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Google Maps tips and tricks to navigate Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Updated Feb 2nd, 2023 11:20AM EST
Google Maps reviews
Image: Google

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The holidays are approaching fast, which is bad news for traffic. Places get busier, and people travel more than usual. That’s where Google Maps can help. And Google put out a few helpful Google Maps tips and tricks to help you navigate the busy season ahead, including Thanksgiving and Black Friday buying sprees.

As you’ll see below, some of the tips Google offers are Google Maps features that you might already be using. But Google also pulled historical Google Maps data to detect the best holiday travel and shopping times.

Google Maps tricks and tips for the holidays

Google laid out 5 Google Maps tips for “less stress” this holiday season in a blog post.

One of them is using the magnifying glass in Google Maps after you’ve started your navigation to find stops along the way that might have the items you’re looking for. But fiddling with the app while driving is not the best idea.

Google also advises Google Maps users to share their ETA from inside the app with their loved ones. That’s one great way to avoid calls and texts from family and friends and relieve stress.

Furthermore, Google Maps also lets you save money on gas and help reduce your carbon footprint. This feature is available widely, the eco-friendly navigation mode in Google Maps that will give you the most efficient route to your destination, which doesn’t have to be the fastest.

Choosing an eco-friendly route in Google Maps to save on gas.
Choosing an eco-friendly route in Google Maps to save on gas. Image source: Google

Moreover, Google recommends buyers use the Directory tab to navigate indoors when shopping this Black Friday season. That’s assuming your destination supports the feature.

Finally, the busyness information that Google Maps offers will help you avoid crowds while searching for the particular holiday gifts. You can read all about these five Google Maps tricks by checking out Google’s blog at this link.

More interesting is the holiday travel and shopping data that Google extracted from Google Maps. The company explains in a different blog that it pulled together “Google Maps traffic predictions, popular times, and activity trends to get you out the door and on your merry way with ease.”

The best times for Thanksgiving travel

Google analyzed last year’s Thanksgiving traffic patterns across 20 major US cities to determine the best times for travel during the holiday.

  • Best time to travel before Thanksgiving: Monday before 8:00 PM local time. Avoid Tuesday and Wednesday around 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM
  • Thanksgiving travel: hit the road before noon or after 5:00 PM
  • Black Friday shopping: Google Maps sees traffic pick up around noon, peaking at 4:00 PM. You’ll see fewer cars at 7:00 AM, 10:00 AM, and between 7:00-8:00 PM.
  • Return home: Avoid roads at 4:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The best time to leave is 6:00 AM or 8:00 PM.
Black Friday written in neon blue and pink
Black Friday written in neon blue and pink with a reflection underneath it. Image source: IM_VISUALS/Adobe

The best times to travel and shop

Google offered similar Google Maps information for other places you might visit during the holiday and Black Friday season.


  • Busiest: Saturday at noon
  • Least busy: Wednesday at 8:00 PM


  • Busiest: Saturday at 10:00 AM
  • Least busy: Monday at 3:00 PM

Grocery Stores

  • Busiest: Sunday at 1:00 PM
  • Least busy: Tuesday at 9:00 AM

Post Offices

  • Busiest: Tuesday at 3:00 PM
  • Least busy: Friday at noon

Shopping Center

  • Busiest: Saturday at 1:00 PM
  • Least busy: Monday at 3:00 PM

You can check Google’s full blog post about the best times for holiday travel and shopping according to Google Maps data at this link.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.