Best and Worst Times to Travel During Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving is next week, which means it’s time to get in your car, eat a bunch of road snacks, and head halfway across America to eat a fat bird. This influx of traffic can add a few extra hours to your trip, but Google has shared a wealth of traffic data that can help you avoid the worst of it.

While this may differ slightly depending on where you are, Google has a few general suggestions:

  • Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) around 3:00 pm is the worst day and time to travel for Thanksgiving.
  • If you need to leave on Wednesday, hit the road around 6am to avoid traffic delays.
  • The Sunday before Thanksgiving at 6am is the best day and time to travel for Thanksgiving.
  • Friday morning (the day after Thanksgiving) at 6 AM is the best time and day to return from your Thanksgiving trip.
  • Saturday around 4:00 pm is the worst day and time to return from a Thanksgiving trip.
  • If you need to leave on Saturday, hit the road around 6am to avoid traffic delays.

We got similar data from Waze in an email, although they also have a couple of tidbits that fill the holes in Google’s data:

  • According to Waze, the best day to travel is Thanksgiving morning.
  • If you have to drive on Sunday after Thanksgiving, don’t do it between 11:00 and 18:00, this is the worst time for traffic jams.
  • Waze thinks the Monday after Thanksgiving is the best day to travel after the holiday if you can turn it around and take an extra day off.

If you like clean data, Waze shares this as well:

In terms of the worst time to travel, there are many crowds on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, including:

  • 33% increase in the number of accident warnings
  • 26% more hazard warnings
  • 20% increase in traffic alerts

So, depending on where you are heading, you might want to tweak the travel times a bit to at least avoid the worst of them. Remember to avoid roads near airports if possible, as there will be a lot of people flying. At the very least, make sure you collect as many distractions as possible to keep yourself occupied .


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