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Best time to leave for Thanksgiving travel according to Google data



Los Angeles Traffic
Djansezian/Getty Images

  • Thanksgiving travel can be a headache — but the earlier
    you get on the road, the better, according to Google
  • Using Maps data from last year, Google engineers
    deciphered the optimum time to leave in dozens of major US
  • The downside: most of the optimum times are very, very
    early in the morning. 

More than
54 million Americans will hit the road this week
to celebrate the Thanksgiving with friends and
family this year, according to AAA.

And as anyone who’s traveled in the days surrounding the holiday
knows, all those cars on the road will only lead to one thing:

Engineers at Google took
baseline data from Google Maps to find out the best times
to leave in order to avoid bottlenecks
but some of the options might be even less appealing than sitting
in a freeway-turned-parking lot.

In New York, for example, the best time to leave is 4 a.m. on
Wednesday. The best time to return is even worse: Friday at 4

Google traffic thanksgiving data


Traffic tends to peak at about the same time on the Wednesday
before Thanksgiving, in the late afternoon. There’s also a slight
bump near 7 a.m. as the early birds hit the road.

Read more:

This image of gridlock traffic in LA makes Uber’s plans for
flying cars seem like a great idea

“For determining traffic conditions, we considered the
‘Thanksgiving Holiday Period’ to start the Wednesday before
Thanksgiving and end the Sunday after Thanksgiving,” the team
writes. “We analyzed the total number of cars on the road at a
given time, as determined by the speed and location of Android
phones that have location services enabled. All traffic
information is anonymous and taken in aggregate for 25 US cities
and nationally.”

You can use Google’s interactive tool to see the
best times for your city. But be warned, most of the best times
are extremely early in the morning, just like New York.

Luckily, there’s an option for daytime-only travel. But even
then, your best off departing right at 6 a.m.

Check out the handy interactive tool here. 



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