When are the best and worst Thanksgiving travel times? Here’s what we know | Tech US News

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Last year’s Thanksgiving, the first since COVID-19 vaccines became widely available, was expected to jam America’s highways and airports as families traveled to see relatives they may not have seen in two years

AAA expected more than 53 million people to travel for the holiday, the vast majority of them by car. That was 13% more travelers than in 2020, but still 5% below 2019 levels. The underlying takeaway: As crowded as roads and planes may have been last year, there was still room for growth.

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, AAA has traditionally released a travel forecast that projects the worst (and best) times to hit the road or catch a flight during the nearly week-long transit peak surrounding the holiday. While AAA hasn’t yet released its forecast for 2022, its recommendations from last year provide an idea of ​​the times to avoid getting stuck in a car this year.

Wednesday afternoon and the evening before Thanksgiving has historically been a bear for commuters, with roads quickly collapsing as families leave work and school and head to relatives’ homes.

AAA last year designated midday to 8pm that Wednesday as a particularly awful travel period, with significant delays on major roads. One of the worst travel corridors in Massachusetts, AAA estimated, would be on Interstate 93. The northbound section from the Route 28 interchange in Quincy to Boston was projected to see 240% of its normal traffic volume.

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Thanksgiving traffic

Just east of Framingham, MA on westbound Interstate 90, November 24, 2010. Commuters take to the Massachusetts Turnpike in droves before Thanksgiving 2010. (Photo by Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty images)Boston Globe via Getty Images

After 9 p.m., AAA expected the roads to clear. For travelers committed to leaving on Wednesday, that would be the best window to do so.

Thanksgiving was not expected to have such heavy traffic last year. AAA said the worst travel period would be between noon and 3 p.m., while the best would be in the morning, usually before 11 a.m.

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With many people waiting for the weekend to return home, Friday would be an optimal date for the return. AAA said 1pm to 4pm would be the most congested period of the day. Before 11am was again expected to be the easiest time to move.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation made a similar projection last year, saying it expected Friday to be the clearest day for return trips.

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The worst return travel days, predictably, would be Saturday and Sunday, MassDOT said, especially Sunday. After Thanksgiving last year, the federal government’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics found the Sunday after the holiday to be the nation’s busiest day for air travel since the pandemic began. It’s usually the worst travel day of the year, the office said.

On Saturday, AAA recommended avoiding the hours between 2 and 7 p.m. The best travel times would be in the morning, he said. If traveling on Sunday, AAA again suggested leaving in the morning. The afternoon would probably see the heaviest travel on the worst travel day of the year.

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