Top tips for Christmas market madness
Christmas markets are big news this winter, and according to christmasmarkets.com by the end of November, almost 300 Christmas markets will be open in 30 different countries including Prague, Budapest, Munich and more recently Vancouver, Toronto and Manhattan.
The inexorable rise of continental Christmas markets bring joy to thousands of Brits every year, but they often come with a risk attached for the unseasoned traveller. A last-minute jaunt to Brussels or Barcelona could end in tears if you forget some basics – such as insurance – before you jet off. Travel insurance is especially important to cover the risk of cancelled trips, stolen cash, or lost luggage – which will inevitably be packed with presents over the Christmas period.
With that in mind, we’ve teamed up with specialist medical travel insurance provider AllClear to put together five top tips to help you make the most of your Christmas shopping holiday, minus the stress that comes with travelling over the festive season.
1. Don’t forget to haggle.
We’ll be the first to admit that this might be a tad easier after a few glasses of mulled wine but it’s definitely worth a try. The advertised price isn’t always the ‘best price’, so put your negotiating skills to the test and be clear in your mind what you are willing to pay. There is often a lot of competition for similar products at these markets so every sale is important and worth bargaining for. Try not to get caught up in ‘Buy one get one free’ offers unless you really need multiple purchases; it’s only going to take up more space in your suitcase!
2. Christmas markets are not just for presents.
Allow yourself some time to sample the local food and drink, and soak up the town or city’s culture and festive spirit! We suggest setting aside a few hours in the morning to get some serious gift shopping under your belt then pop back to the hotel to drop off your buys. Then head back out for an afternoon of sight-seeing and enjoying the food and drink on offer at the market. It wouldn’t be Christmas without some stollen or panettone washed down with a Bailey’s hot chocolate.
3. Make sure you are properly insured.
Even though you are only away for a mini-break, in the winter you are more likely to experience weather-related travel delays like snow and storms so travel insurance is a must. Garry Nelson, of AllClear, says with Christmas fast approaching it’s especially important to make sure adequate travel insurance is in place: “It’s about being prepared so when boarding that train or plane, there is nothing to worry about other than spending the weekend’s budget!”
4. Check your baggage cover.
This is especially important if you plan to buy numerous or expensive gifts so that you know exactly how much your policy will pay out if you lose your bag. Are you fully aware of the excess fee? Make sure you’re not tricked into to a low cost quote which involves a high cost excess fee in return. When travelling home you may also want to spread your purchases between several suitcases so that if one gets misplaced or stolen, you haven’t lost everything all in one go.
5. Be aware when carrying large sums of cash.
While it can be tempting to carry more cash than usual when going on a Christmas market break, its important you don’t advertise yourself to thieves. Be sure to check how much your travel insurance policy covers you for if you need to make a claim for lost or stolen money. If you do carry cash, keep it in a small purse and tuck it away in an inside pocket of your jacket so that it can’t be easily pick-pocketed when you’re on the move. You could also put cash in various different pockets keeping a minimum amount or none at all in your handbag, as this is the most obvious target for thieves. Remember to set up and use the safe supplied with your hotel room for passports and extra emergency cash.
Now you’re organised it’s time to choose your location, book the flights and get shopping!