Traffic Jam in Los Angeles - Thanksgiving Getaway

Traffic Gridlock Tips To Be Prepared

Los Angeles Traffic, Thanksgiving Getaway. I posted this image (and video clip below) a number of years ago. Insane LA traffic just before Thanksgiving. Given that today is the day before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest road travel days of the year, it reminded me of this topic.

When I saw these traffic images of complete gridlock, and whenever I see or experience a nightmarish traffic situation myself, it affects me in a way that’s probably a bit different than others…

Many or most who are stuck in such a traffic jam are most likely very frustrated, annoyed, angry, or pi$$ed off about being there. Crawling along… Late to wherever they’re going next. Instead, here’s what I see…

It’s absolutely amazing to witness the sea of humanity at times. The density. The number of people living and working in such proximity. If you live there, well, it’s ‘normal’. For those who don’t, it can seem quite exceptional. With that many people, it screams ‘systemic risks’. The supporting infrastructure that keeps it all going – literally keeping people alive.

That said, people live where they live, and that’s the way it is. So what can be done to be prepared for traffic gridlock?

Here’s a video from 2016, Thanksgiving getaway traffic from Los Angeles:
source: ABC7 Eyewitness News

Tips For Surviving Traffic Jam Or Traffic Gridlock

1. Keep your gas tank full! I am one of those who rarely lets my tank fall below half. Typically I fill-r-up at 3/4. Although I currently live rural and don’t have to worry about traffic gridlock, I have spent many years of my life living and working in very population-dense regions. I have also been crawling along on the exact same freeway traffic-jam location pictured above. I do feel better knowing that I have the range of travel with a near full tank of fuel. If you’re caught in a serious traffic jam while running on fumes, your situation will get much worse when you run out of gas!

2. Keep food / snacks in your car. Oh my oh my… this has saved me many a time during a previous career. When you’re hungry, you tend to get a bit cranky. And that doesn’t help during a traffic jam! It will certainly help your mood if you’re getting hungry – especially around meal time while stuck in a traffic jam.


3. Keep some bottled water in the vehicle. Again, food and drink. I keep a small cooler on the floor in the back seat with at least several bottles of water. The cooler helps smooth out the high and low temperatures inside a vehicle throughout the day.

4. Know alternate routes of travel. Most of us are stuck in the habit and routine of going a certain way. The same road every day. This is usually the quickest way. However, in a traffic gridlock situation you ‘might’ be better off going another way (‘might’)… Do you know other ways to get where you’re going?

5. Travel sooner. If you live in the region, you should already know when and where the roads typically clog. Plan ahead and travel sooner (or later). You might not always have a choice to do that. But if you do…

6. Learn to enjoy and be entertained by the idiocy that you will observe around you while stuck in traffic. It is amazing to witness the lunacy, selfishness, and stupidity that arises when others get stressed during traffic.

7. Stay calm. Don’t get angry. Though it can be a challenge!

8. Listen to the radio. Maybe it’s music that you like. Or a particular talk show. Podcast maybe. It will help pass the time. During my years of commuting every day, I would look forward to listening to my favorite talk show host during my way home.

9. Prepare to be stuck in gridlock for hours. If there’s a traffic accident and there’s a fatality involved, you are likely to be stuck in traffic gridlock for hours for ‘the investigation’. I’ve been in this situation more than once. It requires a great deal of patience. During long road trips, I take my CB radio. It has saved my bacon more than once! Hearing about an extreme traffic situation miles ahead of time has enabled me to get off the freeway and find another route – saving HOURS of time.

My CB Radio

I need a #10… Care to share your traffic gridlock /traffic jam scenarios and recommendations?

[ Read: Could You Escape From LA? ]


  1. Im going to add a pair of swim trunks, extra clothes and a beach towel to my kit in my bag, i sit in traffic every afternoon, know it gets completely plugged once in a while, from moving slow to not moving, can usually get turned around and get out of it, not past it but go back, back is toward a couple really nice beaches, so WTH, go for a swim and watch the sun go down, the crowd will dissipate eventually.

    Food, drinks, keep phone charged, fuel above half, and be patient, thats the hard one sometimes

  2. Flew into Chicago. Rental car, hotel, all settled in. Decided to drive out to where I needed to be in the morning. Easy peazy, just jump on the interstate, very close by. The next morning it was total gridlock. Needless to say, I found another route on surface streets. What looks good at one point, day/time, may be a zoo at another time. Chances I’ll visit Chicago again, near zero.

  3. When driving in a car or truck, I would pull over at a place to eat and have a sit-down meal, use the restroom and wash my hands and face. Sitting in a car for hours driving at 25 MPH, I need a break once in a while to get up and walk around. When living in the mess, I used to ride my bicycle using the expressways in the San Fran Bay Area. I have a Specialized Rockhopper with full sized panniers on the back of the bike. Back then, I met my wife by looking for a carpool partner that knew the area while I was in RN school. She drove us to clinical sites all over the South Bay. From city to city driving, I drove or I carpooled. Within the city I was living in, I used the bicycle quite a bit. These days, I bring an empty fruit juice jar to pee into.

