Visiting relatives for Thanksgiving instead of Christmas comes with a welcome side “dish:” $200 average airfare savings, according to travel booking site Hipmunk. Their analysis of flights to 30 major airports servicing 50 hometowns for the 2014 holidays found that turkey travelers paid an average of $463 in roundtrip airfare versus $649 for Christmas airline tickets.
That $200 per person savings translates to a bountiful boost for your budget when paying for more than one ticket. Last year a family of four kept $800 of cash in their bank accounts by choosing to see the folks back home over Thanksgiving instead of Christmas.
Sometimes the difference between traveling for turkey or Christmas dinner is negligible. Landing in the San Francisco Bay area last year for Thanksgiving cost an average of $554 roundtrip with Christmas flights coming in at $567. Detroit homecomings averaged $462 for Thanksgiving versus $469 for Christmas.
But if your relatives live in Milwaukee, it might be cheaper to invite them to visit you over the holidays. Flights to Milwaukee averaged $794 for Thanksgiving and $1,027 for Christmas, making Milwaukee the costliest city to fly home to for either of the November and December holidays. Minneapolis was the least expensive city to visit over Thanksgiving, averaging $364.
Christmas travel sometimes comes with a stocking of savings. If home is Norfolk, VA, then a Christmas visit versus a Thanksgiving trip saved you $404 last year, the most savings of any city studied. A Norfolk Christmas trip came in at $345 instead of $749 for the Thanksgiving average. Cincinnati, with fares averaging $205, ranked as the least expensive destination to await Santa.
Here are more 2014 Thanksgiving and Christmas airfare savings:
• Tampa: $669 for Thanksgiving flights but only $361 for Christmas, a savings of $308 for Christmas travel.
• Miami-Ft. Lauderdale: $640 for Thanksgiving flights but only $420 for Christmas, a savings of $220 for Christmas travel.
• Louisville: $554 for Thanksgiving flights but only $328 for Christmas, a savings of $226 for Christmas travel.
• St. Louis: $620 for Christmas flights but only $513 for Thanksgiving, a savings of $107 for Thanksgiving travel.
• Indianapolis: $629 for Christmas flights but only $484 for Thanksgiving, a savings of $145 for Thanksgiving travel.
The below infographic, from Hipmunk, shows which holiday is cheaper in each of the cities surveyed.