Thanksgiving Trips: Best and Worst Times to Go

Thanksgiving traffic is on the rise as families across the country plan to reunite now that coronavirus vaccines are available.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that Thanksgiving travel will reach pre-pandemic levels with an estimated 53.4 million people on the road.

Using traffic data from INRIX — a location-based analytics company that tracks motor vehicle movements — AAA was able to come up with an updated travel forecast that narrowed down the best and worst times to drive around Thanksgiving.

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The American Automobile Association predicts Thanksgiving travel will reach pre-pandemic levels with an estimated 53.4 million people on the road.
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According to INRIX traffic data, the best driving times are on Wednesday after 9pm, Thursday and Friday before 11am and Saturday and Sunday before 12pm

The worst driving times are Wednesday from noon to 8pm, Thursday from noon to 3pm, Friday from 1pm to 4pm, Saturday from 2pm to 7pm, and Sunday from 1pm to 7pm

INRIX’s Best Times to Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    • Wednesday: after 9 p.m.
    • Thursday: before 11 o’clock
    • Friday: before 11 o’clock
    • Saturday: before 12.00 o’clock
    • Sunday: before 12.00 o’clock

INRIX’s Worst Times to Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    • Wednesday: 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
    • Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    • Friday: 13.00 to 16.00
    • Saturday: 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Sunday: 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM

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“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest road trip holidays and this year will be no different, even during the pandemic,” INRIX transportation analyst Bob Pishue said in a statement. “Drivers around major subways should be prepared for significant delays, especially Wednesday afternoons. Knowing when and where congestion will develop can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

The 10 U.S. subways likely to see the worst traffic on Thanksgiving on Wednesday are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. According to INRIX data, these cities will see traffic rise between 211% and 482% anytime between 1pm and 6pm

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Rising Thanksgiving travel numbers are the main reason travel experts and bloggers recommend vacationers leave earlier than usual. In some cases involving flights, experts recommend that people arrive three to four hours early to ensure they get through security checks and other long lines without a hitch.

Travel experts say Americans should arrive at airports three to four hours before their scheduled flight in anticipation of Thanksgiving crowds.

Travel experts say Americans should arrive at airports three to four hours before their scheduled flight in anticipation of Thanksgiving crowds.
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Last year, the AAA predicted that 50 million Americans would travel during Thanksgiving, but in reality the number was 47.1 million. And the year before that, the association’s prediction of 55 million Thanksgiving travelers was exceeded with 56 million Americans actually traveling during the holidays.

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“This Thanksgiving, travel will be very different from last year,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “With borders open and new health and safety guidelines in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holidays.”

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