With a holiday like Thanksgiving, there isn’t really an easy, stress-free way to go about traveling. Regardless of where you’re going, and how, millions of other Americans are going to be flooding the same airports, bus stations, train stations, and roadways that you are, and causing significant delays. Thanksgiving travel is basically a non-negotiable contract in which you get to go where you’re going, but in return you have to accept headaches and frustration, not to mention a blow to your bank account that you’d rather not think about. It’s a raw deal, but the things we do for pumpkin pie...
Luckily, there are a few ways you can mitigate travel issues. If you can think outside of the conventional travel box, especially when it comes to flying, Thanksgiving travel doesn’t have to be the scourge of your existence. Here’s how:
BEST DAYS TO FLY
A record number of flyers across the country were expected to take to the skies en route to last year’s holiday festivities (3.6 million), but most of them were set to fly on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving—also known as the busiest travel day of the year.
The best way to avoid these insanely large airport crowds is to book your travel for days outside the normal Thanksgiving travel window. According to Business Insider, that means flying out the Monday before the holiday, and returning the Wednesday after the holiday is your best bet.
USA Today took some data from Priceline (you know, the travel website that Captain Kirk is a spokesperson for) and they too found that traveling on the “off days” (the Tuesday before and Friday after, specifically) is your ticket to stress-reduced Thanksgiving travel.
If you can’t take that much time off of work, or work remotely, your next best option would be to fly on Thanksgiving Day. I know the last thing you want to do on turkey day is trek to the airport and sit on a plane, but it is an option.
BEST TIME TO BOOK TRAVEL
Figuring out what days to travel is only half the battle. Because of the sheer number of travelers on Thanksgiving, buying a ticket home, even on off-peak days, can still cost a pretty penny and that penny only gets prettier the closer you get to the day itself.
Anyone who’s flown before knows that the earlier you can buy your tickets, the better. Prices are usually pretty cheap to most destinations (domestic) if you look weeks and months in advance, and that holds true for Thanksgiving, too. According to Skyscanner, the best time to buy your Thanksgiving tickets is seven weeks before the holiday. I know we’re a little past that (sorry), but it’s still early enough that you should be able to avoid being financially gouged by the airline industry.
A helpfuling, friendly tip for you travelers
Ticketing websites know when you’ve looked at a certain airfare before and they will catalogue it so they can mark the price up next time you search for it. Outwit the airline industry by clearing your browser cookies for that specific website. You’re welcome.
Until next time – Happy Thanksgiving (in five weeks)!