Travel rules may have tightened around the world, but many people are still jetting off to reunite with loved ones after long stretches of time apart. Though rules to do with Covid are constantly changing, one thing that is likely to remain the same is the baggage restrictions put in place by individual airlines.
Make sure you understand the hand luggage rules for your carrier
Hand luggage rules vary vastly from airline to airline, with some allowing larger or heavier bags to be brought onboard than others.
This is why Mr Ewart says it is vital you understand exactly what your airline permits before beginning the packing process.
He said: “Firstly, double-check with your airline what size of hand luggage you are allowed.
“Many of us may be flying this Christmas for the first time in a while and what some people may have missed is that over the last couple of years airlines, such as easyJet and Ryanair, have stopped including traditional sized hand luggage with their basic fares.
“Fliers are often surprised to find their ticket now only includes a small bag which fits under the seat in front.”
In the event your hand luggage is too big, your airline may require you to pay to check it in.
Ryanair, for example, will charge between £23.99 and £35.99 for those who need to check-in a 10kg back at the last minute.
This cost grows to between £39.99 and £59.99 if the bag weighs more than 20kg.
Winning tip: A zen Christmas with disco karaoke, Japan
One Christmas, I went to a zen meditation retreat in Oita, on the southernmost Kyushu island, because I was feeling very burned out. The meditation retreat, as you would imagine, was pretty relaxed and the resident monk and I got along very well. Oita is famous for its fugu – the poisonous puffer fish – and for Christmas dinner, I took the only other person at the retreat and the monk into the city for a fugu feast. After a visit to a karaoke bar where we sang I Will Survive, the three of us rounded our Christmas off at a whisky bar before riding the train back to the temple to meditate before bed. Best Christmas ever! Sarah Martin
Festive fireworks on the beach, Bangkok
In Bangkok over Christmas, we decided to head to the island of Ko Chang. A five-hour drive was livened up by the karaoke machine in the back of the taxi. Our hotel’s attempt at roast turkey – served beachside – was not a great success. Fireworks and dancing at the Sabay Bar on White Sand beach that night were more like it. And splashing out on a speedboat back to the mainland on Boxing Day was a fun end to the trip. David Hall
The belénes of Granada, Spain
Arriving late by bus, still wearing ski gear, we trundled our cabin bags over the cobbles in search of our rented apartment in the heart of medieval Granada. It was Christmas Eve. Everyone was out: drinking cava, sharing tapas or queuing to see the belénes, the nativity scenes set up in all the plazas. We went to midnight mass in the Cathedral, and on Christmas morning, climbed up to the viewpoint at the Albaicín, the old Moorish quarter. From there, the Alhambra looked sublime against its backdrop of snow-capped peaks, the same mountains we had skied down just the day before. Helen Barnes
Romance on the 102nd floor, New York
New York, 2009. Baggage handlers kindly mislaid our luggage, making our engagement more problematic than I’d have liked, but the snow and the scenery and the gasp of “really?” when I popped the question atop the Empire State Building on Christmas morning, followed by a Christmas dinner of burgers in the Diamond District, more than made up for it. There really is no other place like it, certainly not at Christmas. Visiting the Plaza, Radio City Music Hall, taking a horse ride through Central Park – they all sound like cliches but were simply magical moments we’d recommend everyone experience. We spent a lot on phone calls to the airline, but who cares? Jonathan Greenbank
A bushveld feast, South Africa
We had a family holiday at Shimuweni, a remote bushveld camp down a small dirt track in the Kruger national park, self-catering. After a day of drizzle we spent an hour trying to extract ourselves from the mud before sundown. No Christmas dinner has ever been quite such fun as a spatchcocked chicken masquerading as a turkey, green peppers (the only greens in the camp shop) as sprouts, baked potatoes cooked direct in the embers and some barbecued pineapple for pudding. Having hidden tinsel and a few tiny gifts in our hand luggage the whole trip, pulling them out to my parents’ utter surprise was entirely worth it. Sophie
Retreading the missionary path, India
For Christmas in 2016, my family and I went on a trip to southern India to see where my mum spent six years of her childhood in the 60s when her dad was a missionary. It was a fascinating trip and surprisingly Christmassy in a weird and wonderful way – a whole cooked turkey with the head and neck still on, anyone? At the Christmas Day church service Mum bumped into a friend who she used to play with when she was a child, and we swam in the sea at Kovalam beach just as she did with her family all those years ago. Alex Robinson
A wondrous walk, Jordan
Our twist on Christmas was set in Jordan and began with a sleepless night on Christmas Eve in a wind-battered tent – although “tent” was a loose term for the patchy tarpaulins we used for shelter, and a structural collapse occurred at 3am. Despite the mishaps, Christmas morning began in style with a sip of prosecco and a bite of Mum’s homemade Christmas cake for all. Once clad in festive antlers, we set off on a walk through the mountains to the majestic monastery in Petra. Festive greetings from home and an unusual Christmas dinner, consisting of a cucumber, an orange and flatbread, rounded off a brilliant Christmas Day in one of the wonders of the world. Rhian Thomas
An alternative white Christmas, Bolivia
My most unusual Christmas Day was on the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia – white, but salt, not snow. We visited the Salt Hotel, then drove over packed salt to walk on a island with weird cactuses everywhere. Then it was on to a very basic hostel – no electricity (cold showers) and unisex dorms with cast-iron bunk beds – for a dinner of spag bol reheated over a gas cylinder burner and carols by candlelight. After a short night, Boxing Day saw us visiting the amazing Sol de Mañana geysers before heading to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, which was like a wild west film set. Micki Hobbs
