These are the best and worst times to travel this Thanksgiving

Google Maps, AAA help your family plan ahead

Traveling for the holidays can be stressful, but with a little planning and some help from AAA and Google Maps, your Thanksgiving road trip doesn’t have to be so bad.

AAA says it’s expecting the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume to date with more than 55 million travelers this year. The exact number AAA is expecting this year is 55.3 million, trailing only the 58.6 million travelers in 2005.

“Folks still have a lot of consumer confidence,” local AAA expert Nick Jarmusz explained as the reason behind the travel boom. “Disposable income is on the rise, as is household income. There are still a lot of economic factors that are making people comfortable spending the money that’s necessary to travel.”

Here in Wisconsin, more than one million people are expected to travel Thanksgiving week. The majority will be driving.

Google Maps is out with a new tool to help you avoid the worst traffic. Its ‘ Mapping Thanksgiving project gives families the best and worst times to hit the roads, stores, and more.

When to leave

Google says the busiest travel time for Thanksgiving travel is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. If you can, Google suggests leaving earlier in the day. If you can’t leave early, it says to wait it out as traffic clears up significantly by 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

Click here to find out what time is best to leave in your specific town.

“Anywhere that you’re going to be near the expressway is going to be more congested,” Jarmusz said, as a general rule of thumb. “If you’re heading down towards Illinois, you’re going to run into more congestion.”

Anywhere near Chicago or the Twin Cities is expected to be especially bad.

These are the best and worst times to travel this Thanksgiving

When to return

Google suggests avoiding the Friday or Sunday afternoon rush by leaving Sunday morning instead. Ideally, get up early and leave by 6 a.m. they say.

“Pack a lot of patience,” Jarmusz warned. “Whether you’re going to the airport or out on the roads, there are going to be a lot of people traveling with you. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time and be extra patient.”

These are the best and worst times to travel this Thanksgiving

Driving v. Flying

If you’re flying, don’t expect things to be much better: The TSA is expecting upward of 27 million flyers between the Friday before Thanksgiving and the Monday after, which would be four times higher than last year… and a new record!

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is expected to be the busiest day U.S. airlines have ever seen, with more than 3 million passengers flying.

When to shop

It depends on what kind of shopping you’re doing. The best time to visit a bakery, Google says, is Tuesday at 7 p.m., when it’s less crowded. Grocery stores are less crowded Tuesday at 9 p.m., and liquor stores are best to shop at around 10 p.m.

If internet shopping just won’t do it for you, plan to get up with the sun on Black Friday. According to Google, the best time to visit a shopping center is at 7 a.m. The worst time to go is at 1 p.m.

These are the best and worst times to travel this Thanksgiving

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