It really will be a Christmas like no other, won’t it? And, as much as we’re all looking forward to seeing the back of 2020, Christmas is traditionally a time for getting together with loved ones, so there’s reason for cheer before 2021 is rung in. For Irish people, that often means ‘driving home for Christmas’ from wherever in the country we currently live. This year, that drive home has added poignancy for many, as travel restrictions designed to control the spread of the coronavirus have meant less opportunity to see friends and family than usual throughout the year.
Lifted restrictions for Christmas
As of December 18, the restrictions on travel have been lifted, and you’re now free to go outside your own county with no limitations. The government and public health guidelines still remain in place, of course, with regards to limiting social contacts and maintaining distance and rigid hygiene measures. Hence, if you’re planning on using public transport for getting home this Christmas, bear in mind that you will have to wear a face covering and, due to capacity reduced to 50 per cent (to make more space for social distancing), it’s highly advisable to book ahead.
Before you go
Whether you’re using a train, bus or your own car, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what you’ll need to bring for the journey, other than your toothbrush and wrapped gifts, obviously. Even if you’re driving home, make sure you have a few face coverings in the car to use when needs be, plus a bottle of hand sanitiser. Perhaps make yourself a packed lunch and snacks at home to avoid having to use busy roadside services on the way, too. And don’t forget your phone charger.
Prepare your car
Having your car in tip-top shape before any long journey is advisable, but this year more than ever you don’t want to be stuck at the side of the road awaiting rescue. If your car is due a service, get it done well in advance of your drive home. If not, you can take 10 minutes to check its oil, coolant and wiper fluid levels, then that all its lights are working as expected and that the tyres are in good condition. Check their pressures, too, as low temperatures will bring them down. Correctly inflated tyres help with safety and fuel economy. Speaking of which, fill up your tank locally at a relatively quiet filling station rather than relying on the motorway outlets, which are likely to be congested.
Think of the kids
If you have kids with you on the journey, load the car with snacks that are not too laden with sugar and lots of distractions, whether you have your own favourite family car journey games or you rely on electronic devices. A few extra pillows or blankets can add to comfort levels, too.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to go the toilet before you leave the house…