Thanksgiving can feel like the best of times and the worst of times. You have delicious food, football and family to look forward to, but you have potential travel nightmares, unpredictable weather and….family! While the vast majority of people who travel for Thanksgiving will do so by car, they will experience 5% less traffic and congestion than in previous years due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

AAA Travel anticipates at least a 10 percent drop in all holiday travel due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, which would be the largest one-year decrease since the Great Recession in 2008. The decision to travel is a personal one. For those who are considering making a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the flexibility to change travel plans right up until the day of departure.

Tourists are also expected to drive shorter distances and reduce the number of days they are away. Knowing the best times to get on and off the road can certainly help to relieve some of that extra Thanksgiving stress.

Avoid Wednesday afternoon / evening.

The worst time to hit the road is Wednesday afternoon. If you plan on driving in the late afternoon or early evening (5 to 7:30 pm) around Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Boston or Houston, your trip could take up to 3½ times longer than usual. Traffic peaks the night before Thanksgiving, with traffic looking particularly bad between 10pm and midnight. So if you can, avoid leaving during the traditional after-work hours

Come home from Thanksgiving on Saturday.

Eat, relax and then leave on this day to really beat the crush. Road conditions on the Saturday after the Thanksgiving should be similar to regular Saturdays. Those heading home on Sunday will be hit with gridlock along the way.

Worst Travel Times

Worst Time to Leave:

According to the AAA report 5:30-7:30pm on Wednesday, November 25 is when traffic is expected to be at its peak. However, Google data suggests that you may hit traffic congestion as early as 3 pm on Wednesday as people leave work early.

Worst Time to Return: The worst time to return home is expected to be 4pm on Saturday.

Best travel times:

Best Time to Leave:

Google says the early bird really does get the worm. The data says the best time to travel to your destination is at 6am on Thanksgiving morning.

Best Time to Return:

The best time to return home is around 6am on Saturday.