There’s one thing Americans are rarely thankful for on Thanksgiving: affordable airfare. According to Hopper, a data-driven travel site that monitors about 2 billion price quotes a day, flights over Thanksgiving can be up to 75 percent higher than flights during the rest of the year. That means a domestic flight that would normally be $300 might cost $525, depending on how far you plan ahead.
That’s a nauseating price point for broke millennials living in expensive cities like New York or San Francisco. “Flying across the country is fucking expensive,” a friend who’s a 22-year-old intern from Seattle living in New York told me. With another holiday coming up so soon, she’d rather shell out the $500 to go home for Christmas. But even if you can comfortably afford the Thanksgiving markup, is spending that kind of money for only a few days of family time still worth it? Especially when “Friendsgiving” and “Skypesgiving” seem like perfectly good (and cheap) alternatives?
Consider another alternative: going somewhere that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all. Although international flights aren’t necessarily cheaper over Thanksgiving, with airfare up to 20 percent higher in some cases, as values they’re not nearly as bad as what you’ll pay for domestic flights. Plus, if you monitor travel apps like Hitlist or and Hopper’s GTFO (Get the Flight Out), you can usually find some tempting last-minute holiday deals. Kayak’s new Holiday Tracker Hacker site has an “Escapes” tab that shows the top 10 global cities where Thanksgiving and Christmas airfares have dropped the most since last year. Hong Kong and Taipei, Taiwan, are on the top of that list.
There are myriad reasons to skip Thanksgiving in your hometown, depending on your mileage (and air-carrier miles). Perhaps your family is stressful. Perhaps the dinner-table political arguments are heated and awkward. Perhaps you’d rather skip the domestic terminal at the airport—that hive of crowds, crankiness, and flight delays—and kick back in the international departures area, plotting the final details of your four-day sojourn abroad.
So where should you go? Skipping your turkey dinner for a quick trip to Turkey may no longer seem like a great idea this week, but if you’re curious, when I checked Hipmunk, another flight aggregation tool, round-trip tickets from Boston to Istanbul were running between $600 and $700. If you’re willing to wait until the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Fiji Airways has 40 percent off flights to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand on Nov. 29 and 30.
Here’s an idea of other round-trip overseas flights that you can still spontaneously book in the next few days using Hopper’s GTFO and Hitlist:
- Washington, D.C., to Guadalajara, Mexico, for $417—leaving Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. and returning Monday, Nov. 30.
- New York City to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, for $334—leaving Friday and returning Monday, Nov. 30
- Chicago to Moscow for $555—leaving Thursday and returning Monday, Nov. 30.
- Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand for $603—leaving Thursday and returning Tuesday, Dec. 1.
- Seattle to Seoul, South Korea, for $670—leaving Wednesday and returning Sunday, Nov. 29.
And if you just realized that you do want to go home for Thanksgiving, there’s still a chance you can find a domestic deal before Thursday.