Travelers wait in-line for entering security check at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport November 23, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. AAA has predicted that it will be more crowded than usual to travel this Thanksgiving with nearly 49 million Americans driving or flying to their destinations
Alex Wong—Getty Images
By Jennifer Calfas
November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving is notorious for being one of the busiest times of the year to travel.

And this year may be the worst Americans have seen in more than a decade.

Nearly 51 million people will travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend — the highest travel volume since 2005, and a 3.3% increase from last year, according to data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) and INRIX, a global transportation analytics firm. Those traveling this year represent 15% of the country’s population.

Eighty-nine percent of travelers will journey by car. AAA found car rentals average around $70 per day — 34% higher than last year. Those flying to their destination, however, may have booked a cheaper Thanksgiving trip than usual. According to AAA, the average cost for round-trip flights was the lowest in five years.

Regardless, travelers heading to the airport by car or to their final destination on the road will endure a stunning amount of traffic. According to AAA’s estimation of traffic conditions in the 10 most congested cities in the United States, here’s exactly what days and times you should avoid, as well as how much longer it will take you if you have no other option:

  • Chicago – Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. (3x longer)
  • San Francisco – Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. (2.5x longer)
  • Los Angeles – Tuesday from 3:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. (2.5x longer)
  • Boston – Tuesday from 5:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. (2.5x longer)
  • New York – Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (2x longer)
  • Washington, D.C. – Tuesday from 4:45 to 6 p.m. (2x longer)
  • Seattle – Tuesday from 3:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (2x longer)
  • Atlanta – Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 5:15 p.m (2x longer)
  • Houston – Wednesday from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. (1x longer)
  • Detroit – Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (1x longer)

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