Last-Minute Thanksgiving Vacation Ideas

With Thanksgiving around the corner, you've either secured your flight home for turkey time with the family or you're still procrastinating – perhaps debating other ways to spend the extra day or two off work.

Last month (an airfare search engine) analyzed more than 3 million user searches to discover which travel destinations people are looking to visit over the holiday. According to the results, it seems most people would rather fly to Cabo than Cleveland. Vacation destinations such as Hawaii and Mexico topped the list of the most frequently searched itineraries.

Luckily, Thanksgiving is the best time to find cheap flights to vacation and international destinations. When most Americans are cramming themselves on to fully booked domestic flights, you could be headed to Hawaii on a nearly empty plane…cocktail in hand. My husband and I have taken advantage of this time a year on many occasions. Two years ago we scored half price flights to Costa Rica and last year we flew to London on Thanksgiving day and practically had the entire plane to ourselves.

So if you're still undecided on your plans, here are some destination ideas and deals for inspiration:

  • Hawaii: You can find flights from the west coast to Honolulu for around $375 roundtrip (down from $500-$600 earlier in November). And usually when there are cheap flights, you can also snag good hotel deals. For example, the 4-star Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort is offering a rate of $209 per night (regularly $325) between Nov. 24-30, check Travelzoo for more details. Be aware that November is the beginning of the rainy season, but to those I've spoken to that visit Hawaii often the term means nothing. Some days there might be a light shower (or no rain at all) - very rarely will it rain for days on end.
  • Cancun: By late November, hurricane season in Cancun has come to an end, temps are in the mid-80's and the beaches are quiet. Swap pumpkin pie for piña coladas and head down to Mexico with fares as low as $195 roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale (regularly $275-$400). Bring some friends along – you can find two-bedroom condos on for less than $100 per night.
  • Orlando: Take the kids to see Mickey Mouse instead of Grandma (she'll understand). All of the theme parks and resorts are open on Thanksgiving day. While not as crowded as other holidays, the parks are still busy with tons of Thanksgiving festivities. There are currently great flight deals from the northeast. For example, fly from Philly for as low as $180 roundtrip.
  • Puerto Rico: For about $250 roundtrip you can either fly to St. Louis or San Juan, Puerto Rico from New York City. Decisions, decisions. No passport is required for either destination and Thanksgiving celebrations are huge in Puerto Rico. Promise your folks you'll visit for Christmas and take this opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving in the Caribbean. After a long day spent feasting on Puerto Rican Thanksgiving dishes, find a hammock on the beach and be thankful you made the decision to take a vacation.

For more Thanksgiving flight deals from across the U.S., check out's Thanksgiving deals page.

Allison Hollins is a project manager at and an expert at finding amazing travel deals and discounts. Among her favorite deal finds was a $250 roundtrip flight from New York to Barcelona (including tax!) on that she bought last year. Allison lives in the New York City area.

Photo credits: Anis Salvesen