By Hannah Chubb


Google Maps and Google News Lab have released a helpful report about the best times to hit the road


One of the few downsides to Thanksgiving is the reliably terrible traffic that comes with it. But this year, all that could change.

Google Maps and Google News Lab have released a report on the best times to hit the road for Thanksgiving using trends data, including where and when people have searched for directions in years past. While the data varies by location, there are a few constants nationwide, including when traffic is heaviest during the holiday weekend: the night before T-Day.

RELATED: TSA Expects A Record Number of Travelers This Thanksgiving

According to Google, the worst time to leave before Thanksgiving is Wednesday from 3 to 4 PM, and the worst time to depart after Thanksgiving is Sunday afternoon. Good news for early birds: Based on last year’s data, they suggest leaving before 4am on Wednesday for the best pre-holiday travel, and heading back out on Friday before 4 . . . in the morning.

Those located in a major city can use Google’s tool to see how traffic patterns are expected to change in their area as the weekend goes on, as well as the best and worst times to leave for a holiday road trip. There’s also the option to see only daytime travel, if the turkey tends to make you a little extra sleepy.

Interestingly, the national data shows that Black Friday traffic is typically no heavier than an average Friday morning commute (do we have an influx of e-commerce to blame?), though the most commonly searched locations during the holiday are department stores.

Somewhat surprisingly, national searches for stores that sell ham — not turkey — reach their yearly peak the day before Thanksgiving. Google suggests procuring your holiday meats earlier in the week to avoid long lines or the risk of your local shop selling out.

Heading to your destination via planeCheck out our best tips for how to avoid (or at least prepare for) a holiday travel disaster at the airport.