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Here’s When To Head Out For An Easier Thanksgiving Road Trip

by Staff

Are you heading over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house this Thanksgiving? Or is it more like heading across three packed highways, an over-crowded interstate, and a one-lane road with four lanes worth of traffic on it just to eat turkey with the in-laws? Holiday traffic can be so frustrating it can make you lose your good cheer and consider forgoing pie to stay home. Luckily, the folks at the American Automobile Association (AAA)  are here to help. They have put together a holiday travel timetable that just may help you get to memaw’s house in no time at all.


AAA released their annual Thanksgiving travel forecast and it turns out a lot of people will be driving more than 50 miles from during the holiday. Specifically, just over 49 million people will be driving a considerable distance over the “Thanksgiving holiday travel period”, which AAA defines as the five days from Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26. “For many Americans, Thanksgiving and travel go hand in hand, and this holiday, we expect more people on the roads, skies, and seas compared to 2022,” Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel said in a press release.


The specifics of when is the best and worst time to travel depend on the day of your departure. On Wednesday, the best time is before 11 a.m. and the worst time to travel is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Thursday, November 23, a.k.a. Thanksgiving Day, the best time to travel is either before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. The worst time to hit the road is between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. On Friday, November 24, try and head out before 11 a.m. or wait until after 7 p.m. The worst time to travel on Friday is between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. If you’re hitting the road on Saturday, November 25, the best time to depart is before 12 p.m. and the worst time to travel is between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. If you’re returning home on Sunday, November 26, leave before noon and avoid the roads between 3 and 5 p.m.


AAA also figured out when holiday traffic will hit its peak and you may want to avoid driving from Birmingham to Atlanta via 1-20E at 5 p.m. on Friday, when you can expect the trip to be 54% worse than usual and take just over four hours. If you’re traveling on Sunday around 4:45 p.m. from San Antonio to Houston, it will also take over four hours, with congestion up 38%. Anyone driving from Tampa to Orlando on I-4 on Thursday around 8:15 in the morning will have to sit tight as the road is expected to be 36% more congested than usual. Just remember to stay thankful while you’re sitting in traffic!

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