Just days away from Thanksgiving for Canadians, travel is certainly in the cards for many looking to take advantage of the long weekend, including international travel.
“This year, we're seeing more than half of travel will be international for Thanksgiving from Canada, that's a big shift from where we were a couple of years ago,” Laura Lindsay, Skyscanner’s trend and destination expert, told Yahoo Canada.
“New Delhi is the top destination for Canadians over Thanksgiving. Obviously, it's a time that people [tend to] choose to reconnect with friends and family, or take that extra piece of time off to go a bit further… There are domestic destinations in the top five, so Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver also appear. But then New York, London and [Los Angeles] immediately after that, so you're really seeing the return of long haul [travel]."
As Lindsay highlights, these Thanksgiving travel trends for Canadians are representative of a broader pattern of travel “normalizing,” including for trips farther away from home. Asian destinations, like Seoul, are also starting to appear as popular destinations for Canadians travellers.
How to score travel deals, including during busy holidays
While some of the marketing around great travel deals for hotels and airfare has significantly reduced, particularly after a summer of chaos at airports, that doesn't mean all travel deals are done, you just need to be more strategic and flexible with your bookings.
“I'd say that there are still deals to be had, I think the difference with the holiday season is that people tend to be less flexible about where they can go, because they're choosing to visit friends or family and will have a particular location in mind,” Laura Lindsay said. “We'd always say the more flexible you can be, the better deal you're likely to get.”
If you're not able to be flexible by location, consider being flexible by the date of departure. So if you can, for example,...travel on the morning of Thanksgiving and arrive in your destination for the afternoon, if you're able to not travel on those more popular days, you will undoubtedly get a cheaper price.Laura Lindsay, trend and destination expert with Skyscanner
On sites like Skyscanner, for example, when searching for a flight, travellers are able to not only compare the best deals by airlines and dates, but can also include nearby airports to your departing and arrival city, which Lindsay highlighted as being a particularly useful way to take advantage of the lowest fares possible.
“It's also worth considering different departure airports or airlines,” Lindsay highlighted. “If you're somebody who tends to be quite loyal to one airline for points, actually, that's not necessarily the best thing to do, it can be worth considering flying in and out with different airlines, for example, where you will potentially unlock better deals.”
In terms of what the prices have been like, Lindsay stressed that there has been "an awful lot of fluctuation," but it's very dependant on the route and the time of travel.
“Whilst [airfare prices] have increased with Canadian travellers, they're stabilizing and plateauing," she said. "It's really about booking as early as you can or setting up a price alert to ensure that you're getting the best deal and shopping around in terms of dates and an airline ticket flying.”
Just last week, the Canadian government dropped a number of remaining pandemic-related travel rules, including removing the masking mandate on planes and trains, and providing proof of vaccination for travel plane, train and cruise travel.
Despite the travel industry having rules in place, to varying degrees, for over two years, desire for travel was certainly still present.
“Throughout the pandemic we've seen such an enduring love for travel,” Lindsay said. “In Europe, for example, there would be corridors that would open up and the increase in demand would go through the roof, 600 per cent in some cases, at that immediate point, because people were so eager to get away.”
What to do in Canada for Thanksgiving
If you're looking to stay more local this Thanksgiving, either in or near your home city, or travelling within Canada, there are still many holiday-related activities to take advantage of.
Take advantage of the Thanksgiving weekend offer at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, with a number of activities for the whole family on the property between Oct. 7 and Oct. 9. This includes a canoe tour across Lac Beauvert, pumpkin carving, an outdoor movie where you can curl up by a fire and roast marshmallows or s’mores, a scavenger hunt and full Thanksgiving dinner and Sunday brunch. There are also a number of hiking and biking experiences in the area, from short trips to overnight excusions.
Niagara Falls, Ont.
People flock to the Niagara region of Ontario specifically to take in the beauty of the fall season, and a must-do activity is taking a stroll, or bike ride, on the Niagara River Recreation Trail. Another great way to take in the seasonal beauty is from the Skylon Tower observation deck, 233 metres above the Falls, and there is also a revolving dinging room.
Autumn in Whistler is the perfect time for sightseeing tours and fall activities, including ATV tours where you can ride up Blackcomb Mountain, Superfly Ziplines where you soar through the air to take in Cougar Mountain and the Whistler Valley, and a unique Live Escape Room.
Quebec City, Que.
Talking a walk through Old Québec (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in the fall is a quintessentially Canadian experience, including the Dufferin Terrace for a great view of the St. Lawrence River and Château Frontenac. This time of year is a particularly great time to visit if you're not a fan of the colder weather that Quebec City experiences each winter. You can also watch the migration of snow geese at Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area (until the end of October).