Your Thanksgiving Travel Could Be Delayed. Here's the Best Time to Leave

We'll tell you when you should avoid traveling for Thanksgiving, as well as the worst time to go Black Friday shopping.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Katie Teague
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Traveling to someone's house for Thanksgiving? Not only do you need to keep an eye on traffic, but also the weather -- specifically if you live on the east coast. A major storm could cause delays in air and on the road this evening. Aside from that, not knowing the best time to hit the road can cause even more stress and make the holidays less enjoyable. But there's good news -- you can learn when a better time to travel is, and what time frame to avoid, depending on the day you decide to head out.

Also, if you plan on shopping Black Friday deals in stores rather than online, there are a few hours during the day that you'll want to stay home to avoid the busy crowd. 

Google shared a prediction of what the traffic will be like this week, leading up to Thanksgiving and Black Friday. We'll tell you the best times to make your travel plans, as well as shopping plans. For more, here are some Google Maps tips you should use for your holiday travel.

The best and worst time to travel for Thanksgiving

If you're going out of town to have your Thanksgiving meal at a friend or family member's house, you'll probably want to travel when you'll experience the fewest delays. According to Google, the best time to hit the road is the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving at around 8 p.m.

You should avoid traveling on Tuesday and Wednesday between the hours of 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. when Thanksgiving traffic is at its peak. Not to mention, that's typically when the rush hour traffic happens from those leaving work.

If you can't leave until Thanksgiving Day, you'll want to make sure you leave before noon or after 4 p.m. Google says you should stay off the road between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Also, if you're flying on a Saturday, add some extra time to your schedule if you need to be there around 11 a.m. -- that's typically when airports are busiest.

The best time to head home after Thanksgiving

If you're staying a night or two at a friend or family member's house while traveling, there's a better time to leave to avoid getting stuck in traffic. If you're leaving Saturday or Sunday, don't even think about setting out between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. unless you don't mind the congestion. Instead, try to leave at around 7 p.m. or later.


You may be better off shopping online Black Friday deals.


Here's the worst time to shop Black Friday sales in store

If you're shopping Black Friday deals, you can avoid the crowd altogether by shopping online. Many companies put some of their best sales online so you can shop from the comfort of your home. However, if it's a tradition to go Black Friday shopping in stores, there's a time frame you should steer clear of the roads. Peak traffic hits between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., so you may not make it in time to get those AirPods on sale if you head to the store around then. 

Instead, Google says you should head to the stores before noon or after 7 p.m. 

For more tips, check out this Thanksgiving cheat sheet for home and kitchen hacks. Also, here's how to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.