shortest paths and Thanksgiving travel

My annual Thanksgiving post is going to be a short one, mainly since I suspect that many of my readers are already traveling.  This past week, my family decided to visit family in Connecticut and New York City.  We are excited to celebrate with family and to show the kids the NYC skyline, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty.  The biggest challenge is how to find the shortest path from point Richmond, VA to Connecticut, where the shortest path is measured in hours, not miles.  The routes take us past five metro regions: DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, and New York City, with opportunities to be stuck in traffic throughout our trip.

We initially planned to take the train.  Amtrak (train) tickets are usually a bargain, but they were much more expensive for this holiday weekend, so we opted to drive.  Given that we are driving, we have some leeway about when we leave and the routes we take.  The biggest problem is uncertainty: we’ve never driven in this neck of the woods during normal traffic conditions, let alone holiday traffic conditions.  We’ve had some input from friends, family, coworkers, and the news.  For example, AAA predicts a 12% increase in driving this year, with today (Wednesday) being the most traveled day of the VDOT recommends avoiding Interstate 95 and traveling on Wednesday. As for the specifics of the route, we can’t simply rely on GPS, since our GPS (like most GPSs) recommend a single path based on the shortest route in miles, which follows Interstate 95 the entire path in this case.  Based on the feedback we’ve received, I printed out google map directions based on our a priori belief about what the shortest path will be.  An atlas will help us to be flexible and adjust our route in the moment.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Have a great Thanksgiving!


2 responses to “shortest paths and Thanksgiving travel

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