Your Christmas and New Year travel checklist
If you're travelling to see friends or family over the festive period, the last thing you'll want ...
17:51 20 December 2012
If you're travelling to see friends or family over the festive period, the last thing you'll want is to lose any time with the ones you love because you've missed your train or are stuck in a traffic jam.
According to Santander, there will be more than 36million people on the nation's roads, trains and planes this Christmas, so it's vital you are organised to prevent anything going wrong when the roads, stations and airports will be extremely busy.
Whether you're travelling by plane, train or automobile, follow our tips below to make sure your journey is as stress-free as possible.
Travelling by plane?
With so much going on at Christmas, even the most organised of travellers may get swept away in the festive spirit and forget something. So, before you leave for the airport, take a look at our checklist.
- Make sure you have all of the essentials for your trip such as your passport, boarding tickets, copies of your travel insurance policy and any medication you will need while you are away. If you are short for time, print off our handy packing list to help.
- With Christmas presents, party outfits and warm woolly jumpers to squeeze into your bags, packing light may seem like a challenge. But, before you cram everything into your suitcase, find out both your hand and checked luggage allowances - each airline's is different and going over your allowance, even slightly, can be an expensive mistake.
- If you are packing seasonal items, check whether your airline will allow them in your luggage. Ryanair, for example, doesn't allow passengers to pack Christmas crackers, and party poppers won't be allowed either. And, it's wise not to wrap your Christmas presents before you travel as you may be asked to unwrap them for inspection.
- If you are taking food and drink along to your celebrations, don't forget that the 100ml hand luggage rules will still apply at Christmas and to check whether certain food items, such as meat, can be brought into the country you are visiting.
- Allow extra time to get to and from the airport as the roads and trains will be busy. If you can't prove that you left sufficient time to reach the airport and you miss your flight, you may not be able to claim anything back on your travel insurance.
- Allow extra time to get through the airport when you've arrived too.
- If you are driving to the airport, prebook your parking space to save both time and up to 60% off drive-up prices. Heathrow, for example, is expecting 4.3million passengers to travel through the airport in December, with December 21 expected to be the busiest day. So, to guarantee you get a spot at the best price, book now.
- If you are travelling by train or taxi to reach your airport, book your transport now so you know that you can travel at the time you need. Don't forget to allow extra time too.
- The winter weather has already delayed flights this winter, so to prevent any extra stress if your flight doesn't go to plan, know your rights should your flight be cancelled or delayed.
Travelling by car?
- Being stuck in your car on a long journey is something everyone wants to avoid, but winter weather and busy roads make it even more essential to be prepared.
- Before you set off on any journey, ensure that your car is ready for winter driving by doing basic checks such as looking for any cracks in the windscreen, checking all of your lights are working properly and ensuring that both your front and back demisters are working. For a full list, Les Roberts has put together a guide to driving safe this winter.
- Allow extra time for your journey as so many people will be on the roads and pack a map or a sat nav in case you have to change your route. It's also a good idea to have an alternative route planned in case of accidents or road closures.
- To stand the best chance of avoiding delays, look up travel news before you set off and, while you are travelling, set up traffic alerts so you have advance warning of any trouble ahead.
- Take snacks, music and drinks for your journey - especially if you are travelling with children - to keep you all going. According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, the most popular song to listen while travelling over Christmas is 'White Christmas' while 'Santa Baby' was voted the most annoying.
- No one likes to think about breaking down, but make sure you are in the best position should anything go wrong with your car. Put your breakdown provider's phone number in your mobile and have any details such as your membership card or policy number in your vehicle.
Travelling by train
Recent research from Santander found that Brits will spend £134million on train fares this Christmas. If you are taking to the tracks to get home, here's how to make your journey as trouble-free as possible.
- Check the timetables over the festive period and look out for any planned engineering work where replacement buses may be in operation. There are no trains running on Christmas Day, for example, and many companies, including Virgin, aren't running any services on Boxing Day either. On other days, limited Sunday services may be in operation. You can look up your train company's timetable and find out about engineering work on the National Rail website.
- As soon as you know when you are travelling, book your train tickets to snap up the cheapest fares. You may be able to buy reduced advance tickets even the night before travel, so don't just wait until you get to the station. Plus, if you already have your tickets, you can avoid the hassle of queuing at the desk when you arrive and you'll have a reserved seat on the train.
- If you do buy an advance or saver ticket though, find out if there are any restrictions around when you can travel.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.