Traveling during the holiday season is tough, but if you know when to book your flight or when to hit the roads, it might not have to be. Knowing what the busiest travel days for Thanksgiving are can save you a headache. Once you plot out your itinerary keeping the peak travel days in mind, you'll be ready for a stress-free celebration.
First, let's take a look at when you should stay off the roads. Google Maps warns against "using everyday traffic trends in your area as a baseline" in its Mapping Thanksgiving analysis. Using data from the 2018 holiday season, the company says the holiday season can be totally atypical.
Overall, most places will experience much more traffic than a typical weekday on Wednesday, Nov. 27. Thanksgiving Day traffic on Thursday, Nov. 28 is significantly less congested than Wednesday, so Google suggests leaving early on Thanksgiving morning if you can. The roads won't be too congested on Black Friday, Nov. 29. The Saturday after Thanksgiving — Nov. 30 — has very light traffic, but the charts raise again on Sunday, Dec. 1, when people are heading home. So, in theory, traveling on Thanksgiving during the day itself and on the Saturday after Thanksgiving will save you some frustrating time spent on the road. The most crowded days on the road will be Wednesday and Sunday.
According to a press release from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), there is an expected "a record breaking number" of flights this Thanksgiving, with more than "26.8 million passengers traveling through security screening checkpoints nationwide Nov. 22 through Dec. 2." Furthermore, the administration listed the busiest travel days during Thanksgiving week to be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, and Dec. 1, the Sunday after. Nov. 27 is expected to have "2.7 million travelers and crew." In fact, TSA Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell said TSA “expect[s] record breaking travel volume this 2019 holiday season."
If you want to skip the crowds, take note of this insider knowledge from TSA and Google so you can travel more comfortably.