P&N BLOG | The Thanksgiving 2023 Road Trip Race & Tips for a Smoother Journey
Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, family, and, inevitably, travel. As we prepare for the festivities of Thanksgiving 2023, a familiar challenge looms on the horizon – the annual pilgrimage to reach our loved ones. This year, the road to Thanksgiving dinner may be particularly fraught, with an estimated 55.4 million Americans embarking on journeys of at least 50 miles. According to AAA, this surge in travel makes it the busiest Thanksgiving season since 2019, underscoring the importance of strategic planning for those hitting the road.
The 2023 Holiday Road Trip Race
The vast majority of Thanksgiving travelers—49.13 million, to be exact—will be traversing the nation’s highways by car. With millions converging on the same travel corridors, traffic delays are inevitable. However, AAA suggests that with a bit of forethought and flexibility, drivers can minimize the frustration of holiday congestion.
Let’s Look At The Thanksgiving Travel Data
To better understand the ebbs and flows of Thanksgiving traffic, AAA turned to INRIX, an analytics firm specializing in transportation. Analyzing projected travel periods from Wednesday, Nov. 22, to Sunday, Nov. 26, the data reveals crucial insights for drivers.
The ‘Worst’ Times to Drive
If you’re dreading getting stuck in a sea of brake lights, the data pinpoints the peak congestion hours: (all times are CST)
– Wednesday, Nov. 22: 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
– Thursday, Nov. 23: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
– Friday, Nov. 24: 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
– Saturday, Nov. 25: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
– Sunday, Nov. 26: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Interestingly, the absolute worst time for congestion is the kickoff on Wednesday, Nov. 22, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The ‘Best’ Times to Drive
To avoid the chaos, consider hitting the road during these recommended windows: (all times are CST)
– Wednesday, Nov. 22: Before 11 a.m.
– Thursday, Nov. 23: Before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
– Friday, Nov. 24: Before 11:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m.
– Saturday, Nov. 25: Before 12:00 p.m.
– Sunday, Nov. 26: Before 12:00 p.m.
While these windows offer general guidance, it’s crucial to note that peak congestion varies from city to city. For instance, San Francisco anticipates its peak congestion on Sunday at 7 p.m., while Denver expects it on Friday around 5:45 p.m. These variations highlight the need for city-specific travel planning.
The Growing Trend
AAA’s data reveals a consistent uptrend in Thanksgiving travel, with projections surpassing 50 million since 2017. This surge, only rivaled by post-9/11, pre-recession trends in 2005 and 2007, underscores the increasing importance of strategic planning for holiday travel.
As we gear up for Thanksgiving 2023, the road ahead may be congested, but with timely departures and a touch of flexibility, drivers can navigate the holiday traffic with a little more ease. Remember, the journey is as important as the destination, and a smooth drive sets the tone for a joyful Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends. Safe travels!