With Thanksgiving only two days away, many Americans are bracing themselves. They know that, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, or maybe — God forbid! — on Thanksgiving itself, they will hop into a car and try to drive to Grandma’s house through the gnarliest, most soul-crushing gridlock imaginable.
The venerable American Automobile Association is predicting that this will be the worst Thanksgiving travel week ever — which is really saying something. The AAA forecasts that 54.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this Thanksgiving, which is almost five percent higher than last year. And if you’re one of those lucky travelers who lives in a select American city, the AAA is even offering guidance on which route at which time will encounter the heaviest traffic and the longest delays. According to the AAA, for example, if you leave San Francisco between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday and take I-680 north, you can expect 4 times the normal travel time between exits 8 and 21. In most cities, the worst delays are expected to occur today, between 5:30 and 7 p.m.
Over the years Kish and I have occasionally traveled around the Thanksgiving holidays, and we’ve always deeply regretted it. The worst incident occurred when we tried to drive from Columbus to Vermilion one Thanksgiving Day and got stuck in a massive traffic jam on I-71, which was like a parking lot. It took hours to inch along, and when we finally arrived nobody had the placid, Pilgrim-like calm you hope to achieve on Thanksgiving. If I recall correctly, the pre-meal backyard football game that year was a tad more aggressive than usual.
This year, I’m extremely thankful that I’m not driving anywhere outside of Columbus. For those of you who will be on the road — well, good luck.