Whether your Thanksgiving travel plans involve domestic destinations or an international getaway, understanding holiday travel trends for 2017 can help you maximize your Thanksgiving travel budget and minimize stress.
Here are the key travel trends for Thanksgiving, including best and worst places to visit, busiest airports and a look at gas prices for those whose Thanksgiving travel plans includes hitting the road.
Thanksgiving 2017 travel trend watch
Top trending destinations for Thanksgiving 2017: According to a report by the Points Guy, Google Flights data determined the following as the trending destinations for Thanksgiving in 2017.
In the U.S.:
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The most wallet-friendly places to visit this Thanksgiving
GOBankingRates used cost of hotels, holiday flights, food, drinks, transportation and entertainment to come up with the most expensive places you could travel for Thanksgiving this year. One of the priciest to visit at Thanksgiving was Cape Town, South Africa. Winter for us is summer in South Africa, and it costs $1,341 to fly from Los Angeles to Cape Town during Thanksgiving, more than any other city on the GOBankingRates list. The average daily cost of meals came in at $48, with the daily drink cost average at $24.
GOBankingRates had much better news at the other end of the spectrum. It listed these three among its most affordable places to visit during Thanksgiving.
- Seattle: Holiday flights to Seattle are cheaper than to most other cities in the rankings and the average nightly hotel rate during Thanksgiving is $142.
- Chicago: You’ll be rewarded for braving chilly temperatures with low average nightly hotel rates of $87 during Thanksgiving. And holiday flights to Chicago are among the cheapest in the rankings.
- San Francisco: The average nightly rate for a hotel during both Thanksgiving and Christmas is $121 and within San Francisco, transportation costs are among the lowest in the rankings and you can see the city’s most popular tourist attractions for free.
KAYAK also ranked "wallet-friendly" Thanksgiving destinations for 2017 using its billions of annual search queries, coming up with these Top 10: Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Calgary and Seattle.
Highest and lowest gas costs
If your Thanksgiving travel plans include driving, you’ll want to know the gas price trends.
As of Nov. 7, 2017, the national gas price range was $2.21 per gallon to $3.22 per gallon, according to AAA.
Gas Buddy lets you see gas prices around the country at a glance with a color-coded map indicating the average price for regular unleaded gasoline.
Generally, you'd pay the least for gas in Texas, Midwest states including Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Virginia and Oklahoma and Southeastern states including the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia (Florida is slightly higher.) As you make your way into Northern, Northwestern and Pacific Northwest states you'll encounter the highest gas prices, with California topping the list to the West.
If you're concerned that gas costs will derail your travel budget, check the AAA website a few days before Thanksgiving to get a prediction on how gas prices will fare during 2017 Thanksgiving peak car travel days.
Top 10 busiest airports Thanksgiving 2017
Whether hustle and bustle is your thing or you're looking for an excuse to stay out of the fray, these 10 airports will be the busiest in the U.S. come Thanksgiving, according to Google Flights:
- Ft. Lauderdale
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York City
- San Francisco
Travel tips Thanksgiving 2017
When to book: KAYAK's annual Holiday Hacker Guide has a hard and fast rule for Thanksgiving fliers: Avoid flying the Sunday after Thanksgiving. KAYAK data pegs that day as one of the most expensive departure dates.
KAYAK also shared the best days to fly for the price-conscious, based on 2016 data. The best 2016 flight deals were for those who could depart and fly back on Thanksgiving day (median price $163 in 2016) or Black Friday ($261), leave the Monday before Thanksgiving and return Thanksgiving day or Black Friday ($286 and $300) or leave the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and return Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday ($296 and $299.)
Book your flight ahead of the price increases. While variances are inevitable, a good rule of thumb is to expect fares to increase 21, 14 and again 7 days before your desired departure date, according to Google Flights.
Plan your road trip costs: To make sure you'll still have money left over for Black Friday, or to avoid arguments with your cheapskate co-travelers, use Gas Buddy's trip cost calculator to plan how much you'll spend getting to Thanksgiving get-togethers.
Consider getting away instead of going home. The Points Guy blogger reported 5 top holiday tips from the Google flights team, and this was both the most radical and most sensible idea. If you won't be drummed out of the family over your choice, consider a brief vacation instead of going to a traditional Thanksgiving gathering.
If you can’t afford a high-cost Thanksgiving travel destination, consider traveling to a less popular destination over Thanksgiving week. The Points Guy says that in some cases, travelers can visit international destinations for less than domestic fares during the holiday season.