Whatever your family's Thanksgiving traditions are, and no matter what you love most about this American holiday, there is one thing everyone can agree on. The best part about Thanksgiving is spending time with your family and friends.
Of course, there's a downside to every holiday, but especially Thanksgiving: traveling. You might be one of the tens of millions of Americans who get on a plane, train, bus or car.
Of those, more than 54 million Americans will go on the road this week. Which can mean just one thing: You'll get stuck in traffic if you don't know how to avoid it.
We've got some travel tips that will save you a lot of time and aggravation. The best part is, by following these travel tips, you'll get to spend more time with your family.
You'll have more time to eat Thanksgiving dinner, watch football and, of course, take a post-Thanksgiving-dinner nap.
Google Maps Holiday Traffic Guide
You get stuck in traffic at some point each week, no matter where you live. It might be on weekday mornings when people are heading to school and work, and in the evening when they're going home.
But holiday travelers mess up normal traffic patterns. Do you know when Thanksgiving traffic is heaviest by you?
Well, Google does. Google Maps looks at traffic patterns in cities around the country from last year's last Thanksgiving to help you avoid getting stuck in traffic this year.
Since holiday travelers move with a different schedule than regular travelers, Google also provided a Thanksgiving traffic pattern guide to pinpoint when to expect heavier traffic on Thanksgiving weekend for a number of metro areas.
Heaviest Thanksgiving traffic
Not surprisingly, traffic everywhere tends to initially spike heavily on the night before Thanksgiving and it continues on through the early hours of Thanksgiving morning. The best times to travel are on Thanksgiving Day itself.
Another spike occurs on Thanksgiving afternoon through Friday morning most likely due to the Black Friday shopping rush.
The last spike happens on Sunday morning because of all the commuters trying to travel home.
But, while national traffic patterns are helpful, it's more helpful to know when traffic spikes where you live.
For instance, in the New York metro, traffic surges on Thanksgiving afternoon when people are going to, and coming home from, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
To further help you avoid the Thanksgiving holiday traffic rush, Google also provided a handy interactive tool you can use to determine the best time to leave based on last year's data.
Simply choose your metro are on the drop-down box and the tool will give you the best and worst times to travel on your Thanksgiving road-trip.
Another handy tool is a graph that lets you see how traffic changes all throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Places to avoid
"Where are all these people going?" It happens every holiday, no matter where you live or where you're spending the holiday.
You're driving along at a nice clip and then, slam! You brake for bumper-to-bumper traffic. Traffic stops for no logical reason, or at least it seems that way.
But, as it turns out, people just like you visit specific locations, like stores and entertainment venues, a lot more than they would on a typical day. Those locations vary by city.
For instance, in Phoenix, people are a lot more likely than normal to visit groceries and the supermarket on Thanksgiving. That's based on Google search terms.
Where does traffic stall where you live? Find out by clicking here and scrolling down to Uniquely Popular Local Searches.
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Watch out for these clever holiday scams
The holidays are a time to be joyous, spend time with family, eat well and give to our loved ones. But, it is also a time when scammers are on the prowl knowing that you might have your guard down during this festive time of year. In particular, scammers and hackers will be looking for ways to take advantage of you and your possibly distracted demeanor. Here is what you need to look out for to protect yourself.