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How to make Thanksgiving travel less miserable

If you are driving to your turkey dinner next week, Google Maps offers seven helpful pointers.

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Matt Elliott/CNET

Turkey and traffic, two time-honored Thanksgiving traditions. I'll leave it to you to find your own turkey-roasting (or -frying or -grilling) technique, but I can point you to a post from Google's Official Blog to help you with the latter challenge. Google Maps looked at the traffic conditions of 21 US cities from the Monday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after for the past two years and offers some tips based on its findings.

The first tip will come as a surprise to no one: Avoid traveling on Wednesday. If you must drive on the day before Thanksgiving, however, don't leave work a couple of hours early to get on the road: the worst time for traffic is between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. that day. Instead, Google suggests leaving before 2 p.m. or after 7 p.m..

There are four exceptions to the above Avoid Wednesday rule. Boston traffic is the worst on Tuesday, while Honolulu, Providence, R.I., and San Francisco see the heaviest traffic on Saturday.

For your return trip, it may surprise you to find that Google recommends heading home on Sunday instead of Saturday (unless you find yourself in Honolulu, Providence or San Francisco). Google found that traffic can be up to 40 percent worse on Saturday. I guess people either like to get away from their extended family as quickly as politely possible or like to have a day to recover before going back to work -- or both.

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Google

The Eagles may be playing well, but if you live in Philadelphia, you have it the worst. Google's data showed the greatest increase in traffic on Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, followed by Austin, Texas, and Washington, DC.

For the curious, Google Maps looked at data from the following cities: Austin; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Honolulu; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Providence; San Francisco; Seattle; St. Louis; Tampa, Fla.; and Washington.

Note: this post was updated to correct an error about driving home on Sunday instead of Saturday. We had our days confused.