How to Survive Holiday Travel Nightmares

"Nightline" dispatches correspondents, producers across the country into the Thanksgiving travel mayhem.
6:58 | 11/27/14

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Transcript for How to Survive Holiday Travel Nightmares
Tonight is the dreaded night when everyone's out in a mad holiday dash and the worst may be yet to come. But the busiest travel days don't have to ruin your holiday cheer. We sent reporters in various states of misery to various states around the country to test drive the best ways to game the system this season. Here's ABC's David Wright. We have winter storm warning in effect. All this moisture down to our south. It is going to get worse here. Reporter: The busiest travel season in seven years got off to a menacing start today. Winter storm is barrelling up the east coast and it's already impacting the airlines. Newark is actually experiencing the most problems. Delays of 3:15. They canceled 60 flights. Reporter: On the eve of Thanksgiving, a huge storm looming over the eastern seaboard. With black Friday just around the corner, you might call this white Wednesday. Snow, sleet and frigid rain threatening to make this a cold day in hell for an estimated 46 million travelers. Expected to make that suddenly treacherous journey home. So, just how bad was it? Aside from massive delays and cancellations and lots of traffic jams, it could have been worse. In fact, it might be worse on Sunday. That's actually the busiest travel day of the year. Today was just the appetizer. A perfect excuse to create our very own "Nightline" holiday travel survival guide. Dear god, please let this car start. Reporter: Enlisting our own staff. I arrived in lax. Reporter: And field testers. How does this work? Do you cruise around until you find something? I spent the day with a tow truck driver in New Jersey, rescuing stranded travelers in the midst of this Thanksgiving nor'easter. The storm couldn't have happened on a worse day. It's disrupting traffic all the way from Baltimore up to Boston. And this year, a lot more people are using their cars because the gas prices are so low. Our mission, to take stock of the misery and impart road-tested wisdom in how to manage the madness. The flight situation. Simple. There's no way on Earth we're going to get out of here tonight. Reporter: Our very own onliage to "Plains, trains and automobiles." What? You're going the wrong way! Hey, do you want to wear your jacket? Reporter: Our story begins with a busy mother of two. "Nightline" producer Clare Peterson. Be in a car for many hours. Reporter: Travel tip number one, get started early. Run! Run! Reporter: Near lie 90% of Americans are driving this year. That's up 4% from last year. Claire's one of them. Bye, "Nightline" jx. It's been a great year. You have very affordable gas these days. More people are driving. Reporter: With the price at the pump averaging $2.80, driving's cheap. If you can just open the gas for me. Reporter: But you have to remember to fill up. In New Jersey, this woman forgot. At least you're able to get home now. Yes. Reporter: You don't want to run out of gas in the snow. No. Reporter: Tow truck driver bill to the rescue. Which leads us to travel tip number two. Be prepared, just like the boy scouts say. If you're on the road, fill up, check the spare tire and be sure to pack a roadside emergency kit. And if you are flying, being prepared just got a little easier, thanks to technology. Download the apps for your carrier and they'll be pushing you great information throughout the day about your flight and about operation. "Nightline" producer Mike downloaded this app before flying the friend skies and was able to track his flight even before he'd arrived at the airport. Right now it's 12:15, three hours before our scheduled departure and I just got a text message from united that our flight's delayed and won't talk off until at least 7:00 P.M. Because of the weather. Reporter: Across the country, in sunny southern California, ABC's nick watt may need three hours to get to the airport. Obviously, the weather's not the problem here. Traffic is. Welcome to the infamous 405 freeway. Normally takes me 25 minutes to get to lax from my house. Been on the road 35 minutes already and I have another -- six or seven miles of this to go. Reporter: Driving to lax, you're likely to encounter the worst traffic in the country today, according to one new study. Turn the radio off. I can't take it anymore. Reporter: Back in Newark, Mike continues to luck out. Having arrived three hours early, he doesn't even have to kill time at the bar. The united customer service agent was able to book me on an earlier flight to Cleveland, Ohio. Reporter: In L.A., nick watt is giving up hope. Why do people even try to leave L.A. On Thanksgiving? It's going to be 85 degrees tomorrow. Stay home. Reporter: Which leading us to our next holiday travel tip. Be nice. All those people trying to get you where you're going are having to work today. In the airport term names and the air traffic control towers and on the baggage belts. A blizzard of bags today. Saturday and Sunday when everybody's flying home, we'll see 90,000 to 100,000 bags. We're prepared. Reporter: Speaking of which, do the handlers and yourself a favor, don't check luggage, ever. Pack light. It's a holiday weekend, remember? And, if you are willing to cough up a few extra bucks, the airlines will probably give you royal treatment, however badly you're dressed. Anywhere from $9 to $50, depending on the carrier, you can jump the line and be one of the first people on board. The great news about that, other than peace of mind is, it gives you a place to store your bag in the overhead bin. Reporter: One of the few things you can control on a day when so much is beyond your control. This does not look like a happy place to be. Look at him right here. What does bill recommend? Just drive slow and pay attention. The mirrors just haven't to do your makeup in. Reporter: The lynch sisters probably could have used his advice. I was going so slow and I was turning the corner and I just slowly slid diagonally. Reporter: No problem for bill and his able apprentice. Does it matter where you hook it? What could go wrong? It's my job to steer the Honda so it won't slide back into that tree. And success. No more tree hugging for this car. One little dent back there but that's not too bad. Reporter: That's something to be thankful C fful for. Final tip, thank your blessings. It's not siberia. A plane there got stuck in the show and check out the solution. The passengers pushed it. Presumably they didn't charge for the stoli on that flight. I'm David Wright for "Nightline."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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