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Google Maps releases tips for beating Thanksgiving traffic

Google Maps has released tips on the best times to travel and what to avoid during the Thanksgiving week across 21 major U.S. cities.
/ Source: TODAY

Sometimes, getting to that Thanksgiving feast requires a full helping of holiday traffic.

To better help navigate the hordes of cars on the road next week, Google released Google Maps traffic information on Tuesday from 21 cities across the country, using data measured in 2014 pulled from Android phones with location services enabled.

Google Maps, which has a billion monthly users across the world, analyzed the total number of cars on the road at certain times from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after the holiday.

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The takeaways from the data include:

  • The worst traffic day is Wednesday, except if you live in Boston (Tuesday), Honolulu, Providence or San Francisco (all Saturday).
  • The worst time to be on the road on Wednesday is between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., so it's better to either go early or wait until after 7 p.m.
  • Black Friday is not as bad as you think, traffic-wise. Tuesday and Saturday are the two other heaviest days besides Wednesday.
  • Traveling on Thanksgiving Day will also help you beat the traffic, as it's the lightest day of the week, with the most traffic coming between noon and 2 p.m. on the holiday.
  • If you're staying for a long weekend, it's better to return Sunday rather than Saturday. Google Maps found that the traffic is 40 percent worse on Saturday than the day after.
  • If you live in Los Angeles, get ready for a gridlocked holiday week. The city is the worst in the country for traffic during Thanksgiving week.
  • Washington D.C., San Francisco and Philadelphia (which was No. 1 in 2012 and 2013) follow L.A. among the three worst.

Google Maps also released information about what places people are searching for the most the day before Thanksgiving.

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It turns out that even though it's known as Turkey Day, "ham shops" are the most-searched destinations for last-minute errands. They are followed by pie shops and liquor stores.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.