How to travel smarter this winter

Successful winter travel is all about successful navigation of winter weather. We want all our guests to get to and from their destinations with minimum trouble and maximum enjoyment – and, most importantly, to always arrive safe and sound, no matter what sort of snow, ice, sleet, or freezing rain you may encounter.

And there are several means of transport that’ll get you from A to B, all with their own individual perks. With that in mind (and plenty more ‘Beast from the East’ rumours circulating), here are some winter travel tips and tactics to help you make the most of the season.

On the road

If you’re hitting the road this winter, put some extra clothing and emergency items into the boot of your car. These will come in handy if you break down in cold weather. It doesn’t take much, just assemble a basic kit and you’ll thank yourself later.

Pack a pair of gloves, weather-resistant trousers and/or coat, maybe an old pair of boots, a blanket, jumper cables, a torch with some extra batteries and a windscreen scraper (and maybe some de-icer spray), and you should be ready to take on the elements. You might also want to pack a few nutrition bars as well; those things won’t spoil until the next millennium, are packed with calories, and can bail you out when hunger strikes.

If you’re driving to your destination and thinking of where to leave your vehicle, our Grassmarket hotel in Edinburgh has a partially covered car park, the Dundee and Haymarket hotels have outside car parks, and when staying at our Glasgow hotel you’ll have access to a multi-storey car park at a discounted rate.

Check your car

Make sure your car is checked over for winter weather readiness. In particular, you or a mechanic should inspect the condition of your tires before the first bout of winter weather hits. A full winter service is essential before you set off on your journey. Other vital things to remember before setting off on your road trip are:

  • Check your car battery
  • Top up your engine coolant with antifreeze
  • Clean your lights
  • Wash your windscreen wipes
  • Check your breakdown cover

If you don’t feel confident making these checks, any garage should be able to help you out.

Be Flexible

While it’s good to have the majority of your trip planned out and booked in, it’s still worth keeping your itinerary flexible, especially when things happen that are out of your control. Our flexible rate offers guests the chance to cancel up to 2pm prior to the day of arrival – the first night’s stay value is then charged after this time. Our free cancellation offer only applies to new bookings and can’t be used in conjunction with any other offer.

On the rails

While it can be crowded everywhere during the winter holidays, travelling by train provides a welcome break from airport insanity, as well as traffic delays and associated safety concerns of both. Once you’re on board the train, you can enjoy spacious seating in standard class, or consider upgrading to first class for an even more comfortable experience.

And check-in at the station is relatively hassle-free, and doesn’t require long queuing and annoying security checks.

Train travel during the winter holiday season offers a considerably slower pace, with time to relax and see some picturesque sights as you ride toward your destination. You can travel between London and Edinburgh in just over four hours, and with trains running nearly every 30 minutes you’re never short of options – it tends to be the cheapest travel option, too.

It’s a also worth keeping your itinerary flexible, especially when things happen that are out of your control. Our flexible rate offers guests the chance to cancel up to 2pm prior to the day of arrival – the first night’s stay value is then charged after this time. Our free cancellation offer only applies to new bookings and can’t be used in conjunction with any other offer.

In the air

Christmas travel

If you’re flying to your destination, remember to be smart about what you’re taking with you. The annual Christmas gift wrapping rule: don’t wrap gifts – security will have to rip them open.

With security searching checked bags as well as carry-ons, this applies to all of your luggage, not just what you bring onto the plane with you. Consider sending your presents ahead of time or wrapping them once you get to your destination.

Arrive early

Icy road conditions as a result of weather mean potential delays as you travel to the airport, and you don’t want to arrive too late to check-in or be stuck in a line at security.

The cooler temperatures mean that everyone will be wearing more layers. This also means longer lines at security, as it will take each person a few minutes more than normal to get themselves — and all of their belongings — through the checkpoint.

Check-in online

Almost all airlines now allow online check-in — either through a website or an app — at least 24 hours before your flight time. You will be able to select your seat, pay any baggage fees, and provide contact information where you can be reached if there are any disruptions to your flight.

If you’ve packed your whole winter wardrobe and you still have to check a bag when you get to the airport, you should be able to skip the line and just drop it in a designated area. If not, checking in online allows you to skip the check-in lines altogether and head right for security when you arrive.

Check your flight status

Icy runways, blizzards, fog, freezing rain — there are so many winter-related events that can cause flight delays or cancellations. Avoid waiting at the airport, or arriving hours earlier for no reason, and check the status of your flight about an hour before you plan on leaving for the airport. Oh, and make sure you’ve remembered your passport before you set off!

It’s also important to get covered by travel insurance – there are plenty of reasonable rates out there. It’s winter – weather can wreak havoc on our plans, so it’s best to be covered for potential delays and cancellations – especially if you have flights or train tickets booked.

If you join us for a winter break at any of our hotels, make sure you share your stay with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.