Best, and Worst Times to Travel This Thanksgiving

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I-5 Traffic | I-5 Exit Guide

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this year’s I-5 traffic volumes are historically some of the highest of the year.

As one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, navigating I-5 can be a real pain with heavy traffic and plenty of short tempers. Here are a few tips to help make your Thanksgiving holiday voyage less stressful:

Getting There:

  • The absolute worst time to get on the road is the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday, November 22) and if you leave in mid-afternoon (3:00 p.m.) you definitely won’t be a happy camper once you get there.
  • If you have no choice but to leave on Wednesday, make it as early as possible. Start you trip no later than 6:00 a.m. to avoid traffic delays.
  • The Sunday before Thanksgiving (November 19) is the best day to leave for your Thanksgiving road trip, the earlier, the better.
  • Thanksgiving morning is also a good time to leave, the earlier, the better.

Returning Home:

  • The day after Thanksgiving (Friday, November 24) before 6:00 a.m. is the best day and time to return from your Thanksgiving trip.
  • Saturday and Sunday (November 25 and 26) late afternoon are the worst days and times to return from your Thanksgiving road trip. Avoid being on the road between 11:00 a.m and 6:00 p.m. Traffic will be heavy during those times.
  • If you have no choice but to leave on Saturday, try leaving as early as possible (before 6:00 a.m.) to avoid traffic delays.

Depending on where you’re heading, and how long the trip will be, you might be able to schedule the time when you are on the road to at avoid the worst of it.

Adjust your schedule or route and consider these options:

  • Take a bypass route around large cities.
  • Tune to a radio station and monitor the traffic reports
  • If you have mobile access, Use our I-5 Traffic feature to monitor traffic.
  • Stop at a rest area if headed into heavy traffic and wait until the worst of it has subsided.
  • Avoid shopping districts (Black Friday is usually gridlocked around major shopping areas).

Drive responsibly and have a safe trip!


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One of the most complete road travel resources of its kind on the Internet! The Interstate 5 Exit Information Guide features exit service listings for the entire length of I-5 from Washington to California! Food, gas, lodging, rest areas, attractions and more…