Make it home for Christmas by avoiding these holiday pitfalls

Make it home for Christmas by avoiding these holiday pitfalls

Many of us are now winding down with time off over Christmas on our minds. But there are still some business travellers on the road or about to take to the air to get that last bit of work in for the year. 

And while travelling for work before Christmas might be unavoidable, it can be risky if you’ve got big holiday plans waiting for you at home.

We spoke with Melanie Doyle, Corporate Travel Manager at Flight Centre Business Travel’s George St, Brisbane, office, to find out how to avoid common holiday season travel pitfalls and save extra time so you can spend it with your loved ones instead.

Colleagues waiting at airport for boarding

Avoid flight delays (as much as you can)

Santa might be cleared to fly, but that doesn't mean you always will be. Flight delays at this time of year are both the fear and very real nightmare for many travellers. And while delays are out of your control, there are some things you can do to reduce the impact they have on you.

“Avoid the 5pm flight home, because it is always so busy. Instead, aim for earlier, like the 3pm or 4pm flight, which will be less busy. And because delays push everything back, you’re more likely to still make it home earlier than those who’ve booked later flights,” says Melanie.

And book with an airline who has multiple flights running on your route. This way, if your flight is cancelled, it’s more likely that your travel manager can get you on another flight with the airline as soon as possible.

Man packing a suitcase in hotel room

Avoid staying overnight

One of the most obvious tips to reducing your time away on a work trip is to just do day trips rather than drawing it out overnight. Early morning and late evening flights are busier (see tips above) so try to work your flights around your meetings or commitments and look at red-eye flights if necessary.

And while day trips might help you get home earlier, they'll also save your hip pocket, which during the holiday season, is almost as important.

“If you can, avoid paying for accommodation, especially in the major cities where it can cost over $500 per night in the week before Christmas. Sydney, Melbourne and even Brisbane are more expensive to stay in the city during the week than on the weekends, so if you’ve got a mid-week trip, try to make it there and back in a day if you can,” says Melanie.

Of course, if you have to stay overnight, then do so; there’s still accommodation available, it will just come at a price.

Luggage in airport

Avoid getting stuck in the baggage queue

They might seem irrelevant in the grand scheme of your travel schedule, but the few minutes either side of your transit can add up when you’ve got somewhere to be. Melanie’s tip is to travel light.

“If you can travel light, then do. It makes sense to take carry on; you don’t have to wait in line to check a bag or wait at baggage claim with everyone else when you touch down,” says Melanie.

If Santa can carry gifts for the whole world in his sack, then surely you can travel with carry on. Check Qantas and Virgin Australia’s carry on policies for how much they allow per passenger.

man standing on curb waiting for a business car

Avoid waiting around for ground transport

Despite landing in your destination city, you’re not quite there yet. You still have to navigate ground transport to get you into the city. Rather than joining the taxi or Uber queues with every other business and leisure traveller, check to see if there’s a bus or train that will get you into the city faster.

“Traffic in the major cities can be so congested at times that it’s sometimes quicker to jump on the Sydney or Brisbane train or Melbourne Skybus rather than wait in line for an Uber, which can take up to 30 minutes,” says Melanie.

You can plan this ahead of time and go straight to the platform or check out the timetable and make the call if you're staring down a long wait in a queue.

Have a Merry Christmas!

If you’re doing a last-minute dash to another city to wrap up some work for 2019, don’t get caught up in the hustle and bustle of airport queues and miss your chance to get home sooner. Avoid the pitfalls and have a Merry Christmas.

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