advertisement

The early bird usually gets the worm, except in a year when worms are in large supply and it seems that many birds are choosing to stay flightless. In previous years, with Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, flights would have been all booked out, there would likely have been no discounts available, and hotels would have been full weeks ago. This year with the economy so hard hit and people cutting back on spending, it may not come as a complete surprise to know that there are deals out there and the tourism industry is desperate for your travel dollars.

And it's not just deals -- this week I was still able to book round-trip flights between New York and Florida on Jet Blue using points -- I couldn't believe that there were seats on several flights on the day before Thanksgiving (traditionally the busiest flying day of the year) and return seats on the Saturday. So even if you want to keep it very cheap, a Thanksgiving getaway is within your reach this year.

Travelocity (tel. 888/872-8356; www.travelocity.com) is offering a series of discounted holiday season airfares on Northwest Airlines. Sample fares include:

  • Detroit to Chicago $105
  • Indianapolis to New York $177
  • Memphis to Orlando $205
  • Milwaukee to Charlotte $195
  • Washington DC to Detroit $225
  • Minneapolis to San Francisco $295
  • New York to San Antonio $199

The best availability seems to be on the three days before Thanksgiving, on Saturday November 29, and (if you can stretch your holiday break) Tuesday December 2. Sale fares are not available on November 30 and December 1, 2008 but otherwise there are no blackout dates. Sample fares above are based on round-trip bookings for economy travel on Northwest Airlines and tickets must be purchased at least 14 days in advance and no later than November 26, 2008. Most fares require a three-day minimum stay with holiday exceptions and fares are valid for travel November 20, 2008 to January 5, 2009.

Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) still has availability on a select number of Thanksgiving getaways for departures from November 16 to 26, 2008. The four-night London Thanksgiving Escape is priced from $739 plus taxes of $185 from New York. Fly over the Atlantic on an overnight flight and then spend four nights with breakfast daily at the centrally located three-star Queens Park Hotel without paying a Thanksgiving surcharge (unless you need to fly back over the weekend when a $30 fee applies).

The six-night Thanksgiving in Prague trip is priced from $839 plus taxes of $130. This includes round-trip flights from New York, six nights' accommodations at the Juno Hotel, continental breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges and airline fuel surcharges. The six-night Thanksgiving in Rome adventure is a little pricier, with a starting tag of $1,019 plus taxes of $130 per person based on double occupancy. That price includes round-trip airfare from New York, airline fuel surcharges, six nights at the Taormina Hotel in Rome, continental breakfast daily, hotel taxes, and service charges. Add $70 from Boston, $120 from Miami, $150 from Chicago and $200 from Washington DC. All these trips need to be booked by November 10, 2008 to secure these prices. 

Let someone else cook your Thanksgiving dinner or just escape for some R&R to a quiet Bed and Breakfast. Bedandbreakfast.com (www.bedandbreakfast.com) has a large selection of Thanksgiving-specific deals at over 50 properties from Maine to California, plus a few more overseas. Here are four of their current Thanksgiving deals:

  • Enjoy a traditional and bountiful Thanksgiving dinner at Holly Court Inn in Washington, GA. After the turkey sets in, retire to one of their elegant guest rooms and wake up to a champagne breakfast on Friday. Costs including tax for the Thanksgiving package are based on double occupancy and include lodging Thursday evening and dinner for two from $213 (plus $67 for children).  
  • The Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport, ME is offering a "Thanksgiving Innkeepers Fellowship and Supper Package." The two-day package (Wednesday and Thursday, November 26 and 27) includes a welcome gift from the innkeepers, two nights' lodgings, breakfast, afternoon refreshments, and a Thanksgiving evening supper with homemade soups, breads, salads, and dessert. The two-night package starts at $398 per couple.
  • Get a two-night romantic getaway in the Arbor or Violet rooms at the Garden Grove Carriage House in Union Pier, MI for $79 per night, a $50 savings off already seasonal discounts. This deal is valid November 28, 29, 30, 2008 only.
  • There's a two-night intimate getaway designed exclusively for couples at the Cabernet Inn in North Conway, NH. The "Cabernet Inn-timate Thanksgiving Getaway" is offered on November 26 and 27, 2008 from $319 for two and includes two night's accommodations, gourmet breakfast each morning, champagne or sparkling cider, a romantic candlelit Thanksgiving dinner for two served in the dining room with all the trimmings and a bottle of wine, a holiday keepsake, a collection of recipes plus room taxes and gratuities.

