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

Apéritifs 

  • 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 Last-Minute Spring Break Deals

A taste of warm weather and talk of spring break might have you itching to get away this month. If you don't already have plans, there are some great last-minute flights out there. Of course, they'll vary based on where you depart from, but below are three hot tickets I've noticed leaving from the Chicago area.

Houston: Flights as low as $200

Houston always seems to be a pretty reasonable flight. The 10-day forecast ranges from the low-seventies to eighties, so it's a safe bet you'll get to break out your shorts or light sweater here. While everyone else is over at SXSW, take advantage of Houston's spicy restaurant scene, along with tons of parks and outdoor spaces, the museum district and even channel your inner Sandra Bullock over lunch with an astronaut at the Houston Space Center

Source:  Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Hermann Park is Houston's most popular public space and includes the Houston Zoo, an outdoor theater and even a golf course. Source:  Tango Diva

Hermann Park is Houston's most popular public space and includes the Houston Zoo, an outdoor theater and even a golf course. Source: Tango Diva

Houston's Museum District boasts 20 museum, gallery and cultural spaces all within a 1.5 mile radius. Source:  The Square Foot

Houston's Museum District boasts 20 museum, gallery and cultural spaces all within a 1.5 mile radius. Source: The Square Foot

San Juan: Flights as low as $450

Puerto Rico is really high up on my travel bucket list. There are so many hot restaurants and upscale resorts popping up, set in a sleepily stylish tropical backdrop. I think this locale has that perfect balance of an amenity-laden escape colored with an element of adventure. Just to the east is Vieques, an island I've heard raving reviews about for its natural, untouched beauty. Overall, it sounds like a grown-up spring break getaway that will jump-start your rest and rejuvenation. 

Source:  FansShare

Source: FansShare

The Marriot San Jaun is in the heart of the action and is also home to a casino. Source:  World Casino Directory

The Marriot San Jaun is in the heart of the action and is also home to a casino. Source: World Casino Directory

Vieques is known as a quiet retreat, a peaceful island just east of Puerto Rico. Source:  Vieques Paradise Villas

Vieques is known as a quiet retreat, a peaceful island just east of Puerto Rico. Source: Vieques Paradise Villas

Las Vegas: Flights as low as $275

Vegas for an entire week doesn't really sound like my cup of tea. But with last-minute flights available for a steal, it's a great home base as you check out the rest of the region. Rent a car and explore nearby Hoover Dam, or drive just four hours to the Grand Canyon. For five-star relaxation set in the middle of the Vegas Strip, stay at the smoke-free Aria or its luxury Vdara Hotel & Spa. And of course, top off the trip with tickets to Britney: Piece of Me at Planet Hollywood.

The Aria is perfect for Vegas visitors who want to be in the heart of the action, but still want their vacation to feel like a restful getaway. Source:  Aria

The Aria is perfect for Vegas visitors who want to be in the heart of the action, but still want their vacation to feel like a restful getaway. Source: Aria

This stunning view show the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which spans the Colorado River to connect Arizona and Nevada. Source:  HDR Inc.

This stunning view show the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which spans the Colorado River to connect Arizona and Nevada. Source: HDR Inc.

I mean, who doesn't love Britney? I'm dying to see her show while she's still in Vegas. Source:  Caesars Blog

I mean, who doesn't love Britney? I'm dying to see her show while she's still in Vegas. Source: Caesars Blog