Celebrations of Thanksgiving are predicted to come closer to mirroring pre-Covid 2019. More parades and community events, as well as more families traveling are back. Some differences that families will face are increased food and gasoline prices, continuing health concerns, and flight conundrums. Is it worth the perceived hassle and expense to travel to loved ones this Thanksgiving?
The joy of planning and preparing to travel to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving may be just a little diminished this year from years preceding 2019 and the sleigh that takes you there is pricey. Families may linger over their travel budget pricing travel by car compared to traveling by plane. Is it worth the extra days of travel to drive? What about gasoline prices, loss of wages while traveling, bored kids in the car, extra stops to rest weary parents, and on and on? There is no easy answer when you consider hotel stops, extra food, and snack breaks. Costs accumulate while driving a family across the country. Experts predict that gas prices will hold steady with an average of $3.60 a gallon. Many of the family SUVs cost over $100 a fill-up.
Hotels rates are high with an average of $217 a night. That is 28% higher than in 2019.[i] According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ grocery prices rose 13.1% over the past year, the largest increase in more than 43 years. The price of those favorite snack foods we take in the car and consume during Thanksgiving football games are up 19% with beverages coming in just under at 18.1%.[ii]
Air travel has not succeeded in smoothing its turbulence. Summer travel found higher prices, canceled flights and fewer “non-stop” options. Average domestic round-trip airfare is hitting $373 per ticket, an increase of 24% since 2019. [iii] Fares are rising quickly. For a family of four, that’s a considerable cost.
Many families will also weigh their plans against health issues and the continued concern over COVID. Exposure within large groups, groups of people gathering from different locations to a single location, and the usual cold/flu season are considerations for making plans. While the airport and packed conditions of an airplane may feel like a risk to some, others see restaurants and hotels as potential hazards. Home food delivery is a billion-dollar industry and remains strong post COVID. As high as 56% of restaurant customers have restaurant food delivered so they don’t have to leave home.[iv]
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all that God has provided. It is a time for friends and family to gather and enjoy each other and bless each other. I Timothy 4:4 reminds us “everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” (NIV) In the face of inflation, political strife, and recovery from the last two hard years, it is important to look at the abundance that remains in our lives and thank God for our many blessings. Whether the sleigh carries you to Grandma across the country or to the neighbor next door, Thanksgiving is a time to stop and give thanks.
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