As December approaches, families up and down the country are starting to admit defeat and Christmas preparations are beginning. The main issue for many can be where to spend the big day, and this can also be the source of many arguments too. Ever wished you could just jet away? It can be done. Approximately 2.5 million of UK residents flee the country for Christmas, opting for a change in scenery instead. And why not?
Christmas can be exhausting - why not enjoy it with your feet well and truly up for a change? And if you have children with you, here are some tips to help you make the most of your sneaky festive holiday. This is our quick guide to going away for Christmas.
boring bits practicalities
- Insurance! Please please don't forget this. It goes without saying really, but we'll say it anyway. Lots of people travel at Christmas because they want to see friends and family and so airports are very busy. Delays can happen and, sadly, holidays are also more expensive at Christmas. Make sure you're insured against anything ontoward. Lecture over.
Passports! Christmas travelling is big business, so make sure your passports are present and correct in good time for travelling. Passport offices are bound to be busy
at this time of year and the last thing you want to do is spend hours queuing when the kids are bouncing off the walls waiting to see Santa!
- Check medications. If you or your family takes any medication, make sure you have enough for your trip and make sure you pack lots of calpol too! The little sachets are perfect for travelling.
- Car seats. Make sure you have them on the other side, or take them with you if you can.
- Phone numbers! If you're away for the big day, family members will no doubt be delighted to hear your voice at the end of a phone, so make sure you take a list of phone numbers with you, and calling cards if needs be.
- Security. Ask a neighbour to keep an eye while you're away and leave a spare key with someone trusted too.
- Pack well. Nappies, wipes, first aid kit, change of clothes...
The magical details
Being away at Christmas will require some effort to make it magical for the children. They are away from their usual onslaught of Christmas television, their usual Christmas tree and maybe even their usual allocation of gifts too. Here are some tips for maintaining the magical bits while you're away:
- Santa. Send him a letter ahead of your trip, telling him where you will be and for how long. This will ease any fears that the big man won't be able to find you. Let the children help you to write the letter, and to pack the stockings too. Explain that Santa knows where all the children are and that they will not be forgotten!
- Sellotape and wrapping paper. If you haven't already wrapped, or if you intend to buy gifts while you're away, DON'T FORGET SELLOTAPE AND WRAPPING PAPER! Pack lots- there might not be any where you're going!
- Take a small piece of home with you. Some children find being away from home harder than others, and if you usually spend Christmas surrounded by family, then it might be harder than ever. Take a small reminder of home with you- perhaps a small Christmas tree (if you can!) or one or two favourite decorations from your tree at home. Advent calendars are also pretty easy to slip into suitcases and it goes without saying to bring a cherished toy too.
Plan some festive activities. Ahead of travelling, read up on what's going on where
you'll be so that you can keep the Christmas spirit alive wherever you are. If there isn't much going on, have a few ideas up your sleeve: take a few un-breakable Christmas decorations for a festive treasure hunt; take some Christmas books with you to enjoy bedtime stories with a festive feel; take some Christmas DVDs and a small DVD player, or download a couple of Christmas films to your tablet or phone; pack some tinsel and some Christmas CDs too.
- Take a map of the world with you. This can be a lovely activity to do online too. Show the children where home is, where you are now, and how far you travelled- show them where Santa travels too!
- Presents. Small gifts can be taken with you, but larger items are going to be difficult to pack. If you buy online, you can arrange to have gifts delivered straight to your holiday destination, but remember that you will need to bring them home again! Come to an agreement on this ahead of schedule- perhaps Santa will leave big presents behind for your return? This could be a wonderfully exciting end to your holiday as the children will look forward to returning home more than ever. Do make sure there are some presents though, as the children will expect something to open on the big day. Take a spare bag if you do get some gifts delivered to your holiday home and don't forget a note from Santa explaining where the big/ heavy gifts are!
- Christmas dinner. If you can, check before hand what the meal arrangements are for Christmas day. If not, try to make it as festive as you can. It doesn't have to be turkey- but try to take paper hats with you, pop on some Christmas music and make sure there is a festive film for afterwards!
Still need convincing?
Being away at Christmas does take a lot of planning but there is a real potential to make some long lasting and happy memories too. Being away from home forces many parents to put away the lap tops and phones and to relax more and being in a sunny climate helps you feel more happy and peaceful too. If you choose a holiday cottage or villa, you can make it your own during your stay and keep the festive spirit alive. If you're staying in a hotel, the chances are great that seasonal activities have been planned well too. But if you do want to simply get away from it all, you can do that too. Choose a location that will be quiet and make it as Christmassy as you like. Being away from the 'hype' at home might be just what you need to enjoy a relaxing break with the kids.