Viennese whirlwind, Austria
With no plans on Christmas morning we searched for an impromptu mini-break and chose three nights in Vienna, departing Stansted at 8pm. No traffic, no queues, last train into the city, and a taxi around the Ringstrasse – illuminated golden bright on a silent night – for chocolate in bed as the clock struck midnight. Cafe Hawelka, Wiener wurst, Christmas markets, ice skating, Belvedere Museum Klimts, the ferris wheel at Prater, feeling giggly after gluhwein, looking for the Third Man aboard a clanking tram … Vienna simply dazzles at Christmas. Sometimes the unexpected presents are the best. Sonia Marshall
Mastering the haka, New Zealand
Taking part in a local haka contest – and winning it – on Christmas Day on a New Zealand beach was the last thing I expected to do during my backpacking trip around the world. While sunbathing on Piha beach near Lion Rock, just outside Auckland, I was invited to learn the ceremonial dance so decided to go for it along with several other tourists. My terrific trainer, Ari (whose name apparently means Lion of God), should take all the credit for my prize – a large live sheep and a Māori tattoo on my shoulder. Strictly Come Dancing it certainly wasn’t, but a Christmas with a difference it sure was. Greta Cooper
Our all-girls group’s plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve while camping and stargazing in Chile’s eerie Atacama Desert almost went wrong. Thanks to Jesus, it all worked out. Our tight budget led us to rent a Jeep from a backstreet car-hire firm in San Pedro. Result – a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, a friendly group of locals led by the aptly named Jesus, who had some mechanical knowledge, were also heading out to the desert and stopped to help us. Result: a shared trip, wine, food, campfires and songs in English and Spanish under the mystical Atacama skies to see out and welcome in the year in a stunning setting and with great company. Yasmin Cox
Cold night with hot music, New Orleans
One New Year’s Eve in the early 2000s, my partner and I were housesitting a friend’s shack in New Orleans. The temperature had plunged to -5C, remarkable for Nola. Totally unprepared for this unusual cold, we put on our onesie long johns and walked to Mid-City Lanes Rock‘n’Bowl. We rented a lane, ordered po’ boys (a Louisiana sandwich) and beers, bowled, and wandered downstairs to hear legendary local singer and guitarist Snooks Eaglin (sadly no longer with us). Around 10pm, the Iguanas came onstage and the bowling lanes were overrun with revellers juggling food, drinks and kids while dancing to the Latin-tinged R&B groove music. New Year’s Eve, but just a normal night a Noo Or-lins. Donna J Hall
Out with the old, Bologna
To see in 2019 we went to beautiful Bologna where there is a traditional burning of a huge effigy of a man – known as the vecchione (the old one) – in the square at midnight. This symbolises the discarding of all the bad things that happened in the old year and the welcoming in of the new. The night starts with dancing and music where people of all ages drink and enjoy life. As the clock struck 12 we hugged and the flames engulfed the wooden figure as confetti fell from the sky and balloons bounced over the crowd. Louisa Guise
A Méri old evening, France
In Méribel forNew Year’s Eve, a couple from our chalet invites us to the local bar. We are a mixed bunch; some of us in snow boots, some dressed very fashionably. The champagne flows, glasses are raised, then raised again as the mellow sounds of a saxophonist flood the room. The fire crackles, while outside the crescent moon hangs amid twinkling stars; this is paradise. Later, we head to the village square where vin chaud is served by chalet staff as we watch expert skiers descend carrying lanterns while fireworks burst above them. The hour is upon us as we gather around a tree and welcome in the new year. Perfect. Jean Broad
Wine and jive, Cape Town
A sunset picnic on Table Mountain, washed down with silky-smooth Stellenbosch wines, was a great way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Cape Town at the dawn of the new millennium. As the clock ticked towards midnight, I took the cable car down to the V&A Waterfront, looking down as the mountain tops of the 12 Apostles cast their dramatic shadows over the brooding Atlantic Ocean. An all-night open-air disco carried on the fun, welcoming in the new year for a crowd of all ages and races, with the then 81-year-old Nelson Mandela appearing on the big screen from his nearby home, jiving away, to join in the celebrations. Gonca Cox
Salsa, sea lions and sculptures in San Diego
The welcome sunshine was not just a bonus for me, but also for the sea lions who were basking on the jetty. The Balloon Parade was a party open to everyone, and it was a friendly family atmosphere along with plenty of salsa moves. At sunset, stunning stone sculptures were silhouetted against the skyline. Standing on the boardwalk in Seaport Village was the perfect viewpoint for the midnight fireworks and their sparkling reflections in the sea. A great way to see in the new year – and all for free. Vanessa Wright
I found Paradise, Ethiopia
One year I spent 31 December at Paradise Lodge, overlooking Ethiopia’s Lake Chamo in the south-west of the country, where the individual tukuls (round huts) could be described as primitive or charmingly rustic, depending on your take. At the gala dinner we ate berbere-spiced wats (stews) and injera, a flatbread that reminded me of foam rubber in looks and taste. The music ranged from Amy Winehouse to traditional Ethiopian tunes, and a group of Indian visitors proved funky dancers whatever the beat. Midnight arrived, along with a huge cake, poppers, streamers and more dance music. The international partying continued until the early hours when I returned to what seemed like a palatial room. Helen Jackson