New Google Maps Features Make Holiday Travel Easier

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Woman traveling and looking at her phone
BearFotos /

If you are heading to someone’s house for the holidays, some new Google Maps features might make your trip more pleasant.

Google has announced two updates to the app that will roll out on both Android and iOS in coming weeks, and one that is rolling out now. The company also shared some holiday travel tips gleaned from Google Maps activity.

First, Google says it is updating Maps’ transit directions. So, you will be able to find the best route based on factors such as your estimated time of arrival, the number of transfers or the trip length.

You will also be able to customize your route options with filters, such as by selecting a specific type of transit or finding a route that requires less walking.

Second, Maps will have a new emoji feature, so that when you are trying to make plans with friends, everyone will be able to suggest places to gather and vote with an emoji, such as a heart or a thumbs-down.

The third new feature, which rolled out worldwide on Nov. 15, is emoji reactions. So, you can now respond to photos, videos or reviews from the Google Maps community with an emoji.

In addition, Google looked at last year’s Thanksgiving travel patterns in more than 20 major U.S. cities and came up with the following travel tips based on that data:

  • The best time to drive prior to Thanksgiving is the preceding Monday or Tuesday beginning at 8 p.m. The worst time to be on the road is likely around 4 or 5 p.m. on the preceding Tuesday or Wednesday.
  • If you wait until Thanksgiving Day to travel, the best times to leave are before noon and after 4 p.m.
  • Once the holiday is over and you are heading home after the long weekend, try to avoid traveling between 3 and 4 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday. Instead, leave around 7 or 8 p.m.

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