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Google’s Thanksgiving report can help you avoid traffic and crowds

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Helping you live your best life

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

With millions of people traveling long distances to visit family and friends, Thanksgiving traffic can be a complete nightmare. Google Maps already offers information about how congested the roads are on typical days, and now the team has produced a report specifically for Thanksgiving that shows the busiest periods before and after the holiday. In addition to traffic, the report also shows historically busy times at shopping centers and movie theaters so you can avoid the lines.

The report’s conclusions about the busiest times to travel won’t be a surprise. Between 3PM and 4PM on Wednesday is the worst time to travel, but Friday and Saturday afternoons also have spikes. If you need to travel, Google recommends that you make your journey in the morning, although its report notes variations between different cities.

Not all cities are the same.
Image: Google

Outside of road traffic, the report also includes information on when specific attractions are busiest. Movie theaters are especially popular on Friday afternoon, while bakeries and liquor stores spike in the run-up to the holiday as people stock up for Thanksgiving dinner.

Different attractions spike in popularity at different times over the weekends.
Image: Google

State variations in the popularity of searches for different attractions are especially peculiar. Although Google notes that outlet malls and tree farms are popular searches on Maps nationwide over the weekend, in California, city courthouses mysteriously spike in popularity on Friday, while the state of West Virginia is particularly fond of locating sandwich shops.

Google doesn’t say whether its holiday data will be rolled into Google Maps properly, but it’s worth taking a look at the report as you plan for this year’s festivities.