The Best and Worst Travel Dates for Thanksgiving 2019

It’s the time of year again when you pull out your coziest sweaters, and the smell of pumpkin spice seems to be everywhere. Yes, the holiday season is upon us, and whether you are driving or jet-setting across the country, here are the best Thanksgiving travel dates to avoid the worst of the holiday rush and price surges. Better you should only have to worry about how you’ll manage to make room for a slice of pie (or two?) after all that turkey stuffing.

If You’re Driving

If you are one of the lucky ones whose family and friends don’t live time zones away, and you’re planning to drive to your holiday destination, historic trends in traffic levels can help you avoid gridlock this year. AAA’s 2018 report on holiday travel has the data on what days and times to avoid hitting the road, based on place. Wednesday before Thanksgiving is notoriously the worst travel day due to school and work holidays, but congestion normally gets increasingly worse from Monday on. Coming home, the report suggests you avoid driving the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If you can, duck out on Friday or Saturday instead, and give yourself a day to relax at home before work on Monday.

If You’re Flying

If your destination is a little further afield, and you’re booking flights to your Thanksgiving party this year, here’s the scoop. Popular flight comparison website Skyscanner reported, based on trends from 2017 and 2018, says the worst day to fly to your Thanksgiving destination is—no surprise!—the Wednesday before the holiday. The Sunday before Thanksgiving is often the quietest travel day of the week.

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As for when to book flights, 13 or 8 weeks prior to your travel date will give you the cheapest options. When it’s time to head home, Hipmunk suggests avoiding the Sunday after the holiday, as that’s when flights are most expensive. Again, ducking out early (Friday) could be a good option for those flying as well. Don’t forget that surge-pricing doesn’t just mean more expensive; it also means more people traveling, which means longer security lines—so make sure to actually arrive at the airport a few hours before your flight so you don’t risk missing a hot Thanksgiving feast.

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