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Travelling to Relatives at Christmas Time

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 30 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Christmas Travel Rail Train Flying

Christmas is the time of year that we all like to catch up with relatives that we haven’t seen in a while, and so our thoughts start to turn to travel arrangements and fitting everyone in. The biggest problem is that everybody else seems to want to travel at the same time as we do, so not only are the roads always full but the fares rise and the baggage handlers always seem to threaten to go on strike too.

So how can you make the annual Christmas journey a little less stressful for all concerned?

Planning Your Journey Ahead

Nobody can claim that they didn’t know Christmas was coming in advance, so apart from sheer disorganisation, there’s no real reason for not being ahead of the game when it comes to getting to your Christmas holiday destination. First of all, think about how you’ll get there and how to reduce the cost involved. Organising travel tickets well in advance can save you plenty of money, which is always a bonus at Christmas.

Travelling Light

Depending on how you plan to get there, it's best to travel light and consider even going a few days earlier just so that you can do some last minute christmas shopping. If you travel by car it's not too bad as you can take whatever clothes, gifts and extra food supplies you can fit in the boot and the back of the car - but the airlines love to make money out of your generosity so if you've splurged on gifts galore, be prepared to splurge on excess baggage - they won't let it go at this time of the year. Also, it can pay to leave gifts unwrapped just in case an over zealous security person decides to investigate the lovingly wrapped parcels in your luggage. Or confiscate your dad's annual whisky rations because of some EU rule about duty free.

On the trains it's also best to travel with as little luggage as possible, as there's never much room for comfort when they are busy at this time of year. Bear in mind that the bad weather affects trains as well as cars and planes, in fact a leaf on the line or the wrong kind of snow seems able to send the rail networks into panic. Keep up to date on engineering works and delays, and book seats in advance on long journeys if you don't want to arrive at your destination in a state of stress and with sore feet from standing all the way there.

Terrible Weather

If you decide to travel by car, remember the notoriously volatile British climate is no respecter of the Christmas season and you could be caught up in bad weather. If your journey is a long one, pack any essential medicines and other items where they are easy to find, plus some food and a flask of soup or another hot drink for those ‘stuck on the M25 in the cold’ moments. It’s worth taking blankets in the boot of the car too – it may sound over the top but if there’s unexpected heavy snow and you’re stuck in the car along with a whole load of other impatient Christmas travellers, you probably won’t be going anywhere until it clears. For this reason, take a charged mobile phone with you too. You can phone ahead to let people know where you are and often keep track of the traffic situation using a mobile traffic service at the same time.

Happy Christmas travelling!

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