21 December 2012

Festive M8, your local mate in the UK : Our tips for Christmas travel

We’ve reached the final countdown before Christmas and for most of us, that means lots of shopping, partying and….travel. With temperatures dropping, traffic threatening gridlock and stations increasingly looking like packed cans of sardines, getting from A to B – whether driving or traveling as a passenger by bus or train – can quickly turn into a stressful experience for you and all those around you.

Here are our top tips for making sure travelling at Christmas doesn’t dampen the UK’s festive cheer!

1. Plan your journey

Those of you travelling by plane, train or public automobile (bus): Give friends and family your ticket and journey details. This makes it easier for them to seek information if there are any delays, and you never know, they may take the opportunity to surprise you by coming to the station to collect and bring you home – hurrah! Let’s face it, a welcome party is certain to get you in the Christmas spirit and start your holidays with a great feeling!

Drivers: Plan your route and get organised in terms of navigation. An accurate sat nav system seems a more sensible idea nowadays rather than relying on companions who’ll no doubt crumble under the pressure, or having to pull in to the hard shoulder every ten minutes to wrestle with a crumpled up map.

Obviously we would recommend our M8, a great sat nav app on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry Touch! Being a mobile app – so you’ll always have it on you – M8 helps you negotiate tricky traffic with up to date traffic news, potential shortcuts and alerts for speed cameras, while providing turn by turn navigation and maps that are full of local content and recommendations. (Please excuse the blatant plug!)

2. Leave enough time

Not leaving enough time when travelling by car causes stress, speeding and arguments – a dangerous combination. For other Christmas travellers, leaving yourself short of time is just as threatening. Having to rush through crowds carrying too much luggage whilst wearing too many clothes may cause you to faint or do yourself another injury. Also, it’s not a good look for anyone, and escalates into a thoroughly stressful experience that will swiftly quash any feeling of festive cheer you might have had. So to reiterate, avoid a last minute desperate panic a la the McCallisters in Home Alone, make sure you have ample time to travel.

3. Watch your speed

On the roads, on the pavements, on station platforms – be aware of your speed and the speed of those travelling around you. Don’t act like Lewis Hamilton on the roads, and don’t dawdle in the pavement – both are irritating and create unnecessary stress.

4. Prepare for adverse weather

Not only does adverse weather make driving conditions dangerous, it can cause horrendous travel delays.

Pop an emergency kit covering passengers and cars in the boot of the car. For passengers include water, blankets, food and games for kids, and safeguard your car by keeping a shovel, spare tyres, a torch, first aid kit and battery jump leads in good condition and ready for action during Christmas and throughout the winter months. With cars being more likely to breakdown in adverse weather – of course they are(!) – the fonts of knowledge over on Foxy Lady Drivers have some useful advice in the event your car packs up while en route.

5. Pack rations

Make sure you have enough food and drinks with you. Not only for those travelling by car in preparation of any long traffic queues, getting stuck in bad weather or breaking down, making sure you pack a decent picnic is crucial for all long journeys. Perfect for fending off boredom and hunger, tasty nibbles put you in the holiday mood! Be warned, however, that selection is key. No one wants to get food envy while sitting opposite someone who’s feasting on a well-thought-out hamper, so choose a good balance of savoury and sweet so you don’t get sick of any one thing!

6. Be courteous

Travelling home is a great chance to listen to music, read, sleep, watch movies, eat, and generally relax following what has been an undoubtedly hectic week of preparations and socialising. A word of advice from us here at M8: Consider your fellow travellers. They may not enjoy the sound of your slurping from a bottle of juice, or indeed being subjected to your latest soundcloud remix, muffled only slightly by your ear phones. Nor are they certain to see the funny side if you spend the entire trip from Edinburgh to Birmingham laughing hysterically at the latest Kevin Bridges show. Be mindful of others, and adjust your behaviour accordingly should you snort when laugh, or plan to take a picnic with a smell that may make people gag. Consider everything and ask yourself – will it prove offensive to the majority of passengers?

7. Don’t go M.I.A

All hosts at Christmas are in a slightly heightened state of panic trying to get everyone and everything organised. The last thing they need is to start worrying about people getting lost, missing planes or breaking down, so keep your iPhone, Android smartphone or BlackBerry device charged and keep them updated if anything sets you back. Also, keep your mobile phone on you so they can contact you if needed.

And hey, if you’re on the train or in the airport, being able to lend a mobile phone charger may even act as an great ice breaker to start up a conversation with a poor damsel (or duke) in distress. Just sayin’…

8. Gauge your fellow passengers

This can be a stressful time and some people travelling over Christmas and New Year just want to relax…in their own company, and in silence. Others may want to begin the festivities early and are looking to strike up a new friendship. Don’t be offended if the person next to you doesn’t show any interest in the saga you went through to find your Granny the perfect set of bridge cards, nor react aggressively if they want to regale you with their Christmas family traditions. Respect that people are different and like to travel in their own little special way – everyone will then enjoy Christmas travelling a whole lot more.

Safe travelling folks, and remember to contact us on twitter @localm8 or over on our Facebook page!