Thanksgiving Travel By the Numbers
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Thanksgiving Travel By the Numbers

People across the country are getting ready to head home—en masse—for Thanksgiving suppers. If your plans for the holiday involve driving, flying, or taking a train, we can guarantee one thing: you're not alone. With the help of some insightful numbers and statistics—and a few editor-approved travel hacks—you may be able to avoid joining the end of an airport security line or traffic jam.

Travel volume for the Thanksgiving holiday hasn’t been this high since 2007, when 50.6 million took to the roads, skies, rails, and (for a handful of travelers) waters. Everyone from AAA to Google has crunched the numbers and examined the historical data, to provide you all the stats and facts you need to hack this holiday traffic. Or, at least, to give you interesting numbers to read while you’re at a standstill on the interstate.

USA, New Hampshire
Walter Bibikow

41,900,000:

The number of travelers packing up their cars and hitting the road this Thanksgiving, according to AAA. This is thanks, in part to low gas prices—down $0.72 per gallon from last year. The average is now $2.26.

36,100,000:

How many people will be pouring into, and out of, airports around the world. AAA predicts that air travel will acccount for 8 percent of Thanksgiving holiday travel this year.

1,720,000:

The number of airplane seats, according to Planestats.com, scheduled to fly on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, believe it or not, isn't the busiest travel day in the U.S. Halloween has already won out as a busier travel holiday, with 2.06 million seats were booked on October 31. And the busiest? The answer may surprise you.

60:

Percent of improvement in traffic between the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Sunday. If you can stand your in-laws for one more day, do it.

40:

dollars saved, per trip, on leaving on Thanksgiving, rather than the Wednesday before—according to Google Flights.

20:

Times the number of "ham shop" direction requests on Google Maps than you'd see on a typical Wednesday. Liquor stores and pie shops were also top Google search trends the day before Thanksgiving in 2014. If you’re running a last minute errand—or pretending to cook—you’re not alone.

10:

Spots that Los Angeles leapt on Google Maps' list of worst cities for Thanksgiving traffic. Last year, this city had the craziest traffic in the country. Meanwhile, Philadelphia, Austin, and Miami's traffic patterns improved.

9 out of 10:

Warm or tropical international destinations that Americans are escaping to over the holiday. Switchfly (a global tech company) found that Brazil, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic topped the international destination list. England was the only cool, gloomy place to pop up on the list.

5:

The number of hours in the busiest traffic window the day before Thanksgiving. Still have to make the trip on Wednesday? Google Maps recommends leaving before 2 p.m., or waiting until after 7 p.m. Roads during the late afternoon and early evening are likely to be a disaster.

1:

the single most sensible solution for people eager to avoid Thanksgiving cooking altogether. The top Google search on Thanksgiving last year was for buffet restaurants.

Bonus:

This year on Twitter, turkey was the most tweeted-about food for the whole month of November. Celebrity chefs tweeted advice about turkey roaster ovens, whether or not to brine a turkey, on cooking turkey for a large group, turkey cooking times, on spatchcocked turkey (whatever that is) and "on using the turkey neck bone." Stuffing, potatoes, and casserole also topped the food tweet charts.

Hitting the road this Thanksgiving? Here are the best (and worst) times for battling traffic:

Thanksgiving Travel Numbers
Mara Sofferin

Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.

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