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Top tips for travelling over Christmas and New Year

Lorna Cowan / 23 December 2014

Read our top tips for travelling over Christmas and the New Year, including where to get the best up-to-date travel information.

Motorway at night
Plan your journey over the Christmas and New Year holiday

Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends and that often means travelling around the country and sharing the roads, airports, trains and buses with hundreds of other people who are also on their way to see loved ones. Don’t fret this festive season if you’re out and about, just follow our top tips and enjoy a Merry Christmas.

Travelling by car at Christmas and New Year

Regardless of the distance you’ve to drive, make sure your car has petrol, you have de-icer handy and you’ve filled up with windscreen washer before you start packing the car with passengers or parcels. No one wants to begin the journey waiting at the local garage.

Check the weather forecast a few days before you set off. You’ll find a five-day forecast, with visibility details, from the Met Office. If there is a risk of ice or snow, seek advice from the AA or RAC. Travel may not be recommended except in an emergency.

Wise winter drivers pack food and warm clothing (and sensible footwear) in the car with them. Don’t forget a spade.

Keep ahead of the Christmas and New Year traffic

Plan your journey in advance, even if it’s one you are familiar with, and remember roads are often busier than usual, especially on Christmas Eve. Other drivers may have had that ‘great idea’ too and decided to leave early/late to avoid the rush.

Visit the AA Routeplanner to find information about any road works planned, as well as incidents and delays as they happen. The site also gives you details about queuing traffic. Or go to BBC Motorways Traffic News for live reports and severity ratings.

Keep the radio on for regular Christmas traffic updates.

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Travelling by plane at Christmas and New Year

If you’ve an internal flight to catch, or you’re escaping to warmer climes, check in online as soon as you can. Airports see a significant increase in passenger numbers at Christmas and New Year, so give yourself plenty of time to get to the terminal, and get through security checks. Don’t pack liquid gifts in your hand luggage, and check with your airline if you want to take crackers or party poppers.

Keep an eye on weather forecasts and regularly look at your airline and airport websites if you anticipate problems. If your flight has been cancelled before you set off to the airport, you may be advised to stay at home and wait for updates.

Travelling by train or bus at Christmas and New Year

Although many of us travel by train over Christmas and New Year, rail companies see a reduction in commuters so plan track work at this time, leaving routes disrupted and stations closed – no trains will be stopping at London Bridge for 16 days. For a summary of services running throughout the UK, visit National Rail. There’s also info about timetable changes and planned disruptions.

Transport for London has a section on their site about festive travel in and around London – just click on a date and the relevant travel news appears. Roads will be closed for the New Year’s Day Parade.

If you’re travelling by coach, National Express is a comprehensive site that will answer all your queries.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.