Last December, Danny and I spent Christmas in Romania. Its was the first time that I’d ever travelled out of the country for the holidays (I’ve flown in for the holidays though).
I won’t sit here and lie to you and tell you that it was all smooth sailing. December travels are never smooth. We had two long layovers – 9 hours in Barbados which we spent on the beach and 7 hours in Munich which we spent at a Christmas market. We were super tired and jet lagged by the time we got to Munich (and still had a flight to catch to Romania), we were cold (we left the hot Caribbean and landed in snowy Germany – it wasn’t supposed to be snowing – before heading to an even snowier Romania as seen above) and overall it was just not the smoothest couple days of travel. But we learned a lot from it.
I can finally share what we learned.
1. Research your location
Will it be a cold trip ? Or Hot (Caribbean, Asia, Australia etc). You’ll need to pack accordingly so this is very important.
Like I said above it was tough leaving a hot country to go to a cold country. I love the cold but just even dressing for the trip must be considered. Also, last year while in Romania we went on a trip to the mountains which was much colder than Bucharest where Danny’s family lives and required many more layers. Its just important to know the climate of where you’re travelling to before you leave.
Bran Brasov, Romania
2. Put things in place for your absence
It’s the little things that can make Holiday Travel stressful. Remember to leave gifts for family members you won’t be around (I forgot quite a few of these last year); organise care for pets (I had to get a pet sitter for Chanel for three weeks) or family members who may need it; secure your home (house sitters, alarms etc) and just in general consider the little details that need to be taken care of.
Life doesn’t stop because you decide to travel.
3. Pack wisely
Packing is probably the most important part of prepping for a holiday trip. Remember to pack gifts for those you will be spending holidays with, proper attire – not just for weather but for any events that you may be going to. That said, if you’re flying, packing light is the best decision you can male around the holidays which is the biggest time of the year for delays, flight interruptions and lost luggage.
It’s a balancing act deciding what to take and what not to take but it can be done. In this post I blogged my winter travel must haves, and they were basically my staples for three weeks.
4. Avoid high traffic travel days
If it is possible, travel on low traffic travel days.
If it’s a road trip, start the drive during the week and during low peak hours. If you’re flying, research the best days to fly out of your area as well as the best days to fly into the place you’re flying. Remember winter / Christmas is one of the worst times of the year to travel but choosing the right day can make it just that much easier.
5. Get to the airport early …
… and if you’re driving, leave early.
I cannot tell you the rush that we faced last year from Munich to Romania. It seemed like all Romanians were heading home for Christmas, which they probably were. Since everyone would be in a rush – you’re not the only one trying to get to family or loved ones for the holidays after all – its probably best to start your travels early to avoid eventualities.
6. Fly direct and avoid connections if you can
Well this was impossible for us last year, but we could have flown more direct than we did. We chose at the time to save money since our wedding was a few months away. If we were to do it over again during the holidays (which we will next year God’s willing) we will fly direct to London and then direct from London to Romania. Two planes instead of 4/5 and we’d avoid the delays and hassle of jumping all over the place. The ticket is much higher if we do it that way but the peace of mind is probably worth it.
Scratch that. Its definitely worth it.
7. Stay with family if you can
To save money during the holidays, and since you are probably travelling to see family anyway its a good tip to stay with family.
Not only do you get the homey feel of the holidays but you also save a buck or two which is always nice.
8. Book hotels early
If staying with family is not an option, then book your hotels, airbnbs or hostels early. This will save you so much stress. We actually spent a couple days in the mountains our Christmas trip and we booked those rooms last August – four months in advance!
If thats not an option use travel apps like hotel tonight to find good deals on hotels. I swear by these travel apps.
9. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst
I almost left this off the list because its not really a tip now is it.
But also, it is.
So many things can pop up during the holidays and its just best to be prepared. For example, it was a good thing that Danny and I packed swimsuits even while travelling to a cold country because we were able to relax on the beach during a nine hour layover in Barbados. Things happen.
10. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the trip
Through the good and bad, enjoy the trip. Not everyone is fortunate enough to travel out of their comfort zones (nor does everyone want to – which is ok too). Putting things into perspective can really help while travelling – travel is a blessing. So … Cold in the airport like we were in Munich? Find a Christmas market, drink some Gluhwein and eat some treats. Lost baggage? Well that means new clothes.
Basically, turn the negatives into positives and enjoy the trip… It’s worth it.