The best times for holiday travel and avoiding crowds, according to Google

Google reveals the best time to shop and travel this holiday season.
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The older I get, the more I relate to the Grinch. Between the crowds, traffic, and expensive plane tickets, the holidays can be more stressful than fun. Luckily, Google has released some holiday travel, shopping, and celebration predictions based on Google Maps traffic so you can plan ahead.


  • Head out early: If you’re driving for Thanksgiving, try leaving Monday at 8 pm and avoid driving in the evening on the Tuesday and Wednesday before.

  • Avoid traffic: Avoid the roads between 3 and 5 pm on Thanksgiving Day, that’s when roads are most congested.

  • Try a new drive-thru: The most popular chain restaurants on Thanksgiving are McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Dunkin’. Beat the rush and try out a new chain for a quick bite.

Avoid the holiday crowds

  • Airports: If you’re flying, know that Saturdays at noon are when airports are at their busiest. Build in some extra time for the TSA line and traffic.

  • Shopping: If you’re missing that one ingredient, try grocery shopping at 9 am on a Tuesday and avoid going at 1 pm on a Sunday. If you’re hitting the mall, Monday at 3 pm is your best bet.

  • Ship it on a Friday: Post offices are expected to have a 3 pm Tuesday rush, so try sending your package at noon on a Friday.

  • Holiday festivities: This year, ice skating is the most popular holiday activity in 33 states, based on Google Maps directions requests. Going to Christmas tree farms was the most popular in 17 states. We suggest going early so you have plenty of space to glide and first dibs on the best tree.

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