Thanksgiving Holiday Travel: Here Are the Best and Worst Times to Drive in Los Angeles

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Tens of millions of Americans are expected to take to the roads and skies to get to their Thanksgiving destinations this week, including nearly 50 million traveling by car, according to AAA. At an estimated 55.3 million, the total amount of Thanksgiving holiday travelers represents the highest volume since 2005; it is also the second-highest amount since the Auto Club began tracking figures in 2000. About 1.6 million more people are expected to go 50 miles or more from home compared to last Thanksgiving, according to a news release from AAA. The vast majority of those — 49.3 million — will get to their destination by automobile, which is nearly 3% more than 2018. Approximately 4.5 million people will fly, while an additional 1.5 million travelers will go by train, bus or cruise ship.

Traveling by Car: Best and Worst Times

For those hitting the road, Wednesday is expected to be the busiest day of the week, according to AAA’s forecast. On that day, motorists in Los Angeles can expect some of the worst delays in the nation. The heaviest traffic in the region is anticipated between 5 to 7 p.m., with delays of about 3 1/2 times longer than normal. Similar traffic delays are also forecast in Atlanta, New York, Boston, Houston and San Francisco on Wednesday evening. The best time to drive this week in L.A., meanwhile, will be 2 a.m. Wednesday, according to an analysis by Google. But if you can’t leave that early, traffic should subside by 6 a.m. Thursday. Overall, major delays are expected throughout the week, and even drivers not traveling during peak times should give themselves additional time to get to their destinations, experts said. “With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays,” Trevor Reed, a transportation analyst at INRIX, said in an Auto Club news release. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week.”

Traveling by Plane: Busiest Days at LAX

For those taking to the skies this week, the best day to fly this week is Monday, according to AAA. The busiest day days at airports, meanwhile, will be Tuesday and Wednesday. Los Angeles International Airport is expecting another record-breaking number of travelers over the Thanksgiving holiday. Between Nov. 20 and Dec. 3, an estimated 3.21 million people are expected to pass through LAX, according to a news release from Los Angeles World Airports. Officials are urging passengers to give themselves extra time due to long lines and traffic, particularly on peak travel days. “Last year saw long lines and backed up traffic during peak days, and with more people expected and the addition of construction, this year is expected to be no different,” the news release read. LAX anticipates its two busiest days will actually be at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend — Sunday, Dec. 1, and Monday, Dec. 2. Those days will see upwards of 246,000 passengers. The Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving Week will also be busy, with at least 230,000 passengers expected to travel through LAX on each of those days. The best day to fly is Thanksgiving. Not only is LAX expecting the least amount of passengers that day, AAA reports that plane tickets are the cheapest of the busy holiday travel week.

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