Thanksgiving Travel Tips

By Andrea Charriez

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year again – the annual rite of passage that is booking holiday travel. Our data analysts have been getting into the holiday spirit by examining the millions of search queries performed on KAYAK to find you the best times to book and travel for each of your favorite holidays this season. We’re starting with a deep dive into the dos and don’ts of Thanksgiving travel.

When to Book

For domestic travel, we recommend booking 2-4 weeks in advance. Based on our 2013 data, the lowest average fares for domestic travel were found in early November (as low as $415, which is 24% less than the highest average fare, $548).

Not quite ready to commit to quality time with the fam? If you’re looking to travel abroad for Thanksgiving, book ASAP or risk paying a pretty penny. Our data shows late November saw the greatest increase in average fares to Europe, Asia and South America during the Thanksgiving holiday, up 28%, 24% and 31%, respectively.

If you’re thinking unconventionally and heading to the Caribbean to spread thanks, you might get lucky by waiting until the last minute. Booking on November 20th yielded the lowest average airfare to the Caribbean, boasting a 16% savings for travelers, while mid-October saw a 14% increase in average airfare, so make sure you time booking just right.

When to Travel

Travel on Thanksgiving. Travelers departing and returning on Thanksgiving Day found fares as low as 30% below the average. You can also save by departing the Monday prior and returning on Thanksgiving.

Prefer not to travel in a turkey-induced coma? Last year, travelers who stayed through the weekend and returned on Tuesday saved about 20%, compared to the average. In general, avoid weekend departure/return dates, as those yielded the highest fares. Fun fact: Search share for the Tuesday following Thanksgiving also saw a 31% decrease. That means higher chances of snagging an empty airplane while also avoiding an empty wallet.

For international travelers, same rule applies: Travelers departing on Thanksgiving Day found fares that were more than 15% below average holiday fares. In general, it’s best to leave as close to the holiday as possible and return the following week for up to 19% savings.

Keep checking back to the KAYAK blog for more tips and tricks to ensure jolly travels this holiday season.

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