Although the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas are notorious for super-expensive flights, there are actually plenty of affordable airfares to be had. The trick? Knowing where prices are dropping.
We tapped three flight search sites—Priceline, Kayak, and Hopper—and scoured their data to surface the destinations seeing the biggest price drops and cheapest round-trip tickets. One big finding: Thanksgiving, especially, can be the ideal time to book an international getaway, as the majority of US travelers stick to domestic trips. During Thanksgiving week 2023, international airfares are averaging $200 cheaper than over the summer, according to data from Priceline. Flights abroad during Christmas are more affordable this year, as well: Priceline found that the average price for round-trip flights during Christmas week have dropped $100 compared to 2022.
Of course, there are plenty of savings to be had on flights to fun domestic destinations, too, with affordable airfares to sunny desert retreats, ski resort havens, and charming beach towns. And while you should get excited about the potential of a (budget-friendly) adventure, keep one thing in mind: Even though airfares to these locales are trending downward, you’ll still want to lock in any holiday flights as soon as possible, as the ideal booking window for Thanksgiving and Christmas is quickly closing.
Here are 11 destinations with affordable airfares for travel over Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to data from Priceline, Kayak, and Hopper.
If you’re looking for a scenic spot to spend Turkey Day in the US, book a ticket to Savannah. Airline tickets are 22 percent cheaper than last year, averaging $483 round-trip, according to Kayak. The historic town is replete with modern charm, too, with a southern food scene that’s worth the airfare alone. Temperatures are still mild in November, with average highs around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Round-trip flights to this capital city on the Danube river are averaging $921 for Thanksgiving week, Priceline says. While that may sound steep, consider that winter is one of the best times to visit Budapest. It decks out in festive finery, and the Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market opens on November 18.
Visiting the Irish capital makes for an affordable Thanksgiving jaunt. In November, the temperatures begin dropping resulting in a cozy autumn chill in the air. The cost of plane tickets is dropping too: the average ticket price is now $464, about a 15 percent drop compared to 2022, according to Hopper. For a quintessential Dublin experience, stay at the historic Shelbourne hotel and raise a pint of Guinness at O’Donoghue’s Bar.
Fort Myers, Florida
Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, the southern Florida town of Fort Myers is a perfect locale for a carefree getaway. White-sand beaches offer activities like swimming, kayaking, and parasailing. Kayak says prices this Thanksgiving are 19 percent cheaper than in 2022, with average fares around $485.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Bargain tickets to Buenos Aires in November are rare, as it is the peak season to visit the capital. But Hopper says tickets this year are averaging just $815 per round-trip ticket (13 percent savings over last year). The city will be in the middle of springtime, with trees and flowers blossoming throughout the city and temperatures in the 70s. Take advantage of the nice weather and plan a side trip to the Mendoza wine region, when walking through the vineyards will be extra pleasant.
The Big Island, Hawaii
November is an ideal time to visit the island of Hawaii, especially this year, with round-trip airfares clocking in at just $419, according to Hopper—a 17 percent drop from last year. With your savings, you can check into a top-notch resort. We recommend Mauna Lani, an Auberge Resort, located on the island’s sunny Kona-Kohala coast and a favorite among Traveler readers.
Ed's note: While travel is open to The Big Island after the devastation of Maui's wildfires, visitors are encouraged to contact their hotels and airlines for more information. And if you do decide to travel, please research how you can contribute to the rebuilding efforts—and act responsibly. Here's a guide to help get you started.
Palm Springs, California
If plenty of fresh air and sunshine are on your Christmas list, book a cheap flight to Palm Springs. Round-trips are $564 on average this year, 14 percent cheaper than 2022, Kayak’s data says. Late December is the very start of the area’s peak season, with beautiful weather for exploring the surrounding desert.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Hopper says the average ticket to Salt Lake is as low as $389 round-trip during Christmas week, a whopping decrease of 27 percent compared to last year. Spend the holiday in a winter wonderland, surrounded by snowy mountains. December is peak ski season, so you have the option of hitting the nearby slopes, enjoying the après ski scene, or cozying up by the fire with a cup of cocoa.
San Diego, California
A flight to San Diego during Christmas week will set you back about $502, the average airfare for the travel period, according to Kayak. It’s 14 percent less expensive than Christmas 2022—and will be well worth the price for the natural wonders you’ll absorb while in the Southern Californian city. Picture a holiday season with bright sunny days and gorgeous beaches hugged by rugged cliffs. For last-minute gifts (or presents for yourself), try the quaint shops in La Jolla Cove.
Exuma, The Bahamas
A dreamy Christmastime getaway to The Bahamas is possible this year without busting your travel budget, thanks to ticket prices averaging $626 for round trips. You’ll save 18 percent over last year’s prices, Hopper says, which means your escape to the secluded beach paradise of Exuma and its vibrant teal waters, will be even more tranquil.
While the outdoorsy culture of The City of Roses thrives during the summer months, it certainly doesn’t wilt in the wintertime, when skiing and snow sports take center stage at nearby Mount Hood. This year, you’ll have more money to invest in a swanky ski experience because airfares are 28 percent cheaper, according to Hopper’s data, and average $370 for a round-trip.