As I sit pool side at home in Melbourne enjoying the sun my thoughts keep coming back to those travelling all over the world to see family and friends over Christmas and New Year’s period. Particularly friends in the USA, UK and Europe where I have lived at various times who this year are enjoying a (very cold) white Christmas! Anyone who has to travel this year has seen the stories of passengers sleeping on airport floors, lost luggage and endless delays as they try to reach their Christmas destinations.
I spent many years overseas going somewhere at Christmas and so the long lines, anxious passengers and inevitable
delays became a yearly ritual. However since I’ve had kids my wife and I have started to make our own holiday memories at home and although we inevitably still travel sometimes during the holiday season we’ve had to become a bit more realistic about when we travel and what we can do. So how to survive Christmas travel?
Stay at home, have friends/family come to you
Yes that might seem obvious but more relaxing it is. Forget the long drive, train or flight to the other side of the world (or country) and stay close to home. Cook some great food and the kids can enjoy opening presents at home. But returning home to parents, family is a must do so:
Go, but go early
Travel in the few days running up to Christmas is bound to be busy; delays and stress even with good weather are going to happen. Why not plan to take a few extra days and spend a long weekend or week extra away – stopover somewhere, or like us drop the kids off with grandparents and escape to a nice B&B/hotel for a few days to relax before rejoining the Christmas frenzy. But we have to work right up to Christmas you say – then:
Consider alternative forms of transport and travel when it’s least busy (during the busiest times)
You know it’s going to be busy, so if travelling by car make sure you leave early morning before many others or plan a route that includes a stop off to give a break . Take the flight that’s first thing in the morning so that delays don’t have the chance to back up as much. And consider some creative ways to travel – helicopter anyone, take the train, ride your bike – consider your options but if impractical:
Contingency – Have Plan B and C ready!
At the best of times things can go wrong but at Christmas you need to have some contingency. Have travel insurance so if there are delays or you have to cancel that you’ll get money to cover the changes. You might have discounted alternative routes and transport in your planning but have them in mind if your preferred route get shuts down and be ready to switch. And finally recognise that delays can happen, plans can change and if you can’t make it to wherever you planned for some reason then make the most of where you are – meet up with friends, have a drink and great meal – let the stress of delays ebb away and you may find it’s the best Christmas you’ve had.
And at all times have a good book or some relaxing music with you to help see you through the delays. Smile at the good and the bad that happens – there’s no point getting bitter about it. Enjoy the Holidays!