Plan your journey
If you haven’t already booked your Christmas travel, whether it’s home or away, consider travelling lesser known routes. During the holiday period, the most efficient and quickest way isn’t always the best. Over seven million people flew from UK airports last year for their Christmas break. During this period, air travel is notorious for being chaotic and delayed. If you’re flying abroad from either Gatwick or Heathrow this Christmas, you may have to make alternative travel arrangements to get to the airports themselves, as there is a limited transport/shuttle service during this period.
It goes without saying, but try to avoid rush hour if you can, even if it means you arrive well before your flight or train’s departure – it’s better to sit relaxing in the station bar than sweating, looking at your watch behind an endless queue of cars. It’s also worth checking train and public transport schedules as some may be operating less frequently than usual over Christmas.
Nothing turns festive cheer into festive gloom like an excess baggage charge at the airport, so you may want to rethink your hand and hold luggage before you travel. It’s natural to be carrying a tad more weight than usual (in your luggage we mean), during the Christmas period, but try to leave unnecessary items at home to avoid any extra charges.
It’s also worth being mindful of any customs or import regulations for countries you are travelling to (most Christmas crackers aren’t allowed!) If you decide to take hand luggage, check out our handy guide to make sure you don’t go over the limit!
At this time of year you need to be clever about the weather. Yes, it might still be unusually mild now for November, but what you really need to know is what the weather will be doing when you are ready to go. Unfortunately, the one thing you can’t control is the weather, but you can check the forecast (and warnings) regularly before you travel and most importantly make a plan for the worst! Regardless of where you’re flying to, keep checking your flight status over and over so you can make plans for delays and cancellations!
It’s all about the timing
There are a number of flight statistics that show planes travelling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. It also means that if your flight is cancelled, you still have the rest of the day to potentially rebook! However, if your priority is getting home for Christmas you might want to choose an overnight less sociable flight…they call it the red eye for a reason…just saying!
Travelling with food
If you’re thinking about Christmas cake…maybe wait until you get there! Food markets are everywhere at Christmas, and jars of marmalade and novelty blocks of cheese make great presents. However, travelling with food can cause all sorts of problems, so you need to be extra careful and check whether what food and drink items are allowed into the country. The GOV.UK website is a good place to start.
If you’re bringing gifts with you when you travel, be mindful of customs and import regulations in the country you’re travelling to and be careful not to exceed your allowance if travelling outside the EU. Customs and security may need to search your bag and will view wrapped packages with suspicion. So, take advantage of duty free shopping to nab last-minute goodies for your loved ones!
Embrace local traditions
The main thing to remember is to have fun! So if you’re travelling abroad for Christmas, why not join in with local celebrations whenever you can. Why not try panettone in Italy or sweets and street parties in Spain. If you’re travelling to the southern hemisphere, December is a summer month – so Christmas Day is often marked in Australia with a barbie on the beach!