Google just released its Thanksgiving traffic data.

By Sarah Yang
November 16, 2017
Harvey Schwartz/Getty Images

There’s a lot to look forward to on Thanksgiving: good food and quality time with friends and family. But one thing you might dread even more than an awkward political conversation at the table? Dealing with traffic.

Google released its Thanksgiving traffic data just in time, so you can plot your journey on the road. After looking at historical Google Maps data from 2016 on a national, state, and metro area level, the experts at Google calculated the best and worst times to leave and return during Thanksgiving week (the day before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after Thanksgiving). And although the lightest traffic can be found between the hours of 9 p.m. and 4 a.m., Google excluded that time period from its data as they don’t recommend driving long distances then.

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Generally, they found the best time to leave is actually early morning on Thanksgiving Day (for all major metro areas), as the busiest time to leave is Wednesday late afternoon. While each city will vary with optimal return trip times, Saturday or Sunday early morning would be the best times to head back home—they suggest avoiding a return trip on Friday or Saturday in the late afternoon.

Google also looked at some major metro areas for specific timetables. Check out a few below, and see the rest at mappingthanksgiving.com.

Atlanta

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 3 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 4 p.m.

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 3 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Sunday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Day after Thanksgiving (Friday) at 3 p.m

Chicago, Illinois

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 4 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Sunday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 4 p.m.

Dallas, Texas

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 3 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Sunday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 4 p.m.

Denver, Colorado

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 3 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 3 p.m.

Los Angeles, California

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: The day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 4 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Sunday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 2 p.m.

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Miami, Florida

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 4 a.m.
  • Best day to return: Sunday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Day after Thanksgiving (Friday) at 3 p.m.

New York, New York

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: The day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 4 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Sunday after Thanksgiving at 3 p.m.

San Francisco/Bay Area, California

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 4 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 5 p.m.

Seattle, Washington

  • Best time to leave: Monday before Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.
  • Worst time to leave: Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 4 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Sunday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 4 p.m.

Washington, D.C.

  • Best time to leave: Thanksgiving day itself at 6 a.m.
  • Worst time to leave: Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) at 3 p.m.
  • Best day to return: Sunday after Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
  • Worst day to return: Saturday after Thanksgiving at 4 p.m.

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