The season of festive family gatherings seems like the one when you can avoid many unpleasant things – but the journey to such meetings can become a huge awful disaster. And for the ones who are about to take advantage of the few days off at the end of December to reach one of the most desirable winter sun destinations of the year, it is not a bit more stress-free either. If it is not the first such travel in your life – and it probably isn’t – you will in all likelihood be prepared for the most common troubles, which would inevitably be lurking in your path.
But with the invincible technological progress, continuous changes in the travel industry and shifting journeyers’ habits there is something new to be ready for every year. Not to mention some things that do not happen annually and could be easily forgotten at the most fateful moment. That’s why we prepared this guide which mentions the most essential things every traveler should know while taking a journey during Christmas break.
1. Choose your destination carefully
If you are one of those who travel during Christmas time only to pay a visit to your parents, attend a family gathering or visit a more-than-traditional meeting of friends, there probably wouldn’t be almost any sophisticated route-planning involved as your destination is already clear and definitely isn’t as undiscovered as one of some exotic ‘hot places in December’ choices for Christmas getaway. But if you usually see Christmas as an opportunity for a long-awaited winter break, try to consider using travel agencies for a more stress-free experience – or choose a less-popular destination if you are eager to do all the planning by yourself.
2. Decide which type of traveler you are
According to the usual Christmas break destination preferences, there are generally two types of ‘recreational’ travelers at the time of the winter holidays. The first type is characterized by the obvious longing for the manifestation of the still deeply-rooted ‘white Christmas’ cultural trope. Voyagers evincing such longing are usually those who spend the most of wintertime in the areas, where there is not much – if at all – snow, such as southern parts of European, Asian or North American countries – or even the northern parts of Europe known for its mild climate, for example, Danish or British islands. Another group of travelers longing for snow are the enthusiasts of winter sports, who are usually headed for Austrian, Swiss of French Alps, famous for the numerous world-popular skiing resorts.
The second type, in turn, is characterized by the desire to escape just everything that can remind one about traditional winter in the Northern hemisphere – from the cold gusts of wind to the cozy smell of the firewood burning in the furnace. Those longing for the winter sun is usually traveling in the opposite direction as their desired destinations range from the Canary Islands to Cyprus to such exotic destinations like the Philippines, known for extremely colorful nationwide Christmas celebrations which are also known to last longer than anywhere else.
However, if you consider yourself a representative of one of the above-mentioned types, maybe the best way to try something new this year is not to stay at home for the winter holidays, but to join the other camp. Winter sun destinations are great – after all, they aren’t that popular without a reason. But who would disagree that passing even a beginners’ slope at the picturesque Swiss resort – or have a mug of hot beverage while enjoying a breathtakingly beautiful Alpine view straight from the postcard – is an experience you should have at least once in your life?
3. Do some research and see what’s trending right now
Still unsure about the exact destination for your Christmas getaway? It is not too late to find some cheap holiday destinations. Many tour agencies offer last minute flights to one or a few resorts famous for being perfect locations during winter holiday breaks. But that’s not all: there is also plenty of offers related to seasonal flights to the places which are much more popular exactly at this time of the year. And every year there could be more than one seasonal novelty with tour operators experimenting in giving travelers the new opportunities to discover places they probably haven’t even heard of.
Another option is to follow some trend which has been around for years – if not even decades – but did not happen to involve you as a part of it. For those eager to visit the southern lands of the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas time is one of the best seasons in the year to call on the Holy Land, especially such Biblical destinations as Bethlehem located in the area today known as the West Bank – the site which is believed to be the birthplace of Christ.
And as for those who aren’t exactly into winter sports, but still do not want to miss the snow and the mood of White Christmas, there are plenty of options much further north. Every Nordic country has something to offer for those who want to experience a true winter adventure – without involving any excessive enterprises.
Consider for example the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík – the place famous for illuminating long dark December nights in such a spectacular way that any of the Northern capitals can hardly match the extraordinary Icelandic efforts. Then add a widely-known fact of extremely high chances when it comes to catching especially vivid lights of Aurora borealis here – and a wide range of unique Icelandic experiences that tend to attract thousands of visitors at the coldest and darkest time of the year – from hot springs to the extremely unique local cuisine – and you’ll understand why this little Nordic port should be on your bucket list – if not at the peak of this winter holiday season, then probably sometime very soon.
Another list of Nordic destinations to consider – especially while traveling with family – is an index of places that claims to be the home of Santa Claus. Every Northern country is known for a corresponding assertion with the biggest and most famous Santa theme parks located in the infamous Swedish city of Mora and Finnish village of Rovaniemi – the capital of Lapland.
