WESTLAND, Mich. –– Last year, AAA estimated over 46 million people would make a pilgrimage of 50 miles or more for turkey on Thanksgiving, and it's right to assume that number could stay consistent this November. With copious cars and families making holiday journeys, traffic jams and gridlock are inevitable if you don't know when the best and worst times are to travel for Thanksgiving.
Fortunately, Google spent two years analyzing traffic conditions around the time of Thanksgiving and compiled a mass of helpful data for you to plan your Turkey Day travels around. Before you hit the road for the holidays, consider using these tips to plan your trip.
The worst day to travel is Wednesday.
If you haven't noticed, everyone else usually has the same brilliant idea as you do, which means millions of travelers are planning on taking half-days at work and making turkey trips on Wednesday. It's best to avoid traveling the day before Thanksgiving, but if you have to make the trip on Wednesday, avoid traveling from 3–5 p.m. when the heaviest traffic is likely to occur.
The best day to travel is Thursday.
Is it any surprise the day that most people are busy watching football or sitting down to feast on a bird also happens to be the best to travel on? It may not seem ideal arriving at your Thanksgiving destination on the day of, but if you like the idea of skipping out on traffic jams and gridlock then traveling on Thursday could work in your favor.
Watch more football on Saturday, head home Sunday.
It's understandable that you don't want to overstay your welcome at a family member's, or maybe you're just ready to get home. Either way, staying an extra day could save you from a stressful return journey. Heading-home, traffic on Thanksgiving weekend can be 40% worse on Saturday than on other days. On that note, have another helping of turkey and mashed potatoes, or one of these Thanksgiving side dishes, because you're sticking around until Sunday if you want to dodge traffic.
In addition to understanding when the best and worst times are to travel for Thanksgiving, it's good to know a few travel tips that can keep you safe on the road.
- Check the weather ahead before you set out to avoid accident-prone highways as well as the traffic jams that result from slower speeds and wrecks.
- Map your route in advance. Knowing where construction and busy roads are will significantly reduce your time on the road.
- Have roadside assistance contact information on hand. If you encounter a problem or you're involved in an accident, you should have your roadside assistance number and policy information ready.
- Make sure your vehicle is prepared for the drive. If your vehicle hasn't had any recent taken care of, it could have a few underlying issues developing. Stop by our service center for an oil change and to have your tires inspected before your long drive. It might also be helpful to take a look at our other car care and driving tips.
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