From spending quality time with loved ones to devouring a delicious turkey dinner, we love everything about Thanksgiving — except for the dreaded Thanksgiving traffic. Anyone who’s ever driven anywhere before the big Turkey Day knows it’s a nightmare full of highway jams, red lights that seem a lot longer than usual, and incessant honking from impatient travelers. That’s why we’re so excited that Google is trying to help us avoid it as much as we can.
Based on traffic conditions from last year, Google released its predictions for the best time to hit the road for 25 different metropolitan areas. For almost every big city on the list, that best time is as early as possible on Thanksgiving Day — likely around 6 a.m. Perhaps not surprisingly, the worst predicted time to start driving is the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving (which we’re totally guilty of doing).
For some cities, like Houston, 3 p.m. on Wednesday is considered the worst time to start driving. For others, like St. Louis, 4 p.m. puts you in the toughest gridlock on the road. But even though most of the cities have about the same time estimate for the best time to leave, it’s quite interesting to look at the specific traffic conditions — and the exceptions to the rule. For example, if you live in Seattle, your best bet is apparently to hit the road way in advance — Monday at 8 p.m., to be exact.
It’s important to keep in mind that these are only predictions and cannot guarantee that leaving at that “perfect” time will leave you jam-free and stress-free. But it does give you a reasonably good idea of what to expect, especially since we’re sure many folks who visited family last year will likely be traveling the same route again this year. If you’re interested, all the data is available on Mapping Thanksgiving, which also provides some fascinating info about other Thanksgiving trends, like the most popular Google searches right before the holiday. (Spoiler alert: “Department store” is a big one.)
Happy Thanksgiving travels to you, and we hope you avoid at least some of the traffic!
As you prepare for the big day, learn some fascinating Thanksgiving facts you didn’t know:
h/t Travel & Leisure