Thanksgiving Travel Got You Down?

Travelers can enjoy the comfort of the Quantas Business lounge in the Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX.

If the memory of your Thanksgiving trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house this year was not as pleasant as the song, you’re probably in need of a vacation—if anything, just to wipe away the thoughts of the hours long, mind-numbing gridlock on the 405 Freeway, not to mention unfathomable lines at LAX. The pain of jostling crowds, flight delays and foul weather always seem worse than one could imagine.  

The long holiday weekend’s hassles may have you dreaming of a relaxing tropical vacation. It turns out this is the prime time to book one and make your getaway. 

Travel insiders say the window between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the perfect time to get the best deals on hotel rates and airfare. If you have flexibility and can make your plans work, you can take advantage of the vacation steals available now, because most others can’t. That’s because most people have rigid work or school schedules and must wait until winter break to hit the slopes or faraway beaches.

According to in-the-know travel experts, there are some deals to be had this week for travel up to Dec. 21. Deals abound during this off-peak season, especially at high end resorts that may entice guests with “buy three nights, get one free” offers. Hoteliers do not want empty rooms so they are cutting rates.

If you’re craving a warm weather or tropical getaway, experts point to Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean as the best places to find a deal.

But there’s more. For those who like to shop why not do it at charming European Christmas markets? Some airlines are offering major discounts with flash sales to Europe at this time. You can enjoy festive holiday markets in Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Poland, and score unique gifts for friends and family just in time for the holidays. And your gift is marveling at the architecture of some of Europe’s oldest cities while purchasing unexpected treats for your loved ones.

Domestic ski vacations can be found at a fraction of what they’d cost peak season. Up to 50-percent-off deals are being offered at a variety of lodges in Keystone, Colo.—said to have good early snow due to its high elevation and snowmaking capability. Check ski websites for deals.

Of course, if you’d like to escape the cold weather you’ll surely encounter in Europe or in the mountains, an interesting travel choice for bargain hunters in early to mid-December is New Zealand. You’ll experience late spring weather in the Southern Hemisphere where summer starts Dec. 21. With sunny skies and a temperate climate, there are lots of water activities to tempt outdoorsy types looking for adventure. Check travel websites for flash sales.

Travel agents are also touting Patagonia in Chile and Argentina as a lower cost vacation alternative. Plus, late spring offers the most beautiful vistas in the mountain region. It’s when you’ll spot the most wildlife. It’s also the home to thriving wineries. Some include luxury spas among the vineyards and restaurants with wine pairings geared to foodies. 

The best part of off-season travel is not only better prices. Just imagine a quiet trip to the airport, a swift pass through security, easy reservations at restaurants and plenty of chaise lounges available poolside—fewer people to crowd your beach towel. With nearly 800 million domestic flights each year, why not sneak in your vacation time in this sleepy window of opportunity?