Thanksgiving travel planning: best & worst times to drive


Thanksgiving Pies on Cooling Racks

Heading out  to Grandma’s for a home-cooked meal this Thanksgiving? Two words: leave early. This Thanksgiving, AAA says to expect more of everything this year over last year. Expect heavier traffic and higher gas prices when you hit the road. Gas rates are expected to be the highest in four years, with a national average of $2.79 as of November 1, 31-cents more than a year ago. And as for traffic:

“AAA projects 54.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 4.8 percent increase over last year. The 2018 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a dozen years (since 2005), with 2.5 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year. For the 48.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip, INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be as much as four times longer than a normal trip.”

The AAA Thanksgiving press release offers a chart with the worst time to hit the road in America’s largest cities and the worst travel times to the nation’s busiest airports. For Boston, they suggest that the worst time to hit the road is between 4 to 6 PM, noting that I-495 S from exits 41 to 33 will be the most congested. All in all, they say to expect a 3.5x delay multiplier.

As for factoring in weather conditions while you travel, AccuWeather says the northeast should expect bouts of snow and slick travel ahead of a frigid Thanksgiving. See maps for when and where the wintry mix is expected.

For another cool planning tool, Google’s Mapping Thanksgiving 2018 is an interactive feature that uses data from 2017 to offer insight into the places people visit around the holidays, when to visit them, and the best times to get on (or stay off) the road. You can search by state, view traffic patterns in key metropolitan areas and use an interactive feature to find out the best time to start your road travel.

 

Thanksgiving 2016: Best times to travel


Traffic jam

What’s America’s favorite Thanksgiving pie? If Google searches are any indication, then it’s pumpkin pie followed by apple. Unless you live in Alabama, Louisiana or Mississippi, where pecan pie is the favorite. At Google Trends, you can find out pie popularity by state, most searched for recipes, food and drinks and many other facts about what people are searching for this Thanksgiving. Popular searches include traditions like football, parades, and Black Friday shopping. The concept of “Friendsgiving” is gaining traction too.

One of the biggest searches is “best and worst times to travel” over Thanksgiving, and Google offers this handy infographic:

best driving times Thanksgiving

AAA projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of one million travelers compared with last year.
Driving remains most popular mode of travel for Thanksgiving – 89% of those who travel will drive.

According to GasBuddy’s 2016 Thanksgiving Travel survey, 52% of those traveling this year will be on the road for at least 4 hours; 20% of which will be driving 10+ hours. While these won’t be the cheapest gas prices we’ve seen int he last decade, they are stil pretty low. Gas Buddy says, “Over the Thanksgiving travel period, Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27, motorists will be collectively spending nearly $1.7 billion less at the gas pump than the five-year average.”

Although Thanksgiving dinner is the focal point, it’s also a huge weekend for shopping. Check out our post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza safety tips. Whether you’re shopping online or in stores, we offer pointers on how to avoid scams, pickpockets and thieves!

Best & Worst Thanksgiving Driving Times


If you’ll be driving to visit friends or family on Thanksgiving, you’ll enjoy remarkably low gas prices. Gas Buddy reports that the national average per gallon is $2.139, down .73 from last year’s average of $2.876! And last year, we thought that was cheap! Here’s a map so you can see state-by-state gas rates.

It’s a good idea to plan your best routes and times now. You can get some tips about the best and worst times for Thanksgiving road travel via Waze, a community-based mobile app that tracks traffic trends around the world. Waze analyzed data from 2014 to make predictions for the best and worst times for traffic this Thanksgiving.

First, the best time for driving to and fro is Thanksgiving Day itself.

They predict a number of “worst days” for pre-holiday

  • Tuesday, November 24, beginning at 1 pm, with a peak between 4 pm and 8 pm
  • Wednesday November 25, starting at 11 am and lasting through the day

…and worst days for post-holiday

  • Sunday, November 29 – rush hour will last all day
  • Monday, Monday November 30 – expect a heavier rush hour from 10am through noon

Google Maps also offers a day-by-day breakdown of predicted traffic. They suggest that Tuesday is slightly better travel day than Wednesday for getting there – but one local place that might be an exception is in Boston, where Tuesday tends to be historically worse. For traveling back home, they suggest that Sunday is a better day to travel back home than Saturday, which can be 40% worse. We’ve excerpted a few visual tips from their 2014 blog, check them out below.

And if you plan to be on the road, Consumer Reports offers some good Thanksgiving driving planning and safety tips – check them out!

 

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Thanksgiving-palooza: Recipes, Safety Tips, Humor & More


We thought that we’d make a Thanksgiving post that is just like the way we like our meal: a little of this, a little of that and topped off with some sweets.

One of the pre-dinner traditions for many is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Check out this cool gallery of old-time photos from the early days of the parade – there’s also some fascinating historical info:

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924, though then it was called the Christmas Parade. In its earliest years, entertainment came in the form of animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. The first float, Felix the Cat, appeared three years later in 1927. At that point, after the parade was done, officials would just release the tethers and let the balloons float away; there was a $100 prize awarded to anyone who could find and return one to Macy’s. That event was discontinued in 1933 after a guy crashed his plane trying to secure a runaway balloon.

Image: Macy's Inc.

Image: Macy’s Inc.

For the cooks, Yankee Magazine offers a Turkey FAQ: A Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet, along with a Thanksgiving Timeline – starting 3-days before your dinner right up until serving time. They also offer 25 Thanksgiving tips.

For some unique recipes, The New York Times weighs in with the United States of Thanksgiving, a collection of recipes that evoke each of the 50 states (and D.C. and Puerto Rico).  For a more traditional take, we turn to Yankee’s No-Fuss Thanksgiving Menu – replete with recipes for Roast Turkey with Cornbread-and-Sausage Stuffing, Giblet Gravy, Creamed Onions, Herbed Mashed Potatoes, Maple Walnut Acorn Squash, Easiest Brussels Sprouts and Julie Sahni’s Cranberry Chutney. Or try traditional recipes with a twist. And for the day after, here are some great Thanksgiving Leftover recipes

The one thing you don’t want on the menu is a kitchen fire – Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires involving cooking – three times the average number. Review some kitchen safety tips from the National Fire Prevention Association. And if you are considering fried turkey, be sure to see our last year’s post of advice from William Shatner.

We advise avoiding the emergency room altogether. It’s a busy place on Thanksgiving – besides burns, frequent injuries are cuts from carving, sports injuries, food contamination, overeating and over-drinking, family disputes that lead to physical altercations. It’s always best to avoid post-Thanksgiving food poisoning.

OK, we’ll leave you with a few Thanksgiving-related amusements. Have a safe & wonderful holiday!

A Thanksgiving Cautionary Remix from William Shatner


Planning on frying your turkey this year? We have some tips from the Captain. William Shatner offers some autotuned safety advice about deep frying turkeys – a fun video with a serious message.

Think he is exaggerating the dangers? Check out these Eight Explosive Deep-Fried Turkey Disaster Videos – pretty scary!

Even if you don’t plan to deep fry your dinner, be cautious in the kitchen –  Red Cross says that cooking fires nearly double on Thanksgiving Day, occurring more than twice as often than on another day. They offer some Thanksgiving kitchen safety tips. (PDF)