Thanksgiving Away: Eight Savory International Escapes

Thanksgiving is always one of the busiest travel times of the year -- and no surprise, as we race home to gobble up three servings of legendary homemade punkin' pie. Next week, I'll be part of the holiday rush heading to see the family (and enjoy my brother's take on our grandma's classic).

While I prefer to be home, I know not everyone will be stuffing their face with turkey and, well, stuffing. If your Thanksgiving plans aren't around a table, a new Switchfly survey shows you're not alone: lots of Americans will forgo traditional festivities to take short jaunts out of the country.

So, where are they heading?

Mostly places warm and exotic, of course. On average, international travelers will spend between four to six days soaking up the sun and sand abroad before heading home.

Here are the top eight places Americans are escaping to for the holiday. And if you're not heading south for the season, consider spicing up your family's traditional smorgasbord with a few new international flavors suggested below.

Top Eight International Thanksgiving Travel Destinations

As compiled by Switchfly

A Globally Inspired Thanksgiving Menu


  • Pinot Noir: Argentine Pinots tend to be fuller than their American counterparts. The 2014 Schroeder Estate vintage, out of Patagonia, will pair well with a Thanksgiving meal -- and it won't break the bank, retailing around $20 a bottle. 
  • Red Stripe Lager: For your beer-loving guests, Jamaica's national beer is light enough to leave room for turkey seconds (or thirds, or fourths).

Mains & Sides

Source:  Wordpress

Source: Wordpress

  • Jamaican Jerk Chicken: There's a reason jerk stands pop up on virtually every Jamaican beach. Your Thanksgiving guests won't be disappointed with this as an alternative to traditional turkey. 
  • Pão de Queijo: If there's anything Americans love, it's cheese and bread -- so these simple, savory cheesy Brazilian rolls will go over well. 
  • Wasakaka Sauce: To spice up your main course, wasakaka is a popular Dominican topper made from citrus, parsley, garlic, and chili peppers. It pairs best with chicken. 
  • Gandules: Known commonly as pigeon peas, this easy side dish appears at Caribbean holiday meals in places like the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. For a delicious appetizer, whip up this Escabeche Pigeon Pea Crostini recipe. 

Desserts & Pousse-Café

  • Brigadeiros: These chocolate truffles are a celebratory staple in Brazil -- and they're as pretty as they are delicious. 
  • Pumpkin Flan: This recipe by Wendy Polisi puts a Thanksgiving spin on the traditional Mexican dessert.
  • Cafe de Oila: Mexico's signature cinnamon-infused treat is a perfect caffeine fix after a big meal.

Three Places I'd Rather Be Right Now

From blizzards to below-zero temps, the Windy City is in the throes of winter. Right now, I wish I could be...

1. On this secluded Cozumel beach.

It's hard to believe my honeymoon was already almost two years ago. After a fantastic wedding weekend with friends and family in Lake Geneva, Chris and I escaped the Midwest's unseasonably cold spring for an all-inclusive getaway to Riviera Maya, Mexico

The highlight  of our stay was a day trip to Cozumel. After a harrowing ferry trip to the island, we rented a ruby red Jeep and circled the highway, stopping at roadside outposts and secluded beaches along the way -- including the one pictured above.

We even grabbed pineapple margaritas at a makeshift tiki hut, where we climbed the rocky coastline and pointed out whirlpools circling in the waters below.

Unfortunately, not many pictures made it home after Chris left his phone in the Jeep, which we later tracked via Find My iPhone to a Cozumel neighborhood we figured we shouldn't explore. That said, I remember it like yesterday -- and would go back in a second.

2. At this Charleston rooftop lounge.


Anyone who knows me knows Charleston is my favorite American city. Last year Chris and I spent New Year's week in the Lowcountry with my parents, eating in the best restaurants and exploring the historic nearby sites.

In the evenings, Chris and I did our own exploring - where we found this sylish bar atop the Market Pavilion Hotel. With the romantically lit pool and the sights of Charleston in the backdrop, we loved this bar's ambiance -- and its mojitos.

3. In this cozy Parisian jazz bar.

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Granted, Paris is probably not much warmer than Chicago right now. But it's Paris -- enough said. After hearing mixed reviews about this quintessential city, I was pleasantly surprised to find it even dreamier than I expected when we made a whirlwind visit last summer.

From my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower as we Uber'ed to our hotel, I was in love. And that love grew even more when we found Le Caveau des Oubliettes, a cavernous jazz bar just south of Île Saint-Louis

It's drippy, dim, claustrophobic and utterly fabulous -- the kind of place where everyone's your best friend by the end of the night. We even had the pleasure of meeting the evening's musicians, fellow Chicagoans turned expatriates living their dreams in the city of light.