Thanksgiving 2018 Travel: Google Maps Suggests When You Should Leave, Come Back

google maps thanksgiving travel times
The Kennedy Expressway is clogged with cars as rush-hour commuters and Thanksgiving holiday travelers try to make their way through the city on November 21, 2017, in Chicago. Google Maps released data on the best and worst travel times for the Thanksgiving holiday to help travelers get to where they are going. Scott Olson/Getty Images

It's common knowledge that Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel times of the entire year and to help people get to their destinations easier, Google Maps gave travelers insight into when the best and worst times to get on the move.

The bad news is that Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, is almost guaranteed to be packed no matter when you leave. However, the good news is that some times are better than others. Google's data showed that it's best to stay away from traveling late Wednesday afternoon if you can. Instead, if you're in a major metro area, try to leave early Thanksgiving morning around 6 a.m. local time.

As far as returning home goes, Google found it's best to leave early Saturday morning or early Sunday morning. If you leave anytime besides in the morning on Friday or Sunday, it's possible you could hit a major rush of travelers. Google also offered a breakdown of the best and worst times to leave on a city-by-city basis.

Atlanta

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Sunday, 4:00 p.m. EDT

Boston

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Charlotte

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Friday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Sunday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Chicago

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Cleveland

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Dallas

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. CDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. CDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. CDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. CDT

Denver

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. MDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. MDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. MDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. MDT

Detroit

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Houston

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. CDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. CDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. CDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. CDT

Los Angeles

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. PDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 4:00 p.m. PDT

Miami

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Minneapolis

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. CDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. CDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. CDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. CDT

New York City

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Sunday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Orlando

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Philadelphia

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6am
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3pm
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6am
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 3pm

Phoenix

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. MDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. MDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. MDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 5:00 p.m. MDT

Pittsburgh

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Sunday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Portland

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. PDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 4:00 p.m. PDT

Raleigh

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Sunday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Sacramento

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. PDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 4:00 p.m. PDT

San Francisco

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. PDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 4:00 p.m. PDT

Seattle

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. PDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. PDT
  • Worst day to return: Friday, 4:00 p.m. PDT

St Louis

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. CDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. CDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. CDT
  • Worst day to return: Sunday, 3:00 p.m. CDT

Tampa:

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Sunday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Washington, D.C.:

  • Best day to leave: Thanksgiving day, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to leave: Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Best day to return: Sunday, 6:00 a.m. EDT
  • Worst day to return: Sunday, 3:00 p.m. EDT

Traveling isn't the only chaotic moment of the Thanksgiving holiday and Google analyzed data to determine the best times to pick up some last minute items and head out for some entertainment.

As far as baked goods go, Google pointed out that midday Wednesday could be a bad time to pick up that "oops I forgot to bring the pie" pie because people are getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner. You may want to also do your last minute grocery shopping a bit before last minute because on Wednesday afternoon there tends to be a stampede at supermarkets.

Many Thanksgiving dinners get a bit more lively when alcohol is served and since it largely doesn't require refrigeration you'll definitely want to stock up early as visits peak on Wednesday afternoon.

Additionally, Google found that Black Friday in the afternoon is the busiest time for stores, which is no surprise. You may also want to avoid a movie on Friday evening because Google found after 24 hours of family time, people are ready to get out and head to the theater.

Traveling for the holidays can be a complete nuisance so it's important to remember that traffic will end but memories with your family last a lifetime.