Google shares Thanksgiving travel tips, activity trends based on data

WASHINGTON — With Thanksgiving fast approaching, here’s how holiday revelers should plan for travels and what online search trends show, according to Google.

Tracking tens of thousands of smartphone navigation maps offers insight into the best times for Thanksgiving road trips.

“We’ve been looking at some of the ‘Mapping Data’ in Google. The best day to leave is going to be the Sunday before Thanksgiving,” Google travel expert LaToya Drake said.

“You will not like what I’m about to say,” Drake added, “But 6 a.m. is the best.”

Of course, there’s no accounting for unexpected traffic hassles and wrecks that might cause congestion, but it can’t hurt to try to travel when fewer vehicles tend to be on the road.

Data collected by Google show the worst day to leave is Wednesday. And the best travel day to come home, Drake said, is Black Friday.

If you’re crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, recommended Thanksgiving travel times tend to be Wednesday through Sunday before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Visit WTOP’s traffic page for the latest updates, follow us on Twitter @WTOPtraffic, and listen to live traffic reports every 10 minutes on 103.5 FM or via our online stream.

Holiday activities trend

This time next week, family members might be debating what to do together over the next few days, and there are signs holiday traditions might be changing: Google searches reflect a trend toward family.

“It’s less about shopping and doing those Black Friday deals, which has been the trend for so many years, and more about doing things with the family,” Drake said.

On Thanksgiving Day, there’s also a growing number of searches to find movie kiosks placed at grocery and convenience stores for movie rentals.

“Then on Black Friday, this is one that I found really interesting — there’s a surge in searches for ‘Christmas tree farm’,” Drake said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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