Thanksgiving Travel Forecast 2022: Best Time To Leave Chicago Area
- Posted by Barrington Hills
- On November 21, 2022
Peak congestion will be seen on Interstate 290, from Morgan Street to Wolf Road, on Wednesday afternoon.
Andrea Earnest,Patch Staff
Nov 18, 2022
If you’re among the estimated 54.6 million Thanksgiving travelers this year, timing your departure from the Chicago area can make the trip less stressful.
The auto club AAA said in its Thanksgiving travel prediction released Tuesday that nearly 49 million Americans will travel by car during the long weekend, which for travel purposes is Wednesday-Sunday, Nov. 23-27. Thanksgiving Day is on Nov. 24.
AAA’s data partner INRIX expects severe congestion in U.S. metro areas — especially around Atlanta, Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles — with some drivers experiencing more than double the amount of time stuck in traffic during peak travel times.
Other busy metros are Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Here are the potential trouble spots in the Chicago area and when they’ll be the busiest:
- Peak congestion will be seen on Interstate 290, from Morgan Street to Wolf Road, on Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. Increase over typical traffic will be 99 percent.
- Wednesday will also bring increased congestion to:
- I-290 west, J29B to J16 (99 percent increase in traffic)
- I-290 east, J17 to J29B (84 percent increase)
- I-94 west, J16 to J160 (59 percent increase)
- I-94 north, J68B to J52B (35 percent increase)
- I-249, J27B to J17B (14 percent increase)
To avoid the most hectic times, travel early in the morning on Wednesday or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Avoid traveling between 4-8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
In general, the best and worst times to be on the road are:
Wednesday, Nov. 23 — worst times, 1 a.m.-8 p.m.; best times, before 8 a.m., after 8 p.m.
Thursday, Nov 24 — worst times, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; best times, before 11 a.m., after 6 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 25 — worst times, 4-8 pm.; best times, before 11 a.m., after 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 26 — worst times, 4-8 pm.; best times, before 2 p.m., after 8 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 27 — worst times, 4-8 p.m.; best times, before 11 a.m., after 8 p.m.
This year is expected to be the third-busiest for Thanksgiving travel, approaching 98 percent of pre-pandemic levels, since AAA began tracking it in 2000.
Although most will travel by car, about 4.5 million Americans plan to fly to their Thanksgiving destinations, an increase of 8 percent — 333,000 more travelers — from last year. Thanksgiving air travel is expected to be within 99 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
It’s a good idea to leave for the airport early. Long lines are likely at TSA checkpoints and, “if possible, avoid checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed, or you need to reschedule,” AAA said.
The number of people who are traveling by bus or train or taking a cruise is up by 23 percent from last year, reaching 96 percent of the 2019 volume.