It is a fine art that is mastered by many few: packing to go home for the Christmas holidays. The textbooks to be lugged across the country, the clothing supply list to make sure you’ve got enough socks when you return, and those pesky forgettable objects that you’ll kick yourself for if they’re forgotten. The thought of arriving home and being reunited with our families is always thrilling, especially at this time of year when everything grows festive, but the preparation to even set off itself can be daunting. Travel, packing, work, deadlines, making sure your flat or house is all locked up, being an adult. It’s a lot, but it can be a breeze when simplified.
By the time this issue comes out, it’ll be a week until classes finish for Christmas. If you’re travelling home by public transport, please book your ticket now if you don’t want to sacrifice your soul to Network Rail any time soon. Tickets in the festive season rocket in price, so the sooner you can book your seat on a journey home the better.
The recipe for surviving the sardine-packed Christmas travel dash will need:
- 1 x Patient Human
- 1 x Phone
- 1 x Earphones, to block out the commuters and disappear into Christmas music, heavy metal etc
- 1 x Charger, or Portable Charger (TIP: Book a seat next to a plug socket, if not, a portable charger will be your new best friend)
- 1 x Reading Material that isn’t your phone! Make the most of what could be many hours travelling and read the book you’ve been dying to read! A newspaper; a magazine; the crossword section! Reading soothes the mind and clears room for escapism – maximise its magic.
- Food – depending on what time of day you’re travelling, you’ll need different things, but the general gist here is that without fail you’re going to get hungry. Whilst sugar might be tempting, pack something that is going to provide a slow release of energy, so you don’t feel awful after the sugar high e.g., fruit, porridge, etc. TIP: pack your lunch rather than buying it. The prices of train trolley food are incomprehensible and will leave you reeling like the Grinch at Christmas, so just say no when a trolley cart passes in an attempt to lure in the weak. The same can be said for train station cafes. They know you’re going to want something, anything, to eat, so the prices are bumped up that little bit more, making something that would be £1 anywhere else cost £2.50 – not a lot in perspective but it adds up fast. Instead, don’t throw away your leftovers – save them for your trip! A tupperware and cutlery are all you need to make this a healthy, cost-effective, travel meal.
- Drinks – Water is an absolute must when travelling long distances. The heat of public transport, along with the raucous sound of those around you are enough to give anyone a headache, so along with this, be sure to have some paracetamol too!
- Your RAILCARD! If you forget everything else, just remember this! If you’ve booked your travel tickets with a railcard discount, without the railcard to prove your eligibility your tickets are redundant, meaning you’ll be charged a full fare on the spot. Perhaps not the nicest start to a Christmas holiday.
If you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, be sure to pack any presents you’ve bought for your friends and family back home! We all want to gift the most meaningful gifts to those we love, but they can’t always be the largest when you’re travelling home. If this is the case and you’ve bought things already, pack them tightly in your luggage, using bubble wrap if needed. If anything needs to be bought online, have it delivered to your home address to save you lugging it back on a cramped coach or train. The same applies for breakables. Don’t buy them in Bangor, because nothing says Merry Christmas like smashed glass pierced throughout your laundry.
Ensure everything, including that extension lead that you can’t be bothered ever unplugging, is off at the mains. You don’t want to be returning to find your belongings barbequed. Ensure you’ve got your keys ready and lock all windows, having ventilated all the rooms well beforehand.
If you’re living in private accommodation, inform your landlord of your pending absence. Even if they haven’t prompted you, for the security of the property they’ll expect you to be in touch with any information about how long you’ll be away for. Bins are a minefield to navigate too, but they’ve got to be done. Any good landlord will take them out for you whilst you’re away, but just in case, have every cleaning product known to man at the ready in January, because let’s just say that student bins can grow… pungent…
With these tips in mind and bags all packed and ready to go, sit back, relax, and have a very Merry Christmas!