Want to get around Thanksgiving gridlock? Leave at ‘inconvenient’ times

Tens of millions are expected to drive for the Thanksgiving holiday, and that means intense gridlock will likely greet drivers as they hit the roads.

According to AAA, roughly 50 million Americans will get behind the wheel, an increase of nearly 2% when compared to last year.

The worst, most congested time to leave for Thanksgiving will be Wednesday, Nov. 22, between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., AAA said.

However, things will generally be busier than normal every single day for the next week or so.

“The getaway has been expanded to the point where it’s almost been diluted,” said WTOP Traffic reporter Dave Dildine. “With more telework and flexibility, a lot of families and travelers leave the week before Thanksgiving.”

For drivers, the best bet to get around the worst of the traffic is to leave early in the morning or late at night.

“Leaving at an inconvenient time usually maximizes your odds of making good time,” Dildine said. “You’ll find the roads are nice and quiet.”

The Transportation Security Administration was preparing for a packed week at airports, too.

“We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

John Busch, the TSA’s federal security director, said the busiest days usually are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday following.

The recommendation is to arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.

“Let me assure you that the TSA across the nation is ready for the busy season,” Busch said. “We’ve got excellent staffing, excellent technology; and we are going to do everything we can to make sure all of our travelers get through safely and efficiently.”

The TSA urged travelers to keep their ID handy and empty items out of their pockets as they approach the security checkpoint in order to be more efficient and save some time.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up