Traveling on Thanksgiving? Why You Should Be Thankful

Most Americans are well aware that Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year. If you’re one of the 94.5 million Americans traveling over 50 miles for that turkey gravy, chances are that once you finally make it home you’ll be griping about the heavy traffic, flight delays, or other travel-related headaches.

But how many of us stop to think, on the day we are supposed to be most grateful for our blessings, how lucky we are to have these modes of transportation at our disposal? I’m guessing you’ve probably never heard this around the dinner table: “I’m grateful for this delicious meal with my family, our good health, and the railroad tracks that brought me home in time.”

So to help you get in the spirit of gratitude for the many travel luxuries we often take for granted, here is a throwback to what travel used to be like in the U.S. (Makes that baby crying next to you the entire flight, not seem so bad, doesn’t it?!)

Traveling in America in 1621

The very first Thanksgiving feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians took place in the autumn of 1621. If you needed to get around back then, you had three travel options: watercraft, horseback, or walking. Traveling was considered dangerous, so colonists only traveled when necessary. Freshwater transport via canoe was the most important form of travel. It was cheaper, faster, and safer than traveling overland.

When traveling by horse, the fastest pace you could hope for was six miles per hour in the best conditions. If you needed to get from Boston to New Haven, that would take 24 hours on horseback. (And you would need to carry a pistol or sword for protection). Today, it’s a two-hour drive.


When forced to travel by land, most colonists walked, using Native American paths. Or they ran. (And there was no Nike or New Balance to cushion their soles, either.)

Traveling in America in 1654

Thirty years after the first Thanksgiving feast, travel in America hadn’t improved much. If you needed to get between two typical colonial towns, such as Providence and Lynn, the 60-mile journey required a five-day horseback ride with a ferry trip across the bay. Today, it’s an hour by car.

Traveling in America in 1770


About 150 years after the first Thanksgiving, travel in America began to speed up. By combining land and water transportation, you could get from New Brunswick to Philadelphia in two days. Today, it only takes an hour and 20 minutes—with no boating necessary.

Traveling in America in 1830

About 200 years after the first Thanksgiving, things got even faster. Thanks to thousands of miles of new roads, the trip between Boston and New York was reduced to a day and a half. Today, you can fly this route in 45 minutes.

This is just a small picture of how dramatically travel in America has evolved and continues to evolve. During the time of the first Thanksgiving, travel was not only long and arduous, but also expensive and potentially life threatening. So while it’s easy to complain about extra baggage fees, lost luggage, and weather delays, at the end of the day, we have it pretty good.

So the next time a friend grumbles about problems with their travel plans or that everything is out of their budget, encourage them to look on the bright side. With sites like Roomer, you can get Amazing Deals and don’t have to worry about nonrefundable reservations. And you can get perks for referring a friend. It wasn’t too long ago that such travel benefits did not even exist. Can you imagine what’s to come next?

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!



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