According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) 55.4 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving this year. That’s a 2.3% increase over last year, and the third highest since 2000.
Using input from fellow I-10 travelers, state transportation data and our own established traffic trends, we’ve put together this helpful guide to make your trip safer and a little less painful.
Timing is Everything
First and foremost, let’s talk about timing. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, particularly from late morning (around 11:00 am) until the evening (around 9:00 pm), is notoriously the worst time to travel. If you can avoid hitting the road during this period, it’s highly recommended, especially if you want to steer clear of urban congestion in places like the Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston or Jacksonville Metro area. In contrast, early Thanksgiving morning is a far more peaceful time to head out on your journey.
When it comes to the return trip after Thanksgiving, you’ll generally find I-10 to be congestion-free on the Friday following the holiday, with one significant exception. The day after Thanksgiving is infamous for being one of the busiest shopping days of the year, which can turn I-10 exits near major shopping districts into major traffic bottlenecks. It’s wise to plan your route to avoid these areas, if possible.
The majority of travelers making their way back home tend to hit the road from early Sunday afternoon to late evening.
Here are some key considerations to keep in mind as you plan your Thanksgiving holiday trip on I-10:
1. Construction Suspensions
Most state departments of transportation require contractors to suspend construction activities during major holiday periods, including Thanksgiving. This means that from Wednesday through Sunday night, you can expect fewer construction-related delays on the road.
2. Fuel Up
Before you leave, make sure to gas up your vehicle. Holiday travel often leads to crowded Welcome Centers and Rest Areas as a higher volume of travelers utilize their facilities. Get the latest gas prices along the way here.
3. Drive Defensively
With holiday traffic comes an increase in inattentive drivers, sudden lane changes, road rage, and a higher number of accidents. Stay alert and drive cautiously.
4. Consider Alternative Routes:
If you decide to veer off I-10 and take an alternate route, be prepared for potentially heavy traffic, signalized intersections, busy shopping areas, slower posted speed limits, and fewer opportunities to pass.
5. Check the Weather:
Regardless of whether you’re heading out or returning, always check the weather forecast and current traffic conditions to ensure a smooth journey.
The I-10 Exit Guide serves as the most extensive and valuable road travel resource on the internet for Interstate 10, spanning from Florida to California. It offers a wealth of information, including exit services, road construction updates, travel weather, and more.
As you embark on your Thanksgiving holiday adventure along I-10, we hope this guide helps you make the most of your journey while avoiding the stress and inconvenience that can accompany holiday travel. Safe travels, and may your Thanksgiving be filled with joy and memorable moments on the road!
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