When Is The Best Time To Travel During Thanksgiving Holiday?

Data may help you avoid some heavy traffic this Thanksgiving holiday. Google says it’s come up with some precise numbers to help you figure out the best time to hit the road.


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Google infographic on best time to travel during holiday weekend

Infographic courtesy Google

According to past years’ data from Google Maps, when it comes to the heaviest Thanksgiving traffic in America’s big cities, Houston comes in at #8.

And Google’s Patrick Lenihan says if you want to get out of town for the big holiday weekend, don’t travel on Wednesday afternoon.

“Definitely go sometime before 1:00 p.m. or after 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday,” says Lenihan. “You’ll beat the traffic that way.”

And when’s the best time to come home?

“A lot of people think that going back on Saturday is the way to go, figuring that most people will head out on Sunday,” Lenihan explains. “But the fact is what we found is that Saturday traffic is 22% worse than on Sunday.”

Lenihan says they also looked at Google Map searches to find out where people were going.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Houstonians headed to the liquor store. But on Thanksgiving Day they’re looking for doughnut shops.

Lenihan says he can only speculate.

“My theory is, that so much effort goes into preparing the Thanksgiving meal that mom and dad, at the beginning of the day, they just want to get some doughnuts, maybe even some kolaches,” says Lenihan.

As for Black Friday, Lenihan says one of the things Houstonians are looking for is Indian food. He thinks people want to get away from their traditional turkeys and have a bit of spice.

If you get caught in Thanksgiving traffic, you won’t be alone. Triple-A expects about 3.4 million Texans to travel by car during the long holiday weekend.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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