How to use Google Maps to decide when to leave for Thanksgiving

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Google Maps is launching new features and issuing tips on when to travel during the holiday season to cut down on stress and travel time, according to blog posts from Wednesday morning.

The travel advice is based on data from last year’s Thanksgiving season, so in addition to the real-time trip estimates that Google Maps gives, this provides you with a better idea on when to plan to be on the road.

The new updates will start to roll out in the next few weeks, according to the company’s blog post.

More than 1 billion people use Google Maps every month and Google has made concerted efforts to continually update the service to make travel easier. These holiday tools are Google Maps’ second batch of updates in the last month. In late October, the company announced some new and refined features, such as Immersive View, which allows you to travel through a city virtually.

Thanksgiving travel

Thanksgiving travelers should avoid the roads between 4 and 5 p.m. on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the big day, and instead try to do their driving Monday or Tuesday after 8 p.m. (all local time) according to Google Maps data. If you are planning to drive on Thanksgiving, your best bet is to travel before noon or after 4 p.m.

Shoppers should know that the least busy time to travel for their Black Friday shopping is before noon or after 7 p.m. The worst stretch of the day is between 3 and 4 p.m.

When you are heading home over the weekend, the optimal time to leave is around 7 or 8 p.m. local time. while the worst is between 3 and 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

Google Maps offers some more advice in this blog post for the best times to make bakery and grocery store runs for the whole holiday season, as well as how to avoid rush hour at the post office.

Emoji usage and more transit info

One of the new features is designed to stop you from having to worry about planning where to meet up with a group of friends and family. You can share a place with friends, and then people within the group can leave an emoji, like a heart or a thumbs down, to voice their opinion. This is a subsection of the existing list feature that allows you to save locations.

The new tool is being rolled out for iOS and Android over the next few weeks.

Google Maps is also allowing for more discourse within their content review. People can react to a photo, video or a review with an emoji, and others can see their reaction. Google Maps says it’s an effort to help its users “make a more informed decision,” and that rollout begins now.

Google Maps allows users to react with an emoji.


Google Maps is also allowing users to get more granular with their transit route experience. You can list criteria, such as length of travel, walking distance and the number of stops, and Google Maps will tell you the best route. This feature debuts in the coming weeks to both iOS and Android.

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