By Noah Henry • November 19, 2013
Call your mother and tell her you’ll be home for Thanksgiving.
According to TripAdvisor, four in ten Americans have plans to travel for Thanksgiving. Turkey Day this year falls on the first day of Hanukkah, making it especially congested, although it’s already the busiest travel day of the year.
Roads will be no different. According INRIX, a traffic congestion firm based in Washington, traffic will be 3 percent higher than last year due to lower prices on gas. So, you can look forward to clogged highways and byways in the days leading up.
What are you to do? Well, luckily, numerous sites are offering last-minute travel deals on airfare and hotels. There are also rules to keep in mind when traveling during this highly popular travel time.
Saving on Airfare
This year, the average cost for a round-trip Thanksgiving ticket is $378. If you purchase tickets cheaper than $378, consider your booking a success. It’s important to note that the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, is going to be the priciest time to travel. Experts recommend Tuesday for the lowest fares. For flights back, Sunday and Monday returns are always touted to be extreme budget-breakers. Your best bet, if you’re willing to kiss your mother goodbye a bit earlier, is to return on Thanksgiving night.
Let’s talk about deals. CheapOAir.com is currently knocking off 15% from flights. Globester and Fare Buzz are both taking $10 off airfare bookings. oneTravel is providing up to 15% off Turkey Day getaways and Travelocity takes the cake, offering up to 40% off on Thanksgiving getaways. Now that you’ve been notified, consider yourself confident to book. But first, you should make your way to Airfare Watchdog, KAYAK or Bing Travel to compare last-minute travel deals and remain flexible. Flexibility is important for holiday travel.
Saving on Hotels
I know—you’re probably going to stay with relatives. But if they’re booked to the brim with family members and there’s no room for you, don’t make it a big deal. There are sites offering great low rates on hotel stays. For one, Hotels.com is providing 15% off when you travel with a pet, so bring along Fluffy. Easy Click Travel and Last Minute Travel are both taking off $30 from bookings of $300 or more, and, in addition, CheapOstay is offering up to $15 off Thanksgiving hotels.
Misc. Travel Tips
1. Set up alerts for better seat openings through ExpertFlyer.com. Check the airline’s website five days in advance to see if elite fliers upgraded to first class, and from there, see if you can pounce on better seats.
2. Check for delays. Popular airports like Miami, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Miami are typically rough. One in five flights is delayed, so bring a book.
3. You might want to consider flying on Thanksgiving Day itself. The airports previously mentioned sent off planes 90 percent of the time on time last year. Thanksgiving morning will also have smaller crowds, making for easy navigation and quick check-in. Also, the rates will be lower.
4. Consider surrounding airports. A deeply discounted flight might be as simple as booking to a less popular, nearby airport. For example, Burbank Airport usually offers less expensive fares than LAX, and ditto for Oakland Airport in comparison to SFO.
5. Check in online. It might get crowded. Bypass the lines and go straight to being frisked by downloading and printing your boarding pass from home. You could also download it to your smartphone and check in online.
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!