The words “holiday travel” can strike fear into even the most seasoned traveler.
But while experts say most people will likely take a trip this holiday season, some days are better for travel than others.
Here are the best and worst days for holiday travel in the U.S.
Best days to travel for Christmas
A total 26.5 million people are expected to fly during Christmas season nationwide, according to a report by travel booking site Hopper.
But if you’re willing to travel on Christmas Day, it might not be a bad idea: It’s expected to see the fewest travelers of the season with 2.6 million people hopping flights. Christmas Eve isn’t far behind with 2.7 million people taking to the skies with ol’ Saint Nick, Hopper says.
Those days also show the fewest delays or cancellations. A study by Elite Fixtures released in 2017 found that over five years, holiday flights were least likely to be delayed or canceled on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well as on Dec. 18, 19 and 31.
For the cheapest flights, travel planning site Hipmunk recommends departing Christmas Day and returning the day after. Hipmunk says it could save travelers $300.
Worst days to travel for Christmas
The rest of the Christmas season doesn’t fare quite as well.
The four days before Christmas Eve and after Christmas are expected to see between 3.1 million and 3.2 million travelers daily, according to Hopper. So if crowds zap your holiday cheer, it might be best to avoid those days.
Historically, December 23 and 27 are worst for delays, Elite Fixtures reported, with 34 percent of flights taking off late. December 26 and 27 see the most flights canceled: 2.3 percent.
Best days to travel for Thanksgiving
If you have the vacation days, Smarter Travel says the best day for Turkey Day travel is the Monday before as crowds are smaller and airfare is cheaper compared to later in the week.
Thanksgiving day, itself, also sees cheaper fares and fewer fliers, according to Smarter Travel, adding that a morning flight can still get you to the table in time to snarf down turkey and argue with your uncle at dinner.
Worst days to travel for Thanksgiving
The guys in the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” had it right — traveling the two days before Thanksgiving can lead to snafu on snafu with Wednesday being one of the busiest travel days of the year, according to Skyscanner.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving can also be packed with fliers, according to Smarter Traveler, and returning on Sunday can increase airfare prices by 32 percent, Hipmunk reported.