Survival Guide: Travelling home for Christmas

By | December 23, 2011

The journey home for Christmas is an annual pilgrimage for many and can be a process that is fraught with stress, bad weather and heavy traffic. If you are one of those making the yearly voyage, here are several tips to help you on your merry way.

The cost for travel tends to skyrocket during the holiday season, so it’s wise to get in early. If you are flying, taking a train or catching a bus home this Christmas, buying your tickets as early as possible can mean big savings. Booking early also means you can get your chosen travel date and avoid seats being sold out.

If you are travelling by train or bus this Christmas, getting to the station early can make all the difference between a relaxing journey and a stressful one. Early comers will have their pick of prime seats and will be able to stow luggage and gifts somewhere that they won’t get crushed. Pack a blanket, some snacks and entertainment to pass the time and the journey will be a breeze.

Flying home by plane is another popular choice, as it is fast and, with the arrival of cheap airlines, it can often be the cheapest travel option. However, don’t forget to take into consideration travel to and from the airport and waiting times. Sometimes, choosing to fly home can mean an extra 3 hours spent waiting or getting to and from the airport, on top of the flight duration. If it is an internal flight, you may want to ask yourself whether it would actually be quicker to drive.

If flying is the best travel option for you, there are a number of things to keep in mind to make sure your flight is stress-free. Pack responsibly bearing in mind airport security and what you are and aren’t allowed to carry on. Wrapping your gifts at your destination will also mean there is no chance that security will tear anything open. Arrive early at the airport and allow plenty of time to check in and get through security, as queues are often much longer during the holiday season. Also, pack snacks and entertainment for the flight to help the hours pass.

If you plan on driving the distance home this Christmas, there are a number of things you need to do to avoid any pitfalls. Firstly, map out your route, taking into account any road works, tolls or city-centre congestion that could hold you up. Plan an itinerary so that you arrive at your destination on time. See if you can get away from work or school early to avoid peak traffic times. If you will be travelling for more than two hours, break the journey up with regular stops to stretch the legs and have a coffee.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your vehicle is ready for the drive. A few days before you head off, top up your car’s oil, water and wiper fluid levels, check the tyre tread and pressure (don’t forget the spare one) and check that all your lights are working. Packing the car the night before will help avoid any last minute stress.

Bad weather, natural disasters, robberies and accidents can all spoil your Christmas travel plans. Missing Christmas with your family or having the brand new presents stolen is heartbreaking. While there is little you can do to change the weather or get rid of traffic jams, you can avoid being caught-out financially by making sure you have travel insurance. If you have a number of journeys organised over the Christmas period, multi trip travel insurancemay be a more cost effective option.

Planning ahead, booking travel early, giving yourself plenty of time and making sure you are adequately covered should something go wrong means your journey will be as relaxing as possible.