Beat the Crowds When You Hit the Road This Thanksgiving
For most of us, traffic is an unfortunate tradeoff for living in beautiful Southern California. On the average day, you can try your best to stay off the roads during rush hour. But what about driving during the holidays? With some preparation and thoughtful timing, you can ease your way out of the City of Angels before the stop-and-go sets in. Whether departing from your bright and airy 1 bed, 1 bath downtown or a sprawling 6 bed, 8 bath in Bel Air, when it comes to leaving home for the holidays, we’re all in this together!
4 Tips to Avoid Holiday Traffic in Los Angeles
In 2016, photos of a gridlocked Los Angeles interstate on Thanksgiving went viral and all of Southern California shared a knowing sigh. While there’s a chance the pandemic may have some residents staying home this year, with the potential for hours-long delays, you can’t take any chances. Here’s how to avoid some of the worst traffic in the country on one of the biggest travel days of the year.
Avoid The Busiest Neighborhoods
Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles is home to three of the nation’s ten most-congested roadways. The 5 freeway between Boyle Heights and Downey, the 101 freeway between North Hollywood and Downtown LA, and the 405’s Sepulveda Pass between Westside and the San Fernando Valley are major traffic traps, especially during high-volume days like Thanksgiving. If possible, you’ll also want to steer clear of Koreatown, Westlake, East Hollywood, and Pico-Union, the four most densely populated neighborhoods in the metro area with high potential for congestion.
Time Your Trip Right
Not everyone can take off a few days early, and most people aren’t eager to travel on Thanksgiving itself. But, by departing a little earlier or a little later, you can miss some of the biggest bottlenecks in Southern California. Google has gathered data and mapped out the best and worst times to travel in your city before, during, and after the holiday. For Los Angeles, the best time to get out of town is 4 AM the day before Thanksgiving. Just 12 hours later, Wednesday at 4 PM, happens to be the worst time to leave. Plug and play with Google’s Thanksgiving trip scheduler and develop your own personalized exit strategy.
Prep for Success
One flat tire or faulty battery could tack hours onto your drive. Before hopping in the car, take some pre-trip precautions. Check your coolant, oil, tire pressure, brakes, and lights, and make any necessary adjustments well ahead of time. Inspect your windshield blades and top off the wiper fluid. Don’t forget to test your battery and replace if needed, and you may as well throw some jumper cables in the trunk. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll also want to gather supplies for a basic emergency kit. Collect blankets, an extra cell phone charger, nonperishable food, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight, and flares or reflective triangles. Odds are you won’t need to break your supplies out, but better safe than sorry!
It may seem obvious but nothing clogs the freeway quite like a holiday accident. California drivers frequently rank among the worst in the nation, so you’ll want to be on the defensive. It’s easy to get excited before a long holiday weekend but be sure to stay focused, particularly in the inevitable stop-and-go traffic. If you’re planning to start your trip in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours, ensure each driver is fully alert before they get behind the wheel. Safely exiting to take a nap is always an option. Afterall, spending the holiday with AAA and the LAPD probably isn’t at the top of your wish list.
Are you staying local at a friend’s 2 bed, 2 bath across town or road-tripping all the way out to Grandma’s beachy 3 bed, 2 bath bungalow? Either way, jump-starting your holiday travel plans right can make or break the celebration. Avoid the city’s busiest stretches, plan the perfect departure time, do a little prep work beforehand, and drive safely for a smooth ride into the holiday weekend.
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