Here’s how readers feel about Thanksgiving travel

"Not spending Thanksgiving with our extended family for the first time in my lifetime."

Amtrak passengers make their way to a waiting train at Boston's South Station at the start of the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, with their luggage in tow on Nov. 11, 2017. Jonathan WiggsGlobe Staff Reporter

When we asked readers about their travel plans for Thanksgiving, many of the nearly 100 respondents said plans have changed dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Gathering with family and friends for extended amounts of time is “likely the worst possible scenario for spreading the virus,” Baker said during a press conference last month and the state has released guidelines for safely celebrating Thanksgiving that include keeping gatherings small, following Massachusetts travel orders, wearing masks, and social distancing.

“For the first time ever (over 40 yrs), looking at spending Thanksgiving alone and not with our children and grandchildren,” wrote a reader. “There is nothing worse than this.”

Ahead, check out what readers are doing for Thanksgiving during this unprecedented year.

Some have canceled the holiday

Many readers said they won’t travel this Thanksgiving, and some will cancel the holiday altogether. Some will work, and others said they will have a quiet day at home, even though, in some cases, close family is just 10 miles away.

One reader will forego spending time with a 90-year-old parent. Another is “afraid to fly” and will stay home rather than visit children in other parts of the country. A Connecticut reader is “so sad” about missing the holiday with family in the Boston area, but will “try to concentrate on how grateful we are for all being healthy.”

“Mine is cancelled so just home taking some days off,” wrote Michael Therrien.

“Staying away from gatherings,” wrote Michele Mickee Lynn.

“It’s just me, my husband and the cats,” wrote a reader. “Usually, we would be hosting friends or visiting with family, but this year, we don’t want to put people at risk.”


“We will stay at home alone and just check in with friends and family by Zoom after dinner,” wrote another.

“Nonexistent,” wrote Donny about travel plans. “But nonexistent because the whole family thought it was the right thing to do this year.”

“My 90 year old mother lives in an ‘Independent Living’ facility and I had planned to have Thanksgiving with her,” wrote one reader. “That is no longer advisable. I live alone so I’m not about to cook a turkey. I’ll have sweet potatoes, peas, and scallops. I might bake some bread. Oh yeah, a pumpkin pie, or little chocolate cake from Stop and Shop or Shaws.”

“Our thanksgiving plans have changed greatly,” wrote a reader. “We usually gather with extended family from multiple states — cousins, aunts, uncles, about 20 of us. This year we are cancelling and just celebrating with the immediate family we live with.”

“Thinking of going from the living room to the dining room,” wrote a reader about Thanksgiving travel plans. “If I feel lucky, might try the backyard too.”

Some will gather with their ‘bubble,’ outside, or on Zoom

Many readers say they will celebrate very differently this year due to COVID-19. Some who would normally hop a flight to see family in other parts of the country are staying put because they won’t risk traveling. Hosts report dramatically slashing guest lists. Some families will turn to Zoom for time with loved ones, and others will eat outside with extended family despite dropping temperatures. Quite a few readers said their Thanksgiving traditions have been “ruined” this year.


“We usually travel out of state to see extended family and have a big Thanksgiving gathering,” wrote a reader. “It’s the one holiday I see my brothers and Mom. This year it will probably be takeout with just my immediately family due to COVID — a family tradition of 20+ years ruined basically.”

“Not spending Thanksgiving with our extended family for the first time in my lifetime,” wrote a reader.

“Typically we go to my boyfriend’s family, where about 4-5 households gather for an early dinner, and then we go to my family’s gathering which is another 5+ households, for dinner,” wrote Allison Welhelm. “This year, our plan is just to visit his mom and dad for a brief meal. That’s it.”

“We will bundle up with jackets and blankets and dine outdoors, postponing if it rains,” wrote a reader. “We will scale back the ‘feast’ to just a few dishes that are easy to eat off paper plates in our laps.”

“Eating at home with immediate family,” wrote a reader. “If weather is nice, we will have an outdoor, socially-distant visit with extended family. As much as we would love to have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner together, we are not willing to risk it for those family members that are ‘at risk.'”

“Quarantining for two weeks before having dinner with family, who will also be quarantining beforehand,” wrote a reader. “We’re having fewer people than normal this year, but we’re making just as much food as normal because we need leftovers! It’ll be nice to get a chance to see them with masks off and maybe hug another human being for the first time in months.”


“Having a ‘zoom’ dinner with family!” wrote Michael Ascani.

“Seeing a few close family members who live in the area and have been in our ‘bubble,'” wrote a reader.

“I have been celebrating Thanksgiving with the same group of local friends for 45 years. Turkey, pies—all the usual stuff,” wrote a reader. “This year it will be Cornish Hen for two, at home.”

“I am staying home and celebrating with just my boyfriend and my dog, the members of my household,” wrote a reader. “Not risking eating indoors with anyone outside my bubble!”

“My family and I are staying home and having Thanksgiving with just the four of us,” wrote a reader. “Everyone else should do the same. It’s one year, you’d feel pretty terrible if you accidentally killed a family member.”

Others are traveling, say nothing has changed

Some readers said their Thanksgiving plans have not changed at all due to the virus. One reader is flying to Florida for Thanksgiving and another is flying to Portland, Oregon. One will take a road trip to Maine to be with family. Another is hosting family from three states: Texas, New Jersey, and Florida.

“Family plans same as normal,” wrote a reader. “No change. COVID will not rule our lives. Same size family gathering 10+. Out of state travel. Seeing people we haven’t seen in the last few months.”

“Being with family like every other year,” wrote Brandon Gillis.

“Not changing anything,” wrote a reader. “Having relatives over as usual.”

“I will celebrate with less than 10 in Massachusetts and no I won’t be getting a COVID test afterwards or before,” wrote a reader. “And I won’t be hanging out inside my own house with a mask on either. This is all getting a bit absurd.”


“Still having Thanksgiving, anyone that doesn’t feel safe can stay home,” wrote Hdxu. “It’s been 8 months, not doing this a whole year.”

“Enjoying an incredible meal with family and friends, as I do every single year,” wrote Shannon Marie. “Nothing will ever change that!”

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

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