It may be too soon to talk about Christmas, but it’s never too early to talk about Christmas travel.
Whether you are flying off to Frankfurt or making your way over to Milan, December is the busiest travel period of the year.
Travel Editor with the Irish Independent, Pól Ó Conghaile, said things have improved since the summer.
However, he told The Pat Kenny Show there are still some unknowns.
“It’s certainly improved since the summer of chaos that we’ve seen,” he said.
“The bank holiday, I suppose, was the most recent peak period; Dublin Airport saw about 350,000 passengers go through.
“There were queues and so on, but nothing like what we saw last May.
“Another thing to note it’s parking completely sold out – so if you are going to be booking parking in busy times to come definitely do that in advance, or get a lift.”
Pól said the Christmas travel season is “looming like an iceberg on the horizon” for Dublin Airport.
“Outside of the peak months of June and July, that is really when the numbers swell,” he said.
“We have already seen London Heathrow, for example, warning that it may have to reintroduce a cap on passenger numbers.
“People are kind of looking at it with trepidation because, though they have ironed out a lot of the problems, there’s still the underlying issues of staffing and so on do still exist out there in the industry”.
Christmas markets in Europe
For those who are travelling this festive season, Pól said earlier travel will mean better savings.
“These markets kick off at the end of November, often running through to Christmas Eve or even into early January,” he said.
“If you can travel during the school term – and particularly midweek – I’ve been pricing trips to places like Poland or Germany, particularly lesser-known cities [and] for a night or two, they start from as little as €130 per person for the flights and the hotel.
“It just goes to show you that if you can be flexible, you can get the bargains.”
He said travel agents could be best placed for this.
“Have a look at travel agents for these, unless of course you want to book your own hotel and flights or an Airbnb,” he said.
“Irish agents like Click & Go, Travel Department, Abbey Travel, Cassidy and so on will all package up these offers quite neatly”.
What is Pól’s top Christmas destination?
“I love Krakow – the main square is just like a fairytale with the tower in the middle of it and the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves around you and the smell of the gluhwein from the stalls and the roasting chestnuts.
“They put a big emphasis on the hand-made toys – I’ve never actually filled my suitcases with these things, but I just love being surrounded by that kind of culture.
“You know the same guys have been in the same stall for generations making these things,” he added.
His other top destinations for Christmas include Budapest and Prague.
Main image: People at Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 arrivals during the Christmas holiday season in 2017. Picture by: David Ribeiro / Alamy Stock Photo