The Best Day to Travel for Thanksgiving Is Thanksgiving Day Itself: Google

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People leaving Washington for Thanksgiving next week should forget about getting on the road on Tuesday or Wednesday and instead just get up early and drive on Thanksgiving Day, according to an analysis of holiday traffic by Google. Early Wednesday should be somewhat tolerable, the search giant found, but for the most part, DC drivers should expect next week’s traffic to be epically bad.

Washington is actually the second-worst of 21 major US cities where Google analyzed Thanksgiving travel patterns, trailing Los Angeles. To come up with the ranking and the least optimal times to travel, Google looked measured last year’s holiday travel by people with Android mobile devices that have location services enabled. In a press release, Google says the data were collected anonymously.

For DC, the absolute worst time to leave for Thanksgiving will be between 2 and 5 PM next Wednesday, with traffic reaching its absolute worst about 4 PM. People who start out before 1 PM or after 5 have slightly better chances of reaching their destinations in time, but only slightly. And leaving two days early isn’t much help—Google found the Tuesday before Thanksgiving is typically the third-worst day for traffic of the holiday week.

Holiday travelers are also better off saving their return trips for Sunday instead of coming back Saturday, which Google reports is DC’s second-worst traffic day during the holiday week.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.