than $1 million will often require air freight.

Safety First

Accidents can happen no matter how you choose to ship your vehicle, but there are some choices that can alleviate any concerns you have. First and foremost, you should always do research about your transport company and ask questions about their insurance coverage (which they’re all required to have). It also helps to check your own insurance policy to make sure you have all the coverage you need.

Insurance aside, how do the three methods compare when it comes to the safety of your vehicle? Let’s break it down:

  • By Truck: It’s generally safe to ship your car with a reliable transport company. Paying a little extra for an enclosed carrier and White Glove service will make it even safer for your vehicle, simply because the car is less exposed to the elements and potential theft.
  • By Ship: There are also options when it comes to shipping by boat. The cheapest, called Ro/Ro (roll-on / roll-off) is literally like a giant parking lot on a ship, where the cars are driven on and off. For a higher price, you can also choose an enclosed sea container. This option generally provides extra protection for your vehicle, but as nothing is perfect, sometimes these containers can be dropped. Make sure to choose a reputable shipping company who knows what they’re doing.
  • By Air: This is considered the safest way to ship a vehicle, which is why it’s the standard option for insurers of expensive cars, travelling overseas - and why it’s the most expensive.

Ask The Right Questions

As you can see, there are a lot of variables when it comes to selecting the best option for moving your vehicle. We haven’t even mentioned other issues that come with international/overseas shipping like:

  • how the size of your vehicle might affect your decision (larger vehicles may be required to go Ro/Ro)
  • if you share a container to save costs, it may cause delays in shipping
  • Shipping distance, time of year, etc.
  • Import taxes (for international shipping)


It’s enough to make your head spin. However, we won’t leave you confused. Here’s a handy chart to help you understand the questions to ask when requesting shipping quotes from car transport experts.

shipping method comparison infographic

Let ShipLux Help You Choose Your Vehicle Shipping Journey

If you need to transport your vehicle over the ocean, be aware that shipping by air (although faster and sometimes safer) could cost more than your vehicle is worth. Shipping by sea can often be combined with your overland transport for door-to-door service that makes this the most viable option.

Ultimately the decision as to how to ship your vehicle—or even if you should ship your vehicle—comes down to how much it costs, how soon you need it, and how attached you are. The most cost-effective option (and we mean this both financially and emotionally) is to hire a reputable transport agency like ShipLux, who can provide all of your shipping needs.

While weighing your options, be sure to compare and contrast transport companies. Ask questions. Compare quotes. Feel out the customer service experience to get a preview of what communication would be like while your vehicle is in their hands. Be sure you understand all of your options. Finally, choose a reliable and trustworthy company like ShipLux who provides Premium Service and handling with guaranteed price transparency and 24/7 omni-channel customer service for every vehicle shipped.