It is Christmas holiday time. Time to get away, put work on hold, relax, sit by the pool or catch up with family. Sounds great, right? Yet chances are everyone is thinking the same as you and this means crowds at the airport and on the road. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful time. Whether you travel by air, road, sea or rail, these travel principles will help you chill out during your holiday commute this Christmas season.
Most importantly, remember your manners. There’s no point in getting upset with long lines, traffic jams and delays. Everyone is trying to escape the city for the holidays. The polite traveller will always achieve better results with airport staff than the aggressive one. Be courteous when talking to airline staff if your flight is cancelled or delayed, because they are doing their best to ensure that everyone gets to the right flight and that the planes take off on schedule.
If you are driving on the road, don’t rush, use the moment to re-connect with the family the old fashioned way – talking. Bring along your favourite Christmas tunes, switch off technology and get to know each other again. For those who want to get into the holiday spirit even more, don a red and white Santa hat for the road trip!
Take advantage of the digital world
The internet has revolutionised the way we travel so why not take advantage and save time lining up. Everything from flights, transfers, accommodation, dining, activities and more is available to book online. More importantly, save time in airport queues by checking in online and receive your boarding pass direct to your Smartphone. Be sure to download the airline’s app so that you can get up to date information on flight and gate changes. During the Christmas peak times, with the availability of so many travel apps you will find one for all your travel needs. Digital self service travel is your best friend.
Travel Early (or Later) in the Day
For those planning on driving this Christmas take note of the busiest days on the road. Traditionally, in Australia the busiest drive days are the two days before Christmas and Boxing Day. .If you can, travel early in the morning or late at night as the peak traffic period builds in the middle of the day when everyone is on the road. This strategy works if you are flying too. Flights leaving early in the morning have a better record of arriving at their destinations on time. However, plan to leave for the airport early and give yourself plenty of time to handle any delays such as traffic and security.
Pack Light and Smart
When in doubt, leave it out. This is my mantra for packing when I travel. Think about what you really need and importantly, what you really will use! Do you really need to check luggage or can you get away with a carry-on? Airport personnel tend not to have much Christmas spirit with overweight bags, so if you are arriving early at your destination consider buying the Christmas presents when you arrive. The advantage of travelling with carry-on luggage only means less time waiting in the baggage hall, Christmas presents won’t go missing and you can walk straight through to the exit. Airlines love it if you can fit everything into a small carry-on bag weighing no more than 7kg!
If you do have to travel with gifts, don’t wrap them and carry them in your hand luggage because you may have to be presented for inspection. Keep them small. Better yet, post them on to your final destination or buy gifts cards instead.
The number one rule of travel is: “If you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel”. Each year hundreds of Australians don’t take up travel insurance for wither domestic or international trips. They think that they will never need it, however, it is a small cost for peace of mind in case of the unexpected. There are many competitive deals among insurance companies that is is money well spent to ensure you and the Christmas presents arrive safely.
Be Flexible and Plan Ahead
Being flexible with your travel plans during the holiday season will make you a winner. If you can travel earlier then take advantage. Most people will be travelling Christmas Eve which makes the roads congested and the airports packed. Plan your trip well in advance and you can save yourself time and money. Many online booking sites such as Expedia often have early bird deals. When choosing your accommodation price is not always the most important factor for people. Check the location and distances between the airport, hotels and the main attractions you want to visit. You will be grateful that you did your research when you discover how much time you saved travelling.
On the road, plan alternative driving routes in case of long delays or traffic incidents. Why not choose the scenic route with less congestion and enjoy the journey with your family. You may also discover an out of the way small town you may never have noticed on the main highway. The holiday season is about discovering new adventures to share with your family and friends. So make the most of drive time!
Inhale. Exhale. Stay positive. Delays will happen. The traveller who is mentally prepared for slight setbacks will triumph this holiday season. Boredom is your ultimate enemy if you have to wait too long. Pack a good book, a bottle of water, IPod and an inflatable pillow and you are ready to handle whatever the Christmas season throws at you.
All photos courtesy of Google Clip Art Gallery