Is Travelling Over Christmas A Good Idea?

The festive season is upon us and we imagine you’ve made most of your plans for Christmas and New Year’s by now. A lot of people will be planning to travel to see family members or escape for some winter sun. Naturally, some people prefer staying at home for Christmas, and save their travels for the summer. This is for the people who are undecided or need a little bit of guidance and inspiration. We want to help you make the right decision for you, and to also show you how you can make last-minute winter plans without the huge price tag.

Winter travel is unsurprisingly popular. In the US, 97.4 million people will be driving during the holidays for both family visits and vacations. That’s 29% of the population who will be packing up their cars over Christmas and New Year’s. On top of that, 6.4 million people, 1.9% of the population, hop onto planes and jet off to somewhere new.

In comparison, 4.5 million Brits will travel abroad over Christmas, which is 6.8% of the population in the UK. People clearly love travelling with their families at a time that’s meant for spending time with loved ones. But does this mean that if you book a vacation, you’ll be stuck in queues and staying in overcrowded hotels?

Well, as with every travel decision, it depends on when and where you go.


Busiest day of the Christmas period

The busiest days of the Christmas period for 2018 will reportedly be 21 and 22 December, the Friday and Saturday before Christmas Day.

Europe’s busiest airport, London Heathrow, is expecting a quarter of a million passengers to pass through on the Friday. Last year, the 22nd was also the day when 33% of flights taking off from US airports were delayed for an average of 52 minutes.

Does this mean that you might be packed in like sardines at the airport or bumper to bumper on the roads? Potentially. Is it worth going? That all depends if you have the time and the money. Not only are these dates popular, but they’re also expensive. Expect to pay almost three times as much for a flight on the 21 and 22 December as you would for a flight a few days earlier.

So if not the weekend preceding Christmas, you might be wondering when you should go. Some articles advise booking travel plans for Christmas Day itself as most people don’t want to fly on the holiday. That’s all good and well if you have that kind of flexibility but big families or people with kids won’t find the suggestion to change tradition particularly helpful. 19 and 20 December 2018, which are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Christmas are still busy but less popular and therefore less expensive. It may mean you have to take a few extra days off work and school but it’s worth it to avoid the stress. Of course, this is only the beginning of your vacation. What about when you get there?


busy airport


Destination Christmas

If you’re travelling to see family and friends, then all you need to worry about is the travel there and back. Once you’re there, you can sit back and enjoy the holiday. However, winter sun seekers have another hurdle to jump: accommodation.

Any vacation has this problem to contend with, making sure you go somewhere that has an atmosphere but isn’t crowded, little luxuries but no extortionate room rates, and right in the centre of everything without being noisy. Sounds easy!

US travellers love Cancun and Florida all year round and Brits flock to Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. During the summer, these are heaving with tourists but what about the colder months?

If you’re flying out from the UK, expect packed planes to these sunny Spanish destinations. The Canary Islands frequently rank at the top of every “Winter Sun Destination Guide” out there and it’s no surprise; the top three most popular holiday spots are the Canaries, the Balearics and mainland Spain. In 2017, 82 million people visited the country, 18.8 million of which were from the United Kingdom, which means that you could still expect a significant number of people joining you over the festive period.

And if you thought that was bad, a trip to Florida could find you battling with crowds. Over 100 million people visit the state every single year, no matter what time of year. It’s not called The Sunshine State for no reason. Bear in mind that Spain is four times the size of Florida, which means it can get pretty cramped.


size of Florida in comparison to Spain

Image courtesy of


It’s not just winter sun which attracts the tourists. People are trying to get an authentic festive experience now, away from the rain of Britain or the warmth of the Southern US states.

New York at Christmas, for instance, sounds romantic, right? Did you know that up to 2 million people are in Times Square for the moment when the ball drops? Or perhaps you fancy an immersive festive experience at an authentic German Christmas market. You’ll be joining the 85 million people who flock to Germany for the famous markets. That’s more people in a one month period than Spain gets over the course of the whole year. A lot of the markets take place in sleepy villages with only a small number of residents, so you can only imagine how tightly packed it can get as you shuffle from stall to stall.


German Christmas market


Money money money!

Maybe crowds aren’t a problem so these statistics don’t phase you. Instead, the only numbers you’re worrying about are those that will appear on your credit card. Winter is an increasingly popular time to travel, and in some cases, it’s being favoured over the traditional summer vacation. A lot of hotels and resorts will hike up their prices and, of course, airlines will try and squeeze as much money from you as possible. Yet, July and August remain the most expensive times to go to these top destinations.

Also, Christmas is creeping up on us and if you haven’t booked your flights and accommodation yet, you could find yourself paying much more than those who booked in advance. Lucky for you, we have a solution.


Is a last-minute Christmas vacation possible?

Yes! You can still book your Christmas getaway without having to pay through the nose for your tickets. If you go to the marketplace, there are currently a huge number of listings specifically during the holiday season. Whatever you’re looking for, there’s someone listing it: from flights to Berlin and Prague, to cruises in the Bahamas, to luxurious experiences in Thailand.

Every single listing is put up by a real person who can’t use their booking anymore. They researched, planned and booked months in advance, so they secured it at the early bird price. You don’t have to worry about finding the right hotel because they’ve done that for you, plus you won’t be paying the last-minute price. The reason they can’t use it is often due to an unfortunate, unforeseeable situation, such as a breakup or medical issue. Considering this is the time for giving, imagine if you could make someone’s day by getting some of their money back on their non-refundable booking.

Cheap travel plans at last-minute to somewhere new and exciting, and the feel-good factor of helping someone out: what more could you ask for this Christmas?


close up of Christmas tree bauble


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Posted 7 December 2018

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