Boston traffic, boston driving, boston travel, boston holiday travel
Are you heading home for the holidays? Millions of Massachusetts residents will be traveling. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving is always one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, and next week will be no different.

 

In fact, it may be more hectic than usual, with a record 28.5 million people expected to fly on U.S. airlines, between Nov. 17 and Nov. 28, according to Airlines for America — a 3 percent increase from last year.

 

The road- and railways are sure to be packed as well, so the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the MBTA are urging people to be as safe as possible as they travel to, from or within Massachusetts.

 

“Our goal is to be very thankful on the Monday after Thanksgiving,” MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack said at a press conference, “because hopefully — unlike last year, when we had six fatalities over the long weekend, we’d love to have a safe holiday where everyone gets where they're going and back home safely.”

 

Pollack urged travelers to be aware of the real-time travel signs along the highways and to check the MassDOT GoTime app or Mass511.com for that information when before you hit the road and can see the signs in-person.

Stressing safety, she also pleaded with travelers to plan ahead, give themselves extra travel time so they’re not in a rush, and to either leave their phone on their dashboard, if using it for navigation purposes, or tucked away, so that they’re not distracted or texting while driving.

To ease holiday travel, MassDOT will close down all roadway construction projects by noon on Wednesday, Nov. 22, Pollack said. The department will be monitoring the traffic on Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning and make adjustments to those construction projects early if needed. 

Wednesday, Nov. 22 is expected to be one of the busiest travel days over the holiday, officials said, as is Sunday, Nov. 26.

But since college kids, families and everyone in between still have to make the holiday trek, when are the best times to actually hit the road?

Google Maps recently released analyzed its data and released some traffic trends for cities across the country that they hope will help commuters stay informed.

For the Boston area, the best time to hit the road to avoid traffic snags is Thanksgiving day itself, at 6 a.m., according to Google’s data, and the worst time to leave is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at 3 p.m.

When it comes to ending your holiday weekend and heading home, the best time to do so without getting stuck in traffic is bright-and-early 6 a.m. on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Google Maps data suggests. The worst day to return is actually right after Thanksgiving, on that Friday, at 3 p.m. — so use that tidbit as an excuse to enjoy a long weekend with the family.

Along with traffic trends, Google also collected other search data around the holiday.

Bostonians also apparently care about a good deal, as the top shopping-related search here on Black Friday is for discount stores, followed by clothing stores, according to Google, and when it comes to food searches, Boston residents are apparently googling for Chinese restaurants the most.

Massachusetts residents ramp up their searches for “orchards” around the holiday, according to Google’s map of the most uniquely popular searches during Thanksgiving by state. Maybe Bay Staters just like to use fresh-picked apples for their holiday pie?