Traveling for Thanksgiving? These Are the Best Travel Times

Selena Barrientos, Taylor Mead
·3 min read
Photo credit: DANNY HU
Photo credit: DANNY HU

From House Beautiful

Thanksgiving Day may be two months away, but you're traveling this holiday season, the time is approaching to start planning. Of course, before making any plans amid the Coronavirus pandemic, it's important to check with local and CDC guidelines to comply with your destination's requirements and restrictions. Once you've determined you can travel safely, you’ll want to get caught up on Thanksgiving Day travel times to and from the airport. And if you won’t be flying to your Turkey Day destination—opting to drive instead—you’ll still appreciate being informed about the best and worst times to get a move on.

Last year, the American Automobile Association (AAA) projected that 55 million Americans would travel 50 or more miles from home during Thanksgiving—the most since 2005 and up 2.9 percent from the previous year. Although this year’s AAA report has yet to be released and you can expect holiday travel to look different due to the pandemic, here’s a quick overview of what 2019 and 2018 patterns looked like. Make sure to check back here in the coming weeks when we’ll learn more about the best Thanksgiving travel times for 2020!

Photo credit: Malandrino - Getty Images
Photo credit: Malandrino - Getty Images

Not surprisingly, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips every year. Last year, transport analyst at INRIX, Trevor Reed, shared with AAA that travel times would peak on Wednesday, taking as much as four times longer. So if, traffic patterns follow 2019, your best bet is to leave on Thanksgiving Day this year.

Los Angeles

Worst Day For Travel: Wednesday
Worst Time For Travel: 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Delay:
up to 3.5 times as long as usual

Washington, D.C.

Worst Day For Travel: Wednesday
Worst Time For Travel:
3:00-5:00 p.m.
Delay: up to 2.8 times as long

Photo credit: Scott Olson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Scott Olson - Getty Images

When going to the airport, you’re either one of two people: You arrive to your gate hours before the flight is set to depart or you resort to running through the airport because you didn’t leave early enough (again!). It goes without saying that it's better to leave as early as possible, especially during the holiday season. Not only will there be more cars on the road making their way to the airport, aka causing traffic, but the security lines are also longer than usual, and unless you’ve signed up for TSA Pre✓, you’ll be forced to wait your turn. It’s even more important to plan extra buffer time if you’re traveling to these airports. Here's the data from 2018:

Dallas

Airport Route: Downtown to DFW via TX-183 W
Worst Time For Travel:
Monday, 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Travel Time At Peak:
30 minutes

New York

Airport Route: Downtown to JFK via Long Island Expressway East
Worst Time For Travel:
Tuesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Travel Time At Peak:
1 hour, 19 minutes

Don't worry, though! In the end, all that wine, pie, and stuffing will be worth it. Of course, it will taste a little yummier warm, so try not to be late.

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