The best times for holiday travel and shopping, according to Maps data
November 18, 2022
This holiday season, we’d all like to get our shopping done as quickly as possible, right? Well, with the help of Google Maps trends, you will be able to choose the best times to shop, drive, and more so that you will spend Christmas very thankful and with less stress.
Holidays are back!
Once again, the holidays are just around the corner, and while we love the carols and delicious holiday foods like the famous gingerbread, the long lines and endless traffic of the holiday season are enough to turn anyone into a Scrooge.
But don’t be discouraged; what’s more, the Google team has worked hard to help you navigate like a pro this season and, with the help of Google Maps, has put together a couple of traffic predictions, popular schedules, and activity trends to get you out the door and on your way with ease.
The best times for Thanksgiving travel
Regardless of whether you hit the road early or hit the road on Thanksgiving Day, you can circumvent a potential slowdown by choosing the right time to leave. Here, we’ll take a look at last year’s Thanksgiving Day traffic patterns in more than 20 major U.S. cities to help you plan your trip and leave traffic in a hurry.
🚘 When to hit the road
According to statistics, the best time to hit the road before Thanksgiving is usually Monday at 8 p.m. local time. In addition, we advise you to avoid driving on Tuesdays or Wednesdays between 4 and 5 p.m., as this is generally when Thanksgiving traffic peaks.
🦃 Turkey-day travels
Planning to make your turkey trot on Thanksgiving day? To avoid mishaps, try to hit the road before noon or after 5 p.m., as the roads are usually most congested between 3 and 5 p.m., which could cause some problems.
💳 Black Friday shopping
Black Fridays are not worth being stuck in traffic for. During this day, we usually see traffic increase disproportionately around noon and peak around 4 p. m. in most places in the U.S. Thus, you need to get up a little early as you will see fewer cars on the road between 7 a. m., 10 a. m.
👋 Home for the weekend
To make sure your journey home is all gravy after the festivities are over, try to avoid the roads at 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Typically the best times to leave are 6 a.m. or 8 p.m. local time.
The best times to travel, shop and run errands
Certainly, vacation crowds are a snowy joke. Then, Google analyzed information from Popular Times to determine the best and worst times to visit the places you usually frequent during vacations, so you can spend more time celebrating than waiting in line.
Turkeys aren’t the only ones trying to fly out of here! What’s more, airports in the U.S. are often crowded on Saturdays at noon, so try to arrive even earlier if you’re traveling during that time. According to Maps recommendations, airports are less busy on Wednesdays around 8 p.m.
Craving something sweet? You can always wait in the long line at the bakery on Saturday at 10 a.m., although if you want to avoid the crowds, we recommend visiting these stores on Monday at 3 p.m.
🥫 Grocery Stores
You’ve been given the most important mission during the holiday season: to get the groceries and everything you need for Christmas Eve. Avoiding crowded grocery stores.
Don’t be pressured; you can still make it if you plan your shopping ahead of time, as you’ll have to avoid these places on Sundays at 1 p.m. Instead, you can try Tuesdays at 9 a.m.
💌 Post Offices
You’ve probably often wanted to become Santa and have your own flying sleigh during the holidays, haven’t you? Unfortunately, not all of us can deliver our gifts quickly.
But you can still avoid an overwhelming trip to the post office. Save yourself the annoying lines and heavy traffic by visiting the offices on Friday around noon to beat the crowds. Oh, and be sure to avoid the typical Tuesday 3:00 p.m. rush.
🛍️ Shopping Center
Perhaps the trickiest part of the holidays is getting all the gifts in on time. We assure you that if you visit a local mall or shopping center on Monday around 3 p. m. you’ll be in and out faster than you can say Kris Kringle. But by Saturday at 1 p. m., you’ll probably regret it.
The most popular holiday activities
From Christmas tree farms and Christmas markets to ice skating rinks, here’s a comparison of what the most popular holiday activities look like in each state. Dive into some exciting activity trends and get ready to go!
🍔 Order up!
During Thanksgiving, people frequent McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ for fast food. Meanwhile, according to Maps’s analysis, Tennessee is the only state that does not favor one of these three restaurant chains, opting instead for Cracker Barrel (Old) Country Store.
Regarding the most popular Christmas activities, there are Christmas tree farms and ice skating rinks. Let’s see how they compare:
⛸️ Ice, ice baby
Ice skating rinks took the lead in 33 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Texas and Wyoming.
🎄 Rockin’ around the Christmas tree
On the other hand, Christmas tree farms are popular in 17 states, which are:Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
These are all the details we have for now, and we will surely be getting more help from the Google team later this month. However, we know that the holidays are often a difficult time for any shopper, so we invite you to check out the other tips and tricks Google Maps has for navigating the vacations with ease.