NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If you're just planning your holiday travel now, we're guessing you're using a few choice words that aren't "holly" or "jolly" to describe the experience.Just a few days until Thanksgiving and a month and a half removed from Christmas, we feel pretty confident in saying that if you're just starting to price out holiday shopping, you're not finding deals. None. Anywhere. You say United just offered a winter fare sale? Yeah, but the holidays are blacked out. You're just waiting for that great, last-minute Thanksgiving deal? In the words of FareCompare Chief Executive Rick Seaney, "You waited too long."
You have only a few options available now, and they all fall somewhere on the scale between "bad" and "worse." Even airfare alerts won't help you this close to the holidays. We can't point you toward deals or even suggest discounts. With the help of the folks at FareCompare and SmarterTravel ( TRIP), though, we can provide a handful of tips that will deaden the pain a bit and get you through your holiday travel without going into hock: Take the hit on Thanksgiving
We're not the ones who have to break your family's heart because you were too lazy or stingy to get tickets earlier. Seaney recommends buying tickets as soon as possible, as prices only go up with each passing day. If you have frequent-flier miles to use, now is the time. There are going to be last-minute redemption fees, but would your rather pay full price? Also, consider flying Thanksgiving Day. You'll miss the parade unless you're on a flight with DirecTV ( DTV), but not getting to mock Matt Lauer is the price you pay for your sloth. Meanwhile, you'll be flying on one of the least popular days on the airline calendar and make it home in time for turkey and stuffing.