The best and worst times to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday

Millions of Americans travel around Thanksgiving every year. That means that whether you’re driving to grandmother’s house or taking an international flight this Thanksgiving, you should expect to deal with crowds. You can minimize your holiday travel stress, however, by strategically choosing what days and times to travel.

a person and a dog sitting on top of a car: The best and worst times to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday

The vast majority of travelers are expected to be driving to their Thanksgiving destinations. Major cities see the worst congestion during evening commute hours on the weekdays leading up to Thanksgiving as folks try to hit the road after work so they don’t have to use an extra vacation day to travel.

To avoid the worst traffic, head out early in the morning and try to travel on Thanksgiving Day, Friday or Saturday. Traffic also applies to those trying to drive to the airport to catch a flight, so allot extra drive time even if you’re flying this holiday season.

For those flying, the most expensive days to fly around Thanksgiving 2019 are the Friday before, the Saturday after and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, according to a report by Cheap Air. The most expensive of those days is the Sunday after Thanksgiving. You can save more than $110 per ticket on average by flying home a day later or more than $240 on average by waiting to fly home until the Tuesday after.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving 2019 will also see the largest crowds and longest security lines as more than 50% of airline travelers will make return trips that day, according to travel planning site Hipmunk. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will also be congested as 45% of travelers will depart for their holiday trips that day.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving Day consistently has the lowest average price per ticket and is the lightest travel day for fliers. The median booking price traveling Wednesday to Sunday is almost $500. But if you depart on Thanksgiving Day and return on Friday instead, you can save an average of $176 per person.

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