Budget Living

6 Christmas Travel Tips You Need This Festive Season

Christmas is hectic at the best of times, but with travel logistics in the mix as well, it can feel more like a military operation than a festive celebration.  From picking up last minute shopping and visiting friends and family to commuting and even holidays, more than 14 million of us take to the roads over the festive period. Add the number of people who rely on trains at Christmas, and that’s a lot of people on the move. We’ve gathered the best Christmas travel tips to help you get from A to B as smoothly as possible this festive season.

Book trains in advance

Festive trains get booked up, particularly on the last Friday and Saturday before Christmas when the most people are travelling. Train operators release advance tickets 12 weeks in advance, so this is the best time to snap up cheap tickets and have your pick of train times. If you’ve missed the boat for this year’s Christmas travel, though, buying an advance ticket even a day before you travel will still save you money vs. purchasing your ticket on the day. Plus, if you go direct to the train operator’s website, they’re less likely to charge you booking fees than if you book through a site like The Train Line.

Consider hiring a car

If you’ll be doing a lot of travelling over the Christmas period, it may be more cost effective to hire a car. Particularly if you’re travelling with your partner or as a family, the set cost of car hire split between you may work out cheaper than all your train tickets and taxi fares. Remember there are extras to pay for when you hire a car, though, like excess waivers and of course, fuel!

Time your travel

Whatever your mode of transport, timing your journey to make it as smooth as possible is a must. Some of the days between Christmas and New Year are working days that not everybody takes as holiday. If you’re travelling on these days, timing your journey to avoid rush hour will make it less congested, whether that’s with vehicles or people! Travelling off-peak on trains is also cheaper for those who weren’t able to book their Christmas travel in advance!

Prepare your vehicle

If you’re using your own vehicle to travel, the last thing you want to happen is to break down. Before you travel, give your car a good wash to make sure all your lights are clean. Check they’re all working so you can be seen in the dark. Top up your screenwash and engine coolant with antifreeze. Check your windscreen for any chips that could become cracks when exposed to the cold. Stash an emergency kit in the boot with de-icer, scrapers, a torch and a couple of blankets, just in case. Think about how likely you are to need a shovel or other tools, too. You should also check your battery, as it uses more energy during the winter months, and your tyres. The general rule is to have at least 3mm of tread depth in winter to make sure you can brake effectively when you need to.

Read more: 5 Tips and Tricks to get Your Car Winter Ready

Have a Plan B

Network Rail and The Highways Agency often take advantage of the festive period to crack on with maintenance and engineering. On top of that, the weather has a mind of its own. During winter the UK can be prone to storms and snow! Check your route before you book tickets and definitely before you travel. This is especially important if your Christmas travel means flying anywhere. If there’s one thing you can’t be late for, it’s a flight! If there are conditions or works affecting your route, be prepared for delays. It’s wise to have an alternative in mind just in case you need it. Remember, on delayed trains, you may be able to claim for a refund on the cost of your ticket depending on the operator.

Leave your home secure

If your Christmas travel means you’ll be away for a few days, make sure you take precautions to keep your home secure. If you’re friendly with your neighbours, you can ask them to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. Pick up timer switches so you can set lights to turn on and off to give the impression you’re home. Leave your central heating on low, either all the time or on a timer, to prevent burst pipes. If you’re going to be gone for a while, think about cancelling newspaper deliveries and using a service like Royal Mail’s KeepSafe to prevent your post from building up on your doormat – a sure sign that you’re not home to pick it up.

Whatever your travel plans this year, we hope you have a safe journey and restful break!