Some people like nothing better than to spend the holidays at home, surrounded by family and friends, and feasting on all the delicious festive dishes that fill the table at Christmas. After all, the holidays are about connecting with the people you care about and enjoying life’s simple pleasures together. This is also a great way to make room for more joy and avoid the seasonal exhaustion that so many people complain about.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have those who can’t wait to pack their bags and hit the ground running the moment they feel a bit of Christmas cheer in the air. However, with Christmas being a particularly busy period for travelling, planning a trip around this time of the year might require some extra caution and attention.
So, if you fall in the latter category and intend to spend this Christmas on the road, here are some tips to keep in mind for a stress-free holiday.
Start planning in advance
Starting travel preparations in advance is always a good idea as it gives you time to do your research and handle all the necessary travel arrangements without any rush. Since Christmas comes with added pressure for both travellers and travel services, it’s all the more important to plan ahead of time, so the earlier you put things into motion, the better.
Flight prices tend to climb the closer the holidays get. If you want to book flights early and save money, using flight price alerts on your travel apps is a good idea. This will help you monitor airfares, so you can purchase your tickets as soon as you find a good deal. And if you’ve booked a flight from a busy airport like Heathrow, you can make your journey smoother by also booking Heathrow parking.
Choose less popular destinations
If your holiday travel plans involve visiting family or friends, you already know the destination you’re headed to. But if you have no obligations and you’re free to make your own itinerary, you might want to look beyond the obvious options.
Lapland, Paris, Vienna, Iceland, or Prague are all great Christmas destinations but they’re also incredibly popular, which means they’ll be swarming with tourists from all over the world, not to mention that the costs for transport, accommodation and food can leave a huge dent in your budget.
So, you should ask yourself if you really want to spend your vacation trying to make your way through the crowds and deal with all the hustle and bustle that reigns in big cities. For a more peaceful holiday experience, we suggest you turn your attention towards less popular places. There are plenty of underrated locations, including wonderful countryside resorts and quaint little towns and villages, that might not be mentioned in any travel tops or lists but have all the Christmas charm for a truly magical holiday.
Opt for direct flights
While flights with layovers are usually less expensive than direct flights, you might want to opt for the latter for winter travel. That’s because the weather in the cold season is extremely moody and that can impact the flight schedule. It’s not uncommon for tourists to deal with cancelled flights and remain stranded in airports for hours or even days due to snow storms or unfavourable weather conditions.
Speaking of airports, you should also consider flying to smaller airports, as they’re less crowded and easier to navigate during busy times like Christmas. So, if you’re travelling from London, you might want to look into flights from Stansted instead of Heathrow, and also check out Stansted airport parking while you’re booking your flight.
Avoid travelling at peak times
You might think it’s impossible to avoid peak travel dates since the month of December in itself is a peak travel time. However, some days are busier than others in terms of airport traffic, so you can still time your trip as long as you are flexible with your travel dates.
In general, the day before Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas are the busiest ones for air travel. If these fall on a Friday, which is known to be a hectic day for flying all year round, things can get even more chaotic. If you have the luxury of choosing your departure and return dates, we suggest you avoid these days and book your flight before or after this timeframe. You’ll not only enjoy a more relaxed travel experience, but airfares are also a lot cheaper when there’s less demand.
Get your car checked before you leave
While flying is the most popular travel option these days since it’s the fastest way to reach a destination, car trips are also an alternative worth considering as they give you more freedom and flexibility to move around and explore new places, while also being more cost-effective in some cases.
However, you have to take into account that winter weather can pose a challenge, especially if you’re not an experienced driver. Regardless of your driving skills, you need to take your car to the mechanic and have it thoroughly inspected before you hit the road to make sure you don’t have any unpleasant surprises along the way.
Since you’re preparing for a holiday break, not a trip around the world, it’s best to keep bags at a minimum and only take hand luggage with you. It will make it easier for you to move around and help you avoid extra airport charges for going over the baggage limit. Besides, the last thing you want is to have your trip ruined because of lost or stolen luggage. The safest and smartest thing to do is to make a list of the basic items you’ll be needing during your travel and pack as lightly as possible.
And last, but not least, try to make the most of your Christmas holiday, no matter where your travel plans take you.
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