For the first time since 2010, I will not be flying home for Christmas. I won’t be making the long and arduous journey from one end of the world to the other. This Christmas, I have no 14 hour flights or 12 hour layovers, and it’s a relief.
Despite the challenge that flying from the bottom to the top of the globe presents, flying home for Christmas is not without its upsides. There is something special about undertaking such a journey, knowing that your loved ones, a cold Christmas, and all the lights and magic that goes along with it is waiting for you at the other side.
There is also something to be said about giving yourself such an unpleasant challenge. It makes the reward all the more sweet.
So if you are a budget traveller about to embark on a two day journey to reach your home for Christmas, worry not. All you have to do is channel through this voyage, and reap the yuletide rewards of a traditional Christmas.
Here are a few tips for flying home for Christmas, to help keep you from depleting your Christmas spirit reserves.
- Follow my usual flying guide, and pack your flying essentials in your hand luggage. I’m talking moisturiser, an eye mask, ear plugs and drug of your choice for my fellow insomniacs, and a change of top, socks and a scarf for everyone.
- Bring snacks- preferably holiday-themed. While plane food has come a long way (Thank you KLM!), they can’t be relied on to keep you suitably chocolated for the duration of your trip. A family sized bar of chocolate (Whittaker’s for when flying from NZ, and Cadburys from AU) will work wonders for your sanity. I also like to pack a museli bar and some chewy sweets.
- Medicinal wine is perfectly fine. Okay, so it’s no mulled wine, but a drink with dinner and maybe one for when you’re trying to sleep is a good idea. So long as you compensate by drinking loads and loads of those tiny cups of water. When you’re three hours into an eight hour layover in KL, you’ll thank yourself.
- If possible, pre-load your laptop/ipad with a few Christmas movies, ideally something like Home Alone or Planes Trains and Auotmobiles so you can relate to Christmas-time travel. I was sorely disappointed with the movie selections on my last commute home.
- During your long layover, do some shopping. If you still have people to buy Christmas presents for, why not carry some extra money so you can maybe pick up some duty free on the way home? I’m not talking airport souvenirs here, you can buy discounted perfume and beauty products. KL airport has a Victoria’s Secret and a Lonely Planet shop, so it is possible to pick up something different. I once picked up a gift for myself (classy, I know!) when I saw an amazing deal on a Lancomé mascara. It felt nice to treat myself with something I’d never normally buy.
- When you’ve time to kill, kill it with a sugary holiday drink! One part of long layovers I look forward to is reuniting myself with a Christmas themed drink, or caramel frappe in Starbucks, or Coffee Bean. Yes, soulless coffee chains are all kinds of bad, but hey, you’re stuck in airport purgatory for the foreseeable future, so you might as well distract yourself.
- Still bored? Make a list! To really get yourself all jacked up on Christmas fever, why not make out a list of gifts you have to buy, or Christmas-themed things you can’t wait to do once you get home. Last year, I wrote a list of all the Christmas things I had to do when I got home, and called it ‘Operation Christmas Cheer,’ sad, I know, but it made me even more excited to get home to my friends, family, Christmas markets, Christmas food and Christmas festivities!
- For all the bloggers out there, now is the perfect time to catch up on all those posts you’ve been meaning to write. Or how about all those photos you’ve been meaning to sort out?…….If that doesn’t get you excited, don’t worry – you can blame the different time zones and being sleep-deprived for messing with your worth ethic, that’s what I did!
- If you’re really desperate, there’s always the airport lounges to consider. Last year, Sean offered to treat me to one on the way home, but I didn’t take him up on the offer until the way back, when I was so tired I thought I’d fall into a coma and miss my flight.Trust me, there’s nothing like a bit of luxury (and the ability to actually wash yourself) to make you feel all festive.
- If you’re still struggling to keep your sanity, just picture the familiar sights of your hometown airport, all decked out in its Christmassy finery, and the refreshing hit of lovely freezing air that will hit the back of your throat as you step off the plane.
When I – finally – land in Amsterdam airport, the smell of winter and the sight of the tree below nearly makes me burst into tears of joy!
Have you ever made a long journey yo get home for Christmas? What are your tips for surviving those really long flights and layovers?