Looking forward to the smell of turkey, sharing presents under the tree… and the sparkle of car headlights as you’re stuck on the motorway? Unfortunately, everyone else is inconsiderate enough to also be heading to their families in the festive break, so grid lock is a definite threat, whether you’re going by car or public transport.
To avoid bringing out your inner Grinch, here are some ways to keep your Christmas journeys as stress-free as possible this year – giving you more time and energy to stuff yourself silly.
1) Avoid (expensive) peak travel times
Rail company Scrooges will be out to charge as much money as they can this festive season, so be sure to avoid weekends and peak hours where possible if you’re using public transport to visit your loved ones. That may mean setting your alarm clock and getting up a little earlier to beat the crowds on the roads, but it’ll be worth it. Just think of the mulled wine waiting for you on the other end!
2) Plan ahead
National transport meltdowns do not make for a relaxing Christmas. The last thing you want is to be squeezed onto a rail replacement coach on Christmas Eve, arriving home at some unholy hour with no time for your last-minute gift wrapping. National Rail carried out a lot of “essential engineering” works over the Christmas period last year, and provided details of how services would be disrupted. Make sure you’re ahead of the curve this year. National Rail have their own handy guide to train services around the festive season, organised by region, and the RAC’s free app provides up-to-the-minute traffic news.
Ride-sharing is a fantastic way to protect yourself against travel woes – and save yourself a little Christmas cash to boot. Services like BlaBlaCar allow you to connect with others heading the same way, making for a classic opportunity to put on ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ as you indulge in some festive themed chat with your new travel buddies. The BlaBlaCar app is free to download and allows members to specify how chatty they like to be en route. It’s also got a ladies only feature, which could be a safer option for girls avoiding randy Santas. There’s a rating system, so you can find out about members before you travel with them and you can connect with them on social media beforehand just to double check they’re not lunatics.
4) Don’t overpack
Wherever you are in the country, chances are that you’ll spend the vast majority of your Christmas break at home, eating and drinking with your nearest and dearest. Be realistic about what you’re taking with you – you’re not going to need a change of outfit every three hours if your afternoon is likely to be spent flopped on the sofa watching BBC Christmas specials. If all this worrying sounds like too much hassle, apps like Packing Pro are great for helping to sort your suitcase in record time, helping you work out whether you really need to bring that spare reindeer onesie.
5) Travel with tunes
Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or car this Christmas, nothing will get you in a festive mood like a killer Christmas playlist. Whether it’s Mariah Carey or the usual traditional tunes by Slade or The Pogues, you can brighten up your journey no end with a well-planned playlist. Soundcloud or Spotify are both useful for jolly playlists to put you in the mood for festivities and brighten up your journey. If you’re car sharing, conflicting musical tastes might inspire a bust up – so beware!
And don’t forget to wear the essential Santa hat and tinsel on your journey!