    1. And remember, if you find a bottle of juice along the side of the road, THAT’S NOT APPLE JUICE!!!

      1. My wife makes fun of my 5 gal bucket with a kitchen trash bag and two inches of kitty litter. Carry it in my truck.

        Guys can pee in a jar but gals can’t. She’ll thank me one day. 😉

  4. If you need to worry about gridlock, you are living in the wrong place. Move.

  5. That video is insane. The older I get, the less I like traffic at all. But I have always driven a large vehicle (pickup truck) so I can see quite a few car lengths ahead of me. And they can see me. I was a FF/medic in my youth and saw enough of people injured in small vehicles. No thanks. But here is what we do now; we celebrate our holidays on ‘off-days.’ Ex: We are having Thanksgiving dinner this year on Saturday, not tomorrow. That is due to son’s FF schedule this week. Not sure yet what day we will be doing Christmas this year either, tho we always keep the actual 25th day to be celebrated as Christ’s birth. Kinda nice…….

    And may I wish everyone here at MSB (even the lurkers) a wonderful, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving.

  6. Most states and provinces have road info using the 511 numbering ie state and province name followed by 511 on your cell phone or computer should get you to the best place for pretty good road speed, road conditions and closures, construction and weather. Some jurisdictions also allow Waze reports from folks who may be stuck in traffic or in an accident providing more info. You can also usually check road cameras to see if you believe the travel info or check for fog, snow or rain. My car GPS gives me travel info but state or province 511 on my cell Home Screen gets me more info.
    This way I can check to see if secondary roads are a better choice before I leave or during the drive, when stopped or having a passenger check. I can also see, as in Ken’s picture if I am truly screw** and leave later!
    Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving to all my southern neighbours! We get ours in early October, better weather then lol!

  7. Be very circumspect on your alternate routes. If you exit the interstate, have a map. You DO NOT want to blunder into a part of town where your skin color and/or ethnic composition does not match those of the local inhabitants. Having worked in SoCal as a Peace Officer for over 30 years, I can attest to the “gridlock victims” who ended up in Inglewatts, South Central, or the East LA Barrios. These white folks and their nice cars/SUV’s did not fare well at all.

    1. That looks miserable
      Worst I have ever been stuck in was I90/94 in WI accident that took nearly 1/2 hour to get by with rubberneckers slowing it further.
      Like the plague, total avoidance if possible.

  8. Hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving. I am very thankful for minimal traffic in my semi-rural area.

  9. Absolutely the very worst place to be WTSHTF !
    Don’t be that person.

  10. If you get sidetracked, realize your in unfamiliar country so you stop to look around and hear banjos..
    The scenery looks like the backwater wilderness you remember from the movie Deliverance?
    Drive until you can’t.

  11. Happy Thanksgiving everyone….
    Well I have to admit I ran into some “Grid Lock” today, was horrible for sure.
    I got extremely aggravated and almost lost “it”.

    The Details:
    Heading down the 1/2 mile Driveway heading out of the Homestead I had to hit the breaks rather hard to avoid 5 Deer that decided to just cut right in-front of me…… Gerrrrrrrrr (Thinking Freezer Meat coming shortly)
    Soooooo, made it past that “almost catastrophic” than another 200 feet from that near miss and possible disaster. I had to AGAIN be inconvenienced by a group of protesting Rabbits that decided to do their morning Sun Bathing right dab in the middle of the drive, I mean RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE ……. Really Guys, What The Heck?????? Actually had to get out of the truck and shoo them away…..

    Country Life is Soooo dang difficult at times. Need another Valium I guess HAHAHAHAH

    Life is good here on Lighting Point
    Blue says “Hi’y All”

    1. NRP & Blue,
      Hey Ol Son, have great Thanksgiving, and remember to “avoid those crowds “, that means out in the boonies too.

  12. I drove in the LA traffic every other week for 2 years. It’s either bumper to bumper traffic jam or bumper to bumper going 80 miles an hour. I remember one time I pick up the rental car after flying in to LAX. They gave me a black SS Camaro. After falling in to it I proceeded to the freeway for the 1 hour drive to Ventura. First thing I notice was everyone getting out of my way and giving me lots of room. I thought that’s strange was there something wrong with the car. Then it dawn on me, California was using black SS Camaros and unmarked police cars. It was great driving around that week with everyone avoiding me.

  13. Even in the middle of no where, where we live it is getting more crowded. Just yesterday 4 cars went down our road in and hour. We might have to move!
    Happy Thanksgiving

  14. A good map is a must. I got caught in traffic that was at a dead stop for hours during a hurricane evacuation. (Hurricane Rita) I had a roads of Texas map in my suburban that showed all the logging roads, fire breaks, etc. At the first chance to jump on one of these we left the highway. A trip that would have normally taken 5 hours took twelve but when we talked to others, it took them 36-48 hours staying on paved roads. I NEVER travel out of town without a paper (non-electronic) road atlas that includes backroads, forest service roads etc.

  15. – Ken, I agree with Texprep above. Your number ten item is a good, PAPER map of your area, or better yet, your state and maybe the couple of states nearby. I have done that responding to things like Hurricanes, riots, wild and not so wildfires, and other unpleasantness. Road Atlases are among the best for folks in vehicles.

    – Papa S.

    1. – Any more, I suppose that the ability to read and understand that map is not a given. So be sure to learn how to use the thing! (BTW, Glad to see you’re still kicking, NRP)


Comments are closed.