If the words "November business trip" strike fear in your heart, you're not alone. According to the Department of Transportation, the two weeks before and after Thanksgiving are the busiest travel times of the year. And the stretch between Turkey Day and Christmas isn't much better.
Corporate travel consultant Robert Anderson advises avoiding travel during the holidays. In fact, many veteran business travelers flat-out refuse to board an airplane the week of Thanksgiving unless it's a life-or-death emergency.
If you must travel, plan ahead. Fly or drive during off-hours, taking a red-eye or an alternate route that lets you avoid big cities. "That way," says Anderson, "you stand a better chance of having a sane [trip]." Charles Leocha, author of the book Travel Rights (World Leisure Corp.), warns that you're more likely to get bumped from a flight during the holidays because carriers tend to overbook. "If you can get a boarding pass, then do it," he says. Also, don't take ticketless travel for granted; bringing a printout of your itinerary with you could make a big difference.
Finally, arrive at the airport early. Road warriors accustomed to cutting it close to their departure times should know that in late fall, carriers are more likely to close the gate exactly 10 minutes before departure, in accordance with their regulations. Says Leocha, "Airlines don't enforce the 10-minute rule as rigorously the rest of the year."