Woohoo, it’s the December Holidays!
If you’re crossing off days on your calendar and counting down to your long-awaited December holiday, you’re not alone. For most Singaporeans (i.e. overworked adults and post-exam students), the year-end is the time to pack up and disappear from their responsibilities. It’s when kids get a break from school, and parents are clearing their annual leave for a well-deserved family vacation.
Of course, we all know that it’s also the most popular (read: most hectic) travel season of all time. Flight prices are at an all-time high, and if you didn’t plan this months ahead, you probably already missed all the good deals. And that’s just the beginning. When you get to your dream destination, you’ll have to jostle with crowds, get stuck in traffic, and stand hours in line waiting for everything and anything.
But travelling during peak seasons doesn’t have to be a nightmare. By making some minor tweaks to your travel plans, you can still enjoy your holiday without getting that postcard-perfect shot photobombed by throngs of other tourists.
Here are our top 10 tips for travelling this December holidays
(… or any other peak season)
#1 Wake up early
For many tourists, there’s nothing more shiok than to sleep in. Take advantage of this and wake up several hours earlier than you typically would while on holiday. We recommend reaching your first spot by sunrise, because not only is it less crowded, but it’s also one of the “Golden Hours” that’s great for photos.
The days are shorter during Winter, so waking up early is no big deal. You can rest in the evening!
#2 Choose your accommodation carefully
There are perks to staying in the heart of the city: You can probably catch a bus or train out, and you’d have the convenience of grocery stores and pharmacies. BUT you’re also likely to get caught in heavy traffic jams and have to pay a premium price for food and other necessities.
If the thought of that irks you, consider spending a night or two in the suburb. It’ll be less crowded, and you may not need to take the main roads (which usually have tolls) to get around.
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#3 Just get your travel insurance
There’s never a good reason to skip travel insurance, and December is no exception. In fact, it may well be the reason for the rule! Due to the sheer volume of travellers that airlines, airports, and other tourist-related industries have to deal with, the chances of accidental mess-ups are inevitably higher. Think overbooked flights and damaged and/or lost luggage—without travel insurance, these mishaps can be very expensive to resolve! (Read also: 7 Expensive Travel Mistakes You Must Avoid (Solutions Included!) & Travel #Adulting: Must I Really Buy Travel Insurance?)
Ready to get covered for your upcoming trip? Introducing HyfeAssure, the latest travel insurance by Changi Recommends, which offers over-the-counter cash claims (up to $200) at Changi Airport. For a limited time only, get 50% discount with code “50OFF”. For more information, visit the official HyfeAssure website.
#4 Introducing Crowd Calendars
If you’ve never heard of these, it’s time to get Googling! Mostly for popular theme parks like Universal Studios and Disneyland, these crowd calendars show a crowd forecast of which days are less busy and hence better to visit. Most of them use data based on travellers’ feedback on their previous experience so it’s not 100 percent accurate, but hey, some information is better than none right? (Read also “Cut Queue” For Free With Disneyland Fastpass!)
#5 Walk “the other way”
And in the case of theme parks, that means counter-clockwise! Several studies suggest that park goers most commonly explore parks in a clockwise direction, so by going the other way, you’re less likely to be faced with a crowd. (Read also Ocean Park: 9 Must-Read Travel Hacks & Theme Park Showdown: Lotte World VS Everland)
#6 Give an extra hour of buffer time for travelling
Sometimes, try as hard as you may, you just can’t avoid bad traffic. Or maybe it’s bad even when it’s less congested than usual. Either way, it can’t hurt to always schedule an extra hour or two for the road. If traffic is smooth, you get extra time at your destination; if you get stuck in a jam, you’ll be thankful you set aside extra time for it.
This is especially important when planning your route to the airport or to catch inter-city trains—you don’t want to miss your ride and spoil your plans!
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#7 Buy whatever you can online, in advance
The last thing you want is to show up at the attraction and be turned away because a) you don’t have time to queue, or b) they’re out of tickets for the day. So if you can, be sure to book your attraction tickets and passes online first. Many theme parks and museums have e-tickets obtainable either via their website or authorised third-party retailers. These are the most convenient (no need to queue, just scan and go!) and typically cheaper than they would be if you purchased them at the door.
Bonus tip: Some theme parks sell a limited number of tickets per day, so if you’re too far behind in the ticket queue, you may not even get in. Instead of risking it, you can get open-dated tickets online via Changi Recommends (available for Disneyland, Universal Studios, Ocean Park, and more!).
#8 Check online if there are alternate entrances into the attractions
Some attractions have side gates and entrances that few know about! So before heading anywhere, you could save yourself some queuing time by finding out if there is more than one entrance into the attraction. For example, the Louvre in Paris always has a snaking queue outside its main doors at Pyramid. However, if you go by the side entrance at Porte des Lions, you’re likely to get in within minutes.
#9 Go further in
Most tourists are running on tight schedules (especially those on packaged tours), and don’t have the luxury of time to fully explore each place. So if you can afford the time, take advantage of this and simply walk (or drive) a little further in before stopping for photos.
#10 Opt for an off-the-beaten-track itinerary
If you really want to avoid crowds and are looking for a more unique holiday, why not plan an off-the-beaten-track itinerary? Think rustic countrysides and the outskirts of bustling cities. Who knows? You may even get a more authentic experience mingling with the locals! You can always go back to see the more popular and iconic landmarks during off-peak seasons.
At the end of the day, just chill lah.
We’ll be honest. There’s no surefire way to stamp-plus-chop confirm that you won’t run into bad traffic and rowdy crowds. So if even after all that planning you still get held up on your holiday, then just relax, and treat it as part of the experience. Don’t let it ruin your mood!
Got any other advice on how to siam the crowds? Share it with us in the comments below!
Ready to embark on your adventure?
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