The winter season is just around the corner and if your holiday plans include traveling, you better watch out because soon there’s going to be magic and mayhem in the air.
With Halloween and most of the fall fun already in the rear-view mirror, we are now in the fast lane to the winter season, and you probably already know what this means: glittering Christmas markets, gift-giving, carol-singing, parties, winter sports, plenty of festive cheer and obviously lots of travel waiting just a few hops away.
We can almost feel the excitement and anticipation for the holidays building up with Mariah Carey’s classic anthem All I Want for Christmas playing in the background and people getting their travel bucket lists ready for the holidays.
But winter travel, as thrilling and fun as it might be, also comes with a unique set of challenges due to unpredictable weather conditions, overcrowded airports and the general chaos that ensues around this time.
So, if you too are planning to hit the road this winter and you want to make sure that the holiday season is indeed going to be the most wonderful time of the year, here’s what you should keep in mind while planning your trip.
Keep a close eye on the weather forecast
As we’ve already mentioned, the cold season often brings a variety of adverse weather extremes, so instead of a winter wonderland you might get a nightmare before Christmas if you leave at the wrong time. Phenomena like freezing temperatures, frost, heavy snow, strong winds, blizzards, or ice storms can create harsh travel conditions and disrupt your holiday plans.
You have to be aware of the hazards of winter travel, with the risk of traffic accidents, hypothermia and frostbite being high. Since you can’t control Mother Nature, the least you can do is stay informed and check the weather conditions before you depart. If the forecast is not favourable, it might be best to postpone your trip and stay home.
In Norway, there’s a popular weather-related saying: There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. And they’re absolutely right. With the right clothes and suitable gear, you’ll have no issue dealing with the elements.
So, if you’ve done your homework and know what kind of weather to expect on the road and at your destination(s), you need to pack the right clothes and dress appropriately for the conditions. For the chilly winter weather, it’s recommended to pack items that you can layer so you can stay warm and comfortable and adapt your outfits to the changing temperatures more easily. Also, if you plan to engage in winter sports, make sure you’re wearing adequate gear before you get into action.
Make travel arrangements in advance
The winter holidays are an extremely busy period for travel companies and all tourist-related services. Given that prices change based on demand, if you leave everything to the last minute, you risk spending a lot more money on airfare and accommodation or even coming across fully booked hotels and flights.
You’ll find much better deals and stress less if you plan ahead and start making travel arrangements well in advance. If you’re flying off an airport that is busy all year round like Heathrow, you might also want to look into booking Heathrow parking to make your trip go smoother.
Opt for direct flights
If you’re a frequent flyer, you probably know that connecting flights are generally cheaper than direct flights. This might prompt you to opt for the first and sacrifice convenience in order to stretch your holiday budget further.
However, this might not be the wisest approach in wintertime. With weather disruptions being more common during the cold season, the chances of flight cancellations and delays are higher than usual, so you might remain stranded in the airport for hours and even days if your connection gets cancelled. It’s therefore best to search for nonstop routes instead, even if you’ll have to pay a bit more. But at least you’ll save time and enjoy peace of mind.
Search for less busy airports
Although the holidays equate to congested travel hubs, you might be able to sidestep the tourist buzz or at least deal with smaller crowds by choosing to fly off a smaller nearby airport. Most people tend to default to main airports, without even giving secondary routes a thought.
So, instead of following the crowd, you can search for less-busy airports that aren’t swamped with tourists and won’t wear you out as much. And if you want to get from point A to point B conveniently, making use of services like Parkos and choosing morning departures can also be of great help.
Choose off-the-beaten-path travel destinations
On the same line, you have better chances of circumventing tourist traps and enjoying a more authentic travel experience if you choose less popular destinations. It might be hard to resist the temptation of travelling to big cities like Paris or Vienna for the holidays, but there are plenty of other wonderful winter destinations that don’t get nearly as much foot traffic but can offer equally amazing experiences.
Apart from a more relaxed and peaceful atmosphere, going off the beaten path and exploring places that most tourists don’t know about will also help you save time and money, which is a great bonus considering winter holidays tend to be quite taxing.
If seeing more of the world and travelling to new places is on your wish list this year, you better start preparing right away because time is ticking away. Hopefully, these travel tips will come in handy and help you make this winter season the best one yet.