Our guide to spending Thanksgiving in the USA

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Every year the United States comes together to celebrate family, life and togetherness. It’s one of the country’s largest holidays, rivalling Christmas is its size. Thanksgiving Day takes place on the last Thursday of November, with the day after also being a national holiday. The event centres on gratitude, and many who are able make the trip home to spend time and eat with their closest loved ones. If you’re travelling in the USA this November, you’ll need to know a few things in order to make the most of “Turkey Day” weekend…

Amazing food is everywhere


Most people’s favourite part of Thanksgiving, and any holiday that focuses on delicious food deserves our attention! Turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, roasted veggies, gravy and of course a slice of traditional pumpkin pie are all normally on the menu. While many hostels will be hosting a dinner of some kind, the awesome hostel staff everywhere will definitely be able to point you in the direction of some delicious turkey.

Fellow travelers can be your family


Whether it’s traveling home to spend time with parents and siblings, or gathering friends and loved ones around you, Thanksgiving is all about family. Luckily, the social nature of hostels provides the perfect setting for people to get together and spend the holiday in the company of other like-minded travellers. There is comfort in the company of others who are also away from home meeting the world.

Where possible, check out the parades


While Thanksgiving is primarily a family event, it’s also the start of Christmas season. This means that throughout the country, mostly in the largest cities there are a whole host of family friendly events to attend. Perhaps the crown jewel of these is the world famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. If you’re near a parade, they’re always worth checking out. Once again, as your friendly hostel staff for recommendations!

American football is king


If food is top of the list of favourite things about Thanksgiving for most people, then American football is only just behind! Many people have their own casual games in local parks, and every year traditionally the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys teams host a game each, and a third match has been added to the schedule in recent years. Many American hostels will show the games, as will pubs and bars across the country. You just can’t have Turkey Day without NFL football!

When it comes to travel: PLAN AHEAD


In Europe the summer and Christmas are often the busiest travel times of the year, but in the United States Thanksgiving definitely takes the cake. Make sure if you plan to be travelling during the last week of November that you account for the numerous extra people flying and using public transport to get to and from home for the holiday. You don’t want to be stuck in an airport delay because of poor planning! Also, it’s important to remember that this is also the most expensive time of year to travel, so plan accordingly, and look for those deals! Affordable hostels make this a little easier 😉

Brace yourself for the sales (and the crowds)

If you have any extra space in your bag, get ready to fill it! The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. All around the country stores put on massive sales to kick off the Christmas shopping season. If you have the time and can beat the crowds, you can find some killer deals. Some stores are even beginning their sale as early as 6pm on Thanksgiving Day itself! The following Monday is traditionally known as Cyber Monday, as this is when online retailers do the same thing. Madness, but money saving!

Thanks to Norio Nakayama, Chris Fleming, Anthony Quintano, Craig Hawkins, and Nick Page for their great Flickr photos!

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