Use This Online Google Tool to Avoid Thanksgiving Traffic Jams

iStock/Marcin Kilarski
iStock/Marcin Kilarski

If you don't spend most of Thanksgiving Day cooking, you'll likely spend it driving. More than 54 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles away from their homes some time this week, according to AAA. This year, Google has teamed up with Polygraph to develop some tools to make the journey a little easier for the majority of holiday travelers getting to their destinations by car, Fast Company reports.

Using speed and location data from anonymous Android users, Google Maps and Google News Lab have determined the best times to hit the road on the way to and from Thanksgiving dinner. To anticipate traffic jams in your region, look at the Avoiding Traffic section and select one of the 25 cities from the drop-down menu. If you're from Los Angeles, you'll hit the most congestion on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. on your way out of town, and on Friday at 4:00 p.m when you're driving home. Motorists from Pittsburgh should wait to leave until 5:00 a.m. the morning of Thanksgiving and 4:00 a.m. the morning after to skirt traffic. The tool also includes visualizations of how traffic levels in your city fluctuate throughout Thanksgiving and the surrounding days.

Google's "Mapping Thanksgiving" project features other tools that you can use to plan your holiday. One visualization shows when crowds at popular spots will peak (avoid the bakery at noon on Wednesday and the movie theater Black Friday night). You can also see what people are searching for in your state during Thanksgiving to get some inspiration for what to do after dinner (brewery, electronics store, and coffee shop are some common searches).

Still feeling stressed about driving during one of the busiest travel days of the year? Check out our tips for a stress-free trip.

[h/t Fast Company]

Texas’s Magnolia Hotel—a Reputed Paranormal Hotspot—Will Be Opening Its Doors to Overnight Guests

iStock/THEPALMER
iStock/THEPALMER

Those who view The Shining’s Overlook Hotel as a desirable vacation spot now have the chance to make their spooky dreams come true. The Magnolia Hotel—supposedly haunted by a total of 13 ghosts—will soon open its doors to overnight visitors.

Located in Seguin, Texas, the hotel’s history can be traced back to 1840, when Texas Ranger James Campbell first constructed a log cabin on the property. The cabin later expanded into a hotel, which saw some success in the mid-1800s and early 1900s. Unfortunately, the hotel was then abandoned for many years, and was almost lost to extreme disrepair. In an effort to save it, members of Preserve Texas placed the building on the organization's Most Endangered Historic Places list along with several other sites. It eventually captured the attention of current owners Jim Ghedi and Erin Wallace Ghedi, who bought the Magnolia Hotel in March 2013.

It didn’t take long for the Ghendis to realize something strange was going on. According to Country Living, the couple began experiencing supernatural events as soon as repairs commenced. Photos showed strange figures climbing out of mirrors; doors would be heard slamming by unknown forces; and shadowy outlines could be glimpsed hovering in doorways.

It’s no surprise the Magnolia Hotel is haunted given its gruesome history. Not too long after he built the original log cabin, James Campbell was reportedly killed by Native Americans during a trip to San Antonio. Three decades later, notorious Texan serial killer Wilhelm "William" Faust traveled to the nearby town of New Braunfels in order to kill his wife. He instead mistakenly butchered Emma Voeckler—the 12-year-old girl who was unfortunately sharing a room with his wife at the time—and fled to the Magnolia Hotel before his arrest. Some claim one of the ghosts is poor Emma, eternally bound to the area where her killer hid directly after her death.

The hotel’s website states that overnight reservations will open on August 12 on a first-come, first-served basis. Accommodations include fully restored suites consisting of two bedrooms, a full bath with a walk-in shower, and a non-cooking kitchen. Guests and non-guests alike can also partake in the hotel’s guided ghost tours, which the site warns are “not for the faint of heart.”

This Adjustable Bag Mate Makes Traveling Anywhere Much More Convenient

NEX
NEX

Carrying a backpack for a long period of time can lead to aching in your neck, back, or shoulders. Plus, keeping essentials in your bag, like a passport or phone, can make them a hassle to retrieve when necessary. NEX, now raising money on Kickstarter, is a three-in-one bag mate that makes traveling with a backpack pain-free and convenient.

This new "bag mate" is designed with air cushions that evenly distribute the weight of your backpack across your shoulders. Since it makes your bag feel 30 percent lighter, it also helps improve your posture.

NEX features functional and hidden pockets to not only make it easier to grab your essentials when on the go, but also keep them secured—since they are much safer on your shoulders than in your bag where people can easily steal them. Each strap is designed with three inner pockets as well as a hidden pocket to store everyday valuables such as your keys or cash.

Cash and keys going in a pocket on a NEX bag mate
NEX

Sometimes a backpack isn't necessary for quick outings, so NEX can act as a cross-body bag as well. Easily clip it on and adjust the fit to your liking, and now NEX can be used when you're simply going out for a run or grabbing groceries. Plus, it's designed with recycled waterproof material, meaning you don't have to worry about your valuables getting damaged due to the weather.

guy walking with blue cross body bag
NEX

With over a week left in its campaign, NEX has already surpassed its goal of $1000, raising over $47,000 as of June 25. By pledging $19 or more, you can get your own bag mate on KickStarter. Shipping is scheduled for August.

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