Back when I worked for the airlines, I learned a secret -- that employees used their Thanksgiving holidays to travel abroad. Why? Because while most flights in the United States were full or even oversold during the week before to the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, international flights were wide open.
It looks like the rest of America has caught up with this thinking, according to a new survey by San Francisco-based travel services provider Switchfly. According to the company’s survey, the number one Thanksgiving travel destination is Brazil, followed by Mexico and the Dominican Republic. It also found that these trips abroad will average between four and six days.
“Apart from the obvious allure of warmer climes, travelers are likely to find excellent deals on international travel around the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Daniel Farrar, CEO of Switchfly in a press release. “While domestic travel volume is very high, fewer people travel internationally, which means airlines rightly incentivize customers to fly abroad.”
Top International Thanksgiving Travel Destinations
Average length of stay
1. Brazil 6.3 days
2. Mexico 5.2 days
3. Dominican Republic 5.5 days
4. Puerto Rico 4.6 days
5. Aruba 5.2 days
6. Bahamas 4.6 days
7. Jamaica 5.4 days
8. Argentina 4.0 days
9. England 6.3 days
10. Cayman Islands 5.6 days
As shown in the chart above, the vast majority of those traveling abroad for Thanksgiving are targeting warm weather destinations. In Brazil, American travelers will find average temperatures about 80 degrees F with nearly 5,000 miles of beach coastline to enjoy. The six best beaches in the country according to About's Brazil Expert, are: Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Praia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Jericoacoara, Paraty and Trindade.
Except for England, number nine on Switchfly’s list, the rest of the top 10 are as warm as Brazil, including:
- Mexico, number two. The About Mexico Travel Expert offers her picks for the top 10 beaches in the country;
- the Dominican Republic, number three. The About Caribbean Expert shares his favorite destinations;
- Puerto Rico, number four. The About Puerto Rico Expert offers a vacation planning guide; and
- the Bahamas, number six. About.com offers a travel guide to the country.
The most surprising destination on the survey? “England. How ironic, as a new country our first major holiday after leaving the motherland was Thanksgiving,” said a spokesman via email.
In a 2014 holiday survey, Switchfly found that the number one destination for holiday travel is the home of a parent, with the beach the second-most popular destination, said he/she said. “For 2015, we wanted to explore deeper into the details of that finding,” he said.
With so many people traveling domestically, less people tend to travel internationally, he said. “And the best way to attract customers is by providing incredible deals,” he/she said. “With a few extra days off during the week, why wouldn’t people take advantage of a quick international escape?”
The numbers for the survey came from aggregate consumer data pulled from the Switchfly travel platform database, he said. Thanksgiving travel bookings were defined as travel beginning between November 20-26, 2015, and ending between November 27-30, 2015.