Grapevine Canyon Ranch (tel. 800/245-9202; www.gcranch.com) in Pearce, AZ is offering a Thanksgiving special for stays from Wednesday November 26 through Sunday November 30, 2008. Pay $528 per person (based on double occupancy) for a four-night horse-riding adventure and stay in a comfortable casita featuring a king or queen bedroom, a sitting area, private porch, and sun deck. Rates include accommodation, horse riding, three home cooked meals a day (and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings), snacks and beverages, plus use of the pool, hot tub, video room, and pool table. The riding program offers daily trail rides, advanced rides and all day rides. Group lessons and private horseback riding lessons are available for an additional fee. You are welcome to extend your stay at the same special rate. Tax and gratuities are additional.

If you think that Thanksgiving in Hawaii is beyond your reach, you may be relieved to know that affordable flights and accommodations are available. Fly from Los Angeles to Honolulu from $439 including all taxes on Northwest (www.nwa.com) or from $584 including taxes from New York on Continental (www.continental.com) and then pick up a connecting flight on Go! Airlines (www.iflygo.com). Round-trip flights from Honolulu to Kona or Hilo on the Big Island are priced from $132 (taxes included) during the Thanksgiving period, including the peak travel days.

Once there, you can settle in to your vacation condo or house rental through Kohala Coast Vacation Rentals (www.kohalacoastweb.com). They have a number of well-priced options including a Puako apartment located across the road from the beach on the Kohala Coastline. A one-bed, one-bath unit decorated with surfboards and old Hawaiian collectibles is priced from $115 per night with availability during Thanksgiving week. A three-bed, five-bath home with a pool, tennis court, and ocean views is priced from $435 per night. Rent a small cottage at Sunny Side Waimea on the Kohala Coast for $120 per night for a minimum one week rental period.

For the same price (or maybe a touch more) as putting on a family Thanksgiving dinner at home, you can set sail on one of the many Thanksgiving cruises on sale through Cruise.com (tel. 888/554-9598; www.cruise.com). The following Thanksgiving cruises specials are still available:

  • Depart from Miami on Sunday, November 23, 2008 for a five night Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Jewel. Visit the Caymans and Cozumel with prices starting from $204 per person based on double occupancy in an inside twin bed stateroom; a guaranteed outside porthole stateroom on Decks 4, 5 or 6 are from $249 per person.
  • Depart from Jacksonville, FL on Monday, November 24, 2008 for a five-night Bahamas cruise aboard the Carnival Fascination. Prices start from $279 per person based on double occupancy in an inside bunk bed stateroom, or $329 per person in an outside porthole stateroom. The cruise visits Key West and Nassau.
  • Depart from Cape Canaveral on Monday, November 24, 2008 for a four-night Bahamas cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas. You'll visit Little Stirrup Cay/Coco and Nassau and get a guaranteed ocean-view stateroom from $239 per person based on double occupancy. The catch is that you can't pre-assign where your cabin will actually be so it could be anywhere on the ship on Deck 2.
  • Depart from Miami on Sunday, November 23, 2008 for a seven night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph, visiting San Juan (PR), St. Maarten, and St. Thomas. Prices start at $279 per person based on double occupancy in an inside bunk bed stateroom or a guaranteed outside stateroom with a king sized bed on the Riviera deck from $479 per person.

These super-low prices are complemented with some on board credits on various cruises. Port fees are included but some government taxes are additional.