Flying over Thanksgiving is just not worth it. It’s far cheaper to declare your own holiday

Is it worth it?
Is it worth it?
Image: AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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What better way to break the national tension than air travel?

A record 27.3 million people will fly from US airports around the Thanksgiving holiday, up 2.5% from 2015, estimates trade group Airlines for America. In return for the honor of navigating a packed airport, traveling with 200 strangers who share your space but maybe not your politics, and hours of food and football with your extended family, what you get is some of the most expensive travel of the year.

There isn’t much relief around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, either. Hopper estimates that end-year holiday flights fetch 75% more than flights outside of the holiday period. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider our rush to travel at the same times of the year as everybody else.

Thanksgiving may not be a religious holiday, but it’s a sacred tradition for many Americans. In a year in which the rulebook for pretty much everything has been tossed out, why not create some new traditions? The alternative that we suggest: Skip the holiday and get the family together—or not—the week after. Make your own holiday.

How much can you save? A few examples:

  • The price of a domestic roundtrip ticket for several major cities tumbles 50% the week after Thanksgiving, according to Hopper.
  • If literally beaching yourself instead of doing so on the couch during the ninth football game of the day is more of your thing, average best fares to Cancun are nearly 45% cheaper the week after the holiday.
  • Thinking of a cooler tourist favorite? Average fares to Reykjavik ease after a 40% Thanksgiving spike, Hopper notes.

There’s a sweet spot right in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s when fares are generally $200 less than during the holiday period, says Expedia.

And if you travel in that sweet spot, you can use your savings toward government approved carry-ons such as apple pie. Or a frozen turkey.