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Thanksgiving traffic worst in LA: 6 tips for hassle-free travel




LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  Traffic comes to a stand still on the northbound and the southbound lanes of the Interstate 405 freeway near Los Angeles International Aiprort  on November 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Orbitz named LAX as the nation's busiest airport for 2011 Thanksgiving travel.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 23: Traffic comes to a stand still on the northbound and the southbound lanes of the Interstate 405 freeway near Los Angeles International Aiprort on November 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Orbitz named LAX as the nation's busiest airport for 2011 Thanksgiving travel. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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While you might have a lot to be thankful for this holiday weekend, save the biggest pats on the back for yourself if you didn't have to drive around.

Out of anywhere in the whole country to celebrate Thanksgiving, Los Angeles will be the worst place to be for traffic according to the research firm INRIX. L.A. trips are predicted to take at least 36 percent longer than usual in the metro area.

Marie Montgomery from AAA of Southern California joined Take Two with some advice on how you can detour around the snarls so you can get to (or away from) your family.

1. When to hit the road (and when not to)

Wednesday afternoon is probably about the worst possible time, and that’s true for every Thanksgiving, says Montgomery. Coming into town on Sunday afternoon is also a bad time. "If you can avoid that at all, that would be the best plan," Montgomery advises. 

For those thinking of leaving at 1 a.m. or so, Montgomery reminds people to get at least five hours of sleep beforehand, since drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. 

2. Routes to avoid

Always the I-5, says Montgomery. The 405 will also be impacted by airport traffic. 

3. Plan ahead

"Pretty much every major route is going to be rough," says Montgomery. "Luckily, these days we have lots of smartphone apps and things we can use to look at real-time traffic and figure out alternative routes if we can. So we always advise trying to do that before you leave the house and then have a navigator in your car with you if you need to change plans."

4. Are you going to a popular place?  

The top Thanksgiving destination this year for Southern Californians is Las Vegas. "It's not unheard of on a holiday weekend to take eight hours to get to Vegas when it's normally four hours," says Montgomery. 

So if you're going to one of these places (Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Grand Canyon, Santa Barbara and Central Coast) you do want to plan ahead and leave at a time that’s not so busy. 

5. Black Friday traffic alert

A study also shows that the Del Amo Mall, which used to be the largest mall in the U.S., will have the second biggest delay in the country as far as traffic time getting to it.

"And that's not unexpected," says Montgomery. "That's very, very popular and a very dense population there." 

6. Why the traffic is a good thing

Montgomery says:

The good news in all of this is it's a sign of an improving economy. There's a projected 4 percent more Southern Californians traveling this year because they feel better about their finances. We've got lower gas prices, which is great. As Angelenos we always have to be aware of traffic and I think most people are aware that it's probably not a great idea to leave Wednesday afternoon but sometimes you have no choice.

Are you traveling by car this Thanksgiving weekend? Share your tips and secrets for avoiding traffic headaches in the comments below.