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Turkey Day is almost upon us, but before you can even think about feasting on your favorite Thanksgiving menu (or tuning into Food Network's Thanksgiving programming), it's time to make some travel plans.
Last year, AAA predicted that more than 53.4 million people would travel during Thanksgiving, in the highest single-year increase since 2005. That may sound like a traffic jam waiting to happen, but believe us when we tell you that traveling on (or around) Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a nightmare. In fact, with proper planning and a little bit of luck, you'll be catching flights or burning rubber like a pro this Thanksgiving.
Google Maps has collected some data to give us more insight into traveling during Thanksgiving, including the busiest and least busy times and days to hit the road and which days the airports will be the most crowded. Between their guidelines and a few other tips we've got for you, you'll be all set! Read on for all the recommendations.
After gathering travel data for more than 20 major U.S. cities for Thanksgiving 2021, Google Maps reported that the best time to get on the road is typically the Monday before Thanksgiving at 8 p.m. local time. The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are historically the busiest travel days, especially around 4 and 5 p.m. If you plan to travel on Thanksgiving Day, you should know that the roads are the busiest between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Ideally, you should plan to head out before noon.
If you're a Black Friday shopper, you can expect traffic to pick up at around 4 p.m. that day (depending on where you live). And finally, for travelers returning home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it's best to stay off the roads around 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Early birds win on these days, but typically the best times to leave are 6 a.m. or 8 p.m. local time.
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