Travelling at Christmas: an expat guide [10 top tips]

Whether you’ve booked your move abroad for the holiday season, or are looking forward to coming back to the UK for Christmas, there are several  considerations for yuletide travel that will help things go smoothly at the airport and beyond.

Notify your bank

Your bank may interpret overseas charges as suspicious activity and deactivate your card. Prevent this by letting them know when you’ll be overseas.

Don’t forget your essential documents

Make absolutely sure you and your family have your passports, booking confirmation, travel insurance details and visas before travelling.

Keep presents unwrapped

Wrapped Christmas presents arouse suspicion, so keep them unwrapped and make sure they comply with the airline’s usual security and weight restrictions.

Keep liquid gifts in your hold luggage

Liquids in hand luggage carry a weight limit of 100ml, so most liquid presents will need to be kept in your hold luggage. If you do take liquids with you on the plane, make sure they are sealed in a small, transparent plastic bag.

Reconsider taking Christmas crackers

Most airlines have at least some restrictions on Christmas crackers, and some ban them completely. Better to leave them out of your luggage and purchase them in your destination country.

Check decorations before packing decorations

Christmas decorations made of organic material, such as pine cones, aren’t allowed into certain countries. Australia is particularly strict, prohibiting all foreign flora from entering their country to protect its environment.

Pack bags in layers

Packing in layers (e.g. a layer of clothing, followed by a layer of books then a layer toiletries) is much easier for security to interpret in their scanners than a hodgepodge of items, so will likely get you through screening much quicker.

Be ready to unpack your hand luggage

Pack electronics and sealed liquids at the top of your hand luggage so you can access them quickly and place everything in the screening trays.

Prepare for local weather

Choose a travel outfit that can be easily adapted to the local weather forecast. Pack any extra layers in your carry-on, or ensure they’re easily accessible from your main luggage.

Plan your onward journey

Pre-book any onward public transport well in advance. If driving, familiarise yourself with your route and plan rest stops for journeys longer than two hours. Use a satnav or smartphone app with rerouting options in case of traffic.


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