Christmas travel: how will this year be different?

Maud Webster writes on the unique issues travel has to handle this year, as well as those issues it faces every year.

Maud Webster
16th November 2020

Even in the midst of the pandemic, the month of December will still see plenty of people shuttling around the country (and world), returning home or visiting family and friends. What’s different about travelling at this festive time, by comparison to the rest of the year?


It's predicted that the pandemic will slow travel trade down massively this festive season, irregardless of if we're still in lockdown or not. The government unveiled extensive (yet precarious) plans to deposit students back at their family homes for Christmas, but whether or not this will be u-turned or work in practice is to be discovered. Fewer families are anticipated to take (international) holidays. Travel operators in all forms have been financially hit hard this year, and the 2020 festive season will prove no different.


Train companies (like Eurostar) worldwide are less likely to offer discounts during December as they anticipate high ticket-sales anyway - so you can expect prices to be highest during this time by comparison to the rest of the year. However, price fluctuates little within the actual month itself: time of day is more important when you're considering your ticket price.

It's a bit of a myth that you can fly for cheap on Christmas Day. Jetting off on this day will cost you more than if you fly the day before, but is remarkably cheaper than days earlier in the week when, presumably, there's more demand as people want to spend more days with their family. Skyscanner found the most expensive day to fly to China, Italy, Thailand, India, UAE, Australia and the USA was the 20th, out of the 20th - 31st December period (though this was in 2015).


Whilst many families and individuals traditionally choose to spend the Christmas period away from home, this year we can expect the aviation industry to be hard-hit (no change from the rest of 2020) as numerous travel restrictions and uncertainty halt the appeal of international appeal. Perhaps, more people will choose to still stay away from home this year but chose breaks in England instead?

Can you travel on Christmas Day?

It depends on your mode of transport: coaches are still running, perhaps with slightly increased fares; at the time of writing, you can hoss on down to London (from Newcastle) from £38 on the 25th December.

Trains, on the other hand, don't offer a service on Christmas Day. If you're looking to fly, many plane operators still hold flights, but there's a reduced quantity of routes running, and you'll probably spend more money on your ticket.

Travel has completely changed during the chaos of 2020. But wherever you spend Christmas, I hope you have a great time and here's to wishing for a more normal 2021!

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AUTHOR: Maud Webster
(She / Her) Second-year Architecture & Planning student at Newcastle University, and arts sub-editor for the 20/21 academic year.

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