If you want to share that Thanksgiving turkey with your loved ones, traveling during the holidays is an unavoidable nightmare — long lines, rude people, expensive tickets, delayed flights — all for the honor of having your family drive you crazy for a long weekend. So we asked Scott McCartney, author of “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Power Travel” his tips on how to stay sane this holiday season (but no advice on how to handle a pushy mother-in-law — sorry).

How do I get my money’s worth when buying tickets?


Figure out what you think a good price is for the tickets — lots of Web sites show the lowest price available on a route for any date. Being flexible on dates and times improves your odds of getting a great deal. Use tools like FareCompare.com, which has historical data of what fares have been in the past, and Bing Travel, which predicts if the fare will go up or down. If you want to pay $200 but the fare hasn’t been below $400 for six months, adjust your expectations. And when you see your price, grab it. Airlines can change prices seven times a day.

What is the biggest mistake people make when traveling during the holidays?

Choosing peak time flights — you can save lots of money being flexible. If you can travel on Thanksgiving morning instead of Wednesday night, you can often save hundreds of dollars. And watch for last- minute sales. Even when seat capacity is tight, there will still be unsold seats that airlines will offer at deep discounts just before the holidays.