While the first point of interest is not exactly a ‘White Christmas’ destination – located on the isthmus between the lakes Siljan and Orsan, Mora offers a great chance of snow in the surroundings, but it is not something strictly constant in this area of relatively mild climate – there is a lot to explore even beyond the Santa’s theme park. From the picturesque traditionally-Swedish old town and the historically industrial area dating back to the eighteenth century to the rich Viking-era heritage, discovered at the local archeological site from some thousand years ago. Not to mention a breathtaking Northern Lights experience as Aurora Borealis is something often seen here during the nights of late December.
And when it comes to Rovaniemi – well, that certainly isn’t something that you have never ever heard about. Famous for it’s highly developed tourist infrastructure from the wide range of accommodation facilities to international airport serving even such far-away destinations as Milan or Tel Aviv, it offers not only the unique chance to meet Santa in person but a lot of inimitable ‘winter wonderland’ activities, which would definitely be enough even for a week of unforgettable action. From at least a couple of high-class amusement parks to the even-more-exotic-than-it-sounds winter safari services, offering snowmobile rides, husky- or even reindeer sledding, such northern break will undoubtedly give you a rich stack of stories to continue telling your friends, family, and neighbors for a long time.
4. The exact travel dates is a thing that matters
As Christmas days are major holidays in most Western countries, not only trains, planes, buses as well as highways and public transportation hubs are overcrowded, but most of the carriers on the busier routes tend to drastically raise prices with the naturally increasing demand. If you are traveling a bit further than a few dozens of kilometers out of the city, your travel schedule plans probably will include not only the main holiday dates but also a couple of days before or after Christmas.
If that’s the case, consider the dates for reaching the point of your destination – and traveling back home – not to overlap with the day before or after December 25 – or even the Christmas Eve in some countries. Not only highways and airports tend to be even a few times less busy just a couple days before – and after – the main holiday dates, the price for your ticket can be two to four times lower, allowing to free up some additional budget for the Christmas gifts or some unforeseen expenses.
5. Prepare for the unexpected and pack your suitcase accordingly
With the Christmas rush at the peak, it is easier than ever to face the unthinkable: lost or delayed luggage – not to mention the worst-case scenario of your bag being pilfered in the middle of a long-awaited holiday trip. So now it should be better to be prepared for the worst like no other time. That’s why the usual tips of double-packing, clear switching of valuables between the checked-in luggage and the cabin bag as well as securing the cash, credit cards and travel documents close to your body with a money belt or other such garments are more obliging than ever here.
Another thing to consider while packing for such a trip is a set of things you usually do not need at any other time of the season, so every one of those items is at high risk of being forgotten. The list of such items include shoes with a really good grip (think of it as of universal investment, you also should consider to wear it on board the airplane to save the precious space – a vast majority of such travel companions are also really bulky ones), SPF lip balm and sunscreen (the common myth that it’s useless during the winter season is true only if you are traveling so far north that the polar night is about to show you its true face) as well as a small rucksack for back-up packing in case you will find yourself out and about. First aid kit is also a thing to consider, but if your travel destination is a picturesque Alpine ski resort, you’ll probably want to obtain one when you’ll get there in order to avoid overpacking.
No matter how complicated the Christmas travel can probably get, just a few of us could consider it as something not worth waiting for. After all, we are raised to believe that the Christmas miracle is something as powerful as it is transcendental. So like every year, we could find ourselves convincing each other that the ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ is something totally unrelated to this winter holiday travel – but still be prepared for the worst. And there is one of the most common things that can ruin your holidays – the one you can expect, but still can never be properly prepared for.
Yes, we are talking about flight disruptions. Just like at the peak of the summer season, such a thing can happen while traveling during the winter holidays. But do not let a canceled, delayed or overbooked flight ruin your Christmas. Remember: if you are traveling from an EU-based airport or if you travel is within the European Union, you can claim up to €600 in compensation for your disrupted flight. This applies either if you did not reach your point of destination earlier than with the delay of three hours or if you did not get on board at all due to flight overbooking. You are also entitled to such compensation in corresponding circumstances if you are traveling anywhere in the world with an EU-registered airline. So avoid the trouble by choosing one of the air carriers of the European Union.
And if you already have experienced a flight disruption, contact Skycop. We are here to help you get the money you deserve. Fill our claim form now to find out if your flight is eligible for compensation – it’s completely free.