The Best and Worst Times to Hit the Road for Thanksgiving, According to AAA

Photo:  Sundry Photography (Shutterstock)
Photo: Sundry Photography (Shutterstock)

The calendar says next week is Thanksgiving, which means a large portion of the country will be hitting the road to share a meal with out-of-town family or friends—kicking off the third holiday season of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

So, how many people are we talking about? The American Automobile Association (AAA, aka “Triple A”) is predicting that 54.6 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving—a 1.5% increase over 2021, amounting to 98% of pre-pandemic figures. In fact, AAA projects that 2022 will be the third-busiest Thanksgiving travel weekend since the organization began tracking these numbers in 2000.

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AAA defines the “Thanksgiving holiday travel period” as the five-day stretch from Wednesday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 27, and has recently released their travel forecast for each day. These are the best—and worst—times to embark on your Thanksgiving road trip.

The best and worst times to travel by car during Thanksgiving weekend 2022

If your Thanksgiving weekend travel plans currently involve getting in the car and winging it, you may want to reconsider—especially if you’re leaving on the Wednesday afternoon before the holiday, which when AAA anticipates traffic will peak.

Instead, take into account what their experts predict will likely be the best and worst times to hit the road that weekend:

Wednesday, November 23

  • Worst time: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Best time: Before 8 a.m. / After 8 p.m.

Thursday, November 24

  • Worst time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Best time: Before 11 a.m. / After 6p.m.

Friday, November 25

  • Worst time: 4—8 p.m.

  • Best time: Before 11 a.m. / After 8 p.m.

Saturday, November 26

  • Worst time: 4—8 p.m.

  • Best time: Before 2 p.m./ After 8 p.m.

Sunday, November 27

  • Worst time: 4—8 p.m.

  • Best time: Before 11 a.m. / After 8 p.m.

These are AAA’s nationwide predictions, but if you live in a major metropolitan area, peak congestion might hit on a different day or time, depending on the city’s traffic patterns. AAA has information on this here, including the corridors that will likely see the worst traffic.


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