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What are the best Thanksgiving travel times? And, more importantly, what are the worst? Let us break it down for you.

 

Our friends at Boston.com were kind enough to pass this piece along, so I’m going to turn it into a handy-dandy holiday travel guide. But first, some numbers from AAA via the Boston.com article:

About 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes, according to the agency. About 49 million people will travel by car.

 

Crunch those stats and it’s clear: we’re pretty much back to pre-pandemic Thanksgiving travel habits. And with 54.6 million people traveling more than 50 miles from home and 49 million of those people driving, it’s clear to see that traffic is going to be a major issue in the coming days. Moreso than it usually is.

 

Still, though, I’ll say this: I’d rather sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic than get hung up at an airport for the Thanksgiving holiday. I remember it clearly. It was Thanksgiving 2008 or 2009. We had flown to Richmond, VA to visit family. And here I was, trudging through Richmond International Airport, pulling a suitcase with a precariously-balanced pack-and-play on top of it and carrying an infant travel car seat in my other hand.

 

I stopped in the middle of the terminal and said: “That’s it. I am never traveling by plane for the holidays with small children again.” And I didn’t. You can probably guess what happened after that.

 

The Best Thanksgiving Travel Times (and the Worst)

The Boston.com piece uses data from AAA and from transportation analytics company INRIX. I’ve taken what they’ve shared and made a list of the five best and three worst Thanksgiving travel times for you below. Happy Thanksgiving and, as my Great Grampa Chapman used to say, Happy Motoring!

 

  • The Worst Time To Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    Between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Wednesday

    Work from home Wednesday, anyone?

  • The Second Worst Time To Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday

    Best to rise with the sun and hit the road early if you’re traveling on Thanksgiving.

  • The Third Worst Times To Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    Between 4 and 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

    My move, if I’m traveling on the last day of a holiday weekend, is to leave after dinner.

  • The Best Time To Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    Before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m. on Wednesday

    For those who can’t work-from-home, maybe work late.

  • The Second Best Time To Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    Before 11 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on Thursday

    Again, the early bird gets the worm. And the worm in this case? No traffic.

  • The Third Best Time To Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    Before 11 a.m. and after 8 p.m. on Friday

    Up and out early on the day after, unless you’re spending the day. Then stay late.

  • The Forth Best Time To Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    Before 2 p.m. and after 8 p.m. on Saturday

    That early Saturday morning might be your best window of the lot.

     

  • The Fifth Best Time To Travel During Thanksgiving Week

    Before 11 a.m. and after 8 p.m. on Sunday

    Maybe just don’t travel at all on Sunday, OK?