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Budget, non-traditional trips popular with Thanksgiving travellers in US

US consumers worked harder and booked earlier to get low air fares for Thanksgiving travel this year according to travel data firm Adara.

But while striving to hold down air travel costs, they rewarded themselves with a bit of luxury: significantly more Americans this year are turning Thanksgiving weekend into longer, vacation-length trips, and increased numbers are staying in pricier hotels and heading to sunny beach destinations, especially in Mexico and the Caribbean, the firm said.

Adara said its analysis of Thanksgiving travel looked at US travelers shopping and booking patterns for departures Nov. 21-28, returning on Nov 29 or later, utilising the firm´s network of shopping, booking, loyalty and mobile data derived from more than 1bn travel transactions that the company processes each month. Findings include the following:

In 2013, 11% more travelers booked air fares between four and 12 weeks in advance of the year´s busiest travel weekend. Nearly 1 m deal-hunters booked earlier than last year – as early as August and September – heeding advice in the media about rising fares and reductions in airline schedules.

Underscoring their bargain-hungry mentality, consumers searched air fares an average of nine times before booking, an 80 % increase over 2012, when they searched an average of five times.

More than 40% of travelers are taking longer trips of 8-14 days in duration, up from 35% in 2012. While Thanksgiving trips traditionally involve a long weekend, nearly 1m more Americans this year are turning their turkey days into more extended vacations.

Many of those vacationers are headed to tropical resorts. Thanksgiving travel to Mexican/Caribbean destinations is up 35% from 2012, with San Juan, P.R., as the No. 1 destination, followed by Cancun, Mexico City, Cabo San Lucas, Santo Domingo, Puerto Vallarta, Nassau, Aruba, Montego Bay and St. Thomas.

More travelers are treating themselves to upscale accommodations. The number of travelers booking hotel rooms that cost USD 300 per night or more jumped by 20%.

Fewer travelers are flying solo. The number traveling in groups of two or more rose 4% this holiday season, Adara said.

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