Vacation Home for the Holidays

November 10, 2020

From roadschooling to WFvH (working from vacation home), Americans are finding creative ways to get away this holiday season. Without the physical confines of work or school, travelers are increasingly turning their winter jaunts into longer-term retreats.

TripIt analyzed its US-origin flight and lodging reservation data and found that travelers are extending the duration of their trips and increasingly looking to vacation rentals to bookend this atypical year.

Let’s talk turkey.

I. Thanksgiving

Busiest Days to Travel

Those looking to avoid crowds should choose to fly either the Monday prior to the holiday or the day-of Thanksgiving, when fewer travelers take to the skies. The busiest departure days? The Saturday prior to or the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday).

Last year, the busiest departure day was the day before Thanksgiving, while the Saturday prior came in fourth in terms of busiest days — a 30 percent increase, signaling that travelers are starting their holiday earlier.

Busiest Thanksgiving Depature Days

How Long Are They Staying?

The shift in departure dates (more travelers starting their Thanksgiving holidays earlier) made us wonder whether travelers would be extending their trips after the holiday, as well.

This year, more than 40 percent of Thanksgiving flyers are staying through the weekend, an 11 percent increase over last year. Those staying through the second week of December? Up 50 percent from 2019, while those staying through Dec 25 is up 156 percent from last year. And 3 percent of all Thanksgiving flyers are staying through right through to 2021 — which is a small proportion but considering that just 1 percent of travelers booked that length of stay in 2019, when more travelers were taking to the sky, that increase becomes more impactful.

Thanksgiving flight duration

Those long stays don’t just end come 2021, either: While roughly the same amount of Christmas flyers are staying through NYE, those extending their stays through the first Monday of the new year is up 48 percent. (More on Christmastime travel below.)

Most Popular Destinations

So where are flyers headed? Travelers are continuing to shy away from big metro areas and are instead heading to destinations that allow them to celebrate in the sun or the snow.

Here’s a look at the top 20 Thanksgiving destinations, along with how each city’s respective rank has changed from last year.

Most popular destination rank change

Lodging Duration

While Thanksgiving is usually the most-traveled holiday, it isn’t a long one. In 2019, 66 percent — or two-thirds— of lodging reservations were made for a duration of 0–3 days. This year, however, just 55 percent of lodging reservations are for that duration, a 17 percent year-over-year drop. Conversely, durations of 4–7 days are up 28 percent, while reservations for a week or longer are up 86 percent.

Thanksgiving Lodging Duration

II. Post-Thanksgiving through Christmas

Lodging Duration

The increase in length of stay during the Thanksgiving holiday made us curious as to whether the same long-trip trend would continue throughout the month of December. We looked at lodging reservations with a check-in date from Nov 27 up to Dec 25 and found that short stays of 3 days or less were down 15 percent from last year, while stays of 4–7 days increased 21 percent year-over-year and stays of more than a week doubled their share year-over-year.

Post-Thanksgiving Lodging Duration

In regard to accommodation types, the biggest shift has been to vacation rentals, which have seen a 27 percent increase in share of lodging reservations when compared to the same travel dates in 2019.

Most Popular Vacation Rental Destinations

So where are travelers setting up their winter vacation homes? Not big cities — last year, New York City claimed the top vacation rental spot, followed by Los Angeles and Honolulu, none of which crack the top 10. This year, the locations that have seen some of the biggest YoY rank increases are winter recreation destinations, such as Park City, UT (+19); Breckenridge, CO (+6); Leavenworth, WA (+21); Mammoth Lakes, CA (+25); Asheville, NC (+36); and Estes Park, CO (+77).

Most Popular Vacation Rental Destinations Most Popular Vacation Rental Destinations Rank Change

Methodology: TripIt analyzed its US-origin RT flight and US hotel reservations made from Jan 1–Oct 8, 2020, with a travel date between Nov 20, 2020, and Dec 25, 2020, and compared that to an equivalent booking and travel window in 2019.

About TripIt:
TripIt from Concur, the world’s highest-rated travel-organizing app, instantly organizes all travel plans in one place. Simply forward confirmation emails to, and TripIt will create a master itinerary for each trip—for free. The premium service, TripIt Pro ($49/year), has all the organizing power of TripIt plus additional features that help members stay one step ahead while traveling. Real-time flight alerts, refund notifications, and the ability to track reward points and miles are just a few of the additional benefits TripIt Pro members receive.