There was one year I remember driving from my house in Seattle to my mom's about 40 miles north on Thanksgiving Day, and it took me nearly three hours to get there. There was one accident that blocked a few lanes and everything was stopped. It was the first and last time I ever drove on actual Thanksgiving Day, always the night before after that.

Give thanks this holiday season to Google Maps, which has shared the gift of search data to help you avoid peak Thanksgiving travel times next week.

Here are some helpful hints on when to hit the road and when to wait out the traffic (check the links for more):

  • Avoid grocery stores on Thanksgiving Eve around noon.
  • Thanksgiving Eve traffic is at its worst between 10 p.m. and midnight.
  • Drive home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when road conditions will look the same as they do on any other Saturday.
  • Or drive home on the morning after Thanksgiving, when traffic is similar to your typical Friday-morning work commute.
  • Don't drive home on Thanksgiving night, when there's a post-dinnertime traffic surge.
  • Buy your Christmas tree on Saturday, not Friday. Search data shows that many more people go tree shopping around noon the day after Thanksgiving.

Seems standard, right? But it's a good reminder to not wait on that T-Gives shopping, even if it's a few last minute items. Those last minute items could turn into a last hour item.

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