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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

It’s Friday afternoon, the last working day before Christmas and we can officially say that the Grand Christmas Exodus has begun. From the tweets and photos of train stations, airports and the M25, it’s safe to say that everyone is trying to get a head start but what you can expect is total gridlock.

An estimated 4 million Brits will take-off this year over the holidays to spend their Christmas and New Year’s celebrations abroad. Many are taking a full fortnight off to enjoy the holidays and this weekend you can expect delays, long queues and many a grumpy traveller despite the usually festive season.

Planes have been packed for days and London’s commuter trains have been unusually quiet. Briton has been getting out early it seems and making a run for it. Heathrow saw 119,000 passengers pass through its gates yesterday, an impressive increase of 18,000 compared to December 20th, 2011.

With a fire at Paddington Station today, trains to Heathrow and western England are mainly cancelled. Not a great start! If you are travelling today, this weekend or all during the holidays here are a few things to keep in mind.

Leave your gifts unwrapped


If you’re taking off on a cheap flight home or to an exotic destination and will be taking gifts with you, pack them unwrapped in your luggage in case something grabs the attention of security. Either travel with wrapping paper with you or just pick some up when you arrive. This is also true if you’re travelling with little treats and gifts in your carry-on luggage.

Go to the airport EXTRA early

No one could have predicted that all of the trains from Paddington Station would be cancelled today, putting massive pressure on the Tube to get to Heathrow. Allow yourself not only extra time at the airport to get through check-in and security but also extra time just to get to the airport.

Treat yourself to the airport lounge


It’s the holidays. You’re tired, likely a bit stressed out and just want to get to wherever you plan on going. This is the time when flights are most likely to be cancelled or delayed and we promise you’re more likely to get better service if you’re in the airline’s lounge than waiting at the gate. Splurge a little and enjoy the complimentary eggnog and mince pies, maybe even a nap, while you wait to be called for your flight.

7 best airport lounges in the world

Be nice

Easy, right? A smile and a kind demeanour goes a long way at this time of the year, especially at the airports when staff are doing their very best. It’s not the flight attendants fault that your aircraft hasn’t arrived yet or isn’t ready for boarding. Patience and a “I know you’re doing your best.” is a great way to start.

Will you be travelling this Christmas?

Imgs: matte4president, garryknight / Flickr cc.

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