How Google can help you avoid everyone while traveling for the holidays

Nov 12, 2019

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Question: What’s better than turkey, stuffing and apple pie? Answer: Not much.

What’s worse than running into everyone you went to high school with when you return to your hometown for aforementioned turkey, stuffing and apple pie? Also not much.

The good news, though, is there’s a way to avoid those awkward encounters.

Google Maps is great for showing travelers how to reach a destination. But you can also use the Popular Times feature to see when grocery stores, shopping malls, movie theaters and bakeries are busiest. Better yet, you can share your estimated time of arrival with your family members and friends, so they don’t start getting all nervous when you aren’t home to watch the parade yet.

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On Tuesday, Google released its annual Thanksgiving travel insights based on 2018 data, and the findings were pretty interesting. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • If you’re planning on driving before Thanksgiving Day, you’ll want to think twice about being on the road between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. It does clear up by 6 a.m., though.
  • You’ll want to go pick up the pie (or pies, we’re not here to judge) Tuesday at 7 p.m. The worst time to be at the bakery is Wednesday at 2 p.m.
  • The best time to stock up on stuffing, gravy and all the fixings at the grocery store is 9 p.m. on Tuesday. If you don’t want to run into your ex, don’t go to the grocery store on Wednesday at 5 p.m. If you do, well, we can’t help you there.
  • You’ll also want to avoid the liquor store at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Instead, you’ll want to go on Tuesday at 10 p.m.
  • If you need a break from all that family time with a movie, Google recommends hitting the theater Tuesday at 11 a.m. Seven hours later is the most crowded time to go.
  • We know Black Friday is on your mind, and the best time to go shopping is at 7 a.m. You’ll definitely want to avoid the shopping centers at 1 p.m.

These tips will really come in handy when you’re trying to avoid crowds and save you precious time that could be spent with your family.

Oh, and if your family isn’t really into cooking, you can always reserve a table at a restaurant without ever leaving Google Maps. And if you’re in a totally new city for Turkey Day, you should take advantage of the app’s Explore tab. It will show you the best restaurants, sights to see and even events happening nearby. Plus, if you’re exploring on foot, Live View can help you figure out which way to walk so you don’t get lost.

Even guided by data, Thanksgiving travel can be stressful. If it’s all too much, you might want to make like a turkey and fly far away for the holiday. And no matter where you end up this holiday season, keep TPG’s holiday travel tips in mind and things will be easy as (apple) pie. That means leveraging TSA PreCheck and Clear if you’re flying; carrying a credit card that will get you lounge access; and leaving extra time no matter how you get where you’re going.

Featured photo by Mario Gutiérrez/Getty Images.

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