More than 1.5 million Australians are searching for a lengthy 24 day (on average) holiday this Christmas with half of travellers (50 per cent) headed to Asia, according to data from Cheapflights.com.au.
Seven of the top 10 destinations this period are in the region, including old favourite, Bali, alongside Delhi, Manila, Bangkok, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, while three northern hemisphere staples round out the list.
This pilgrimage bucks the trend of last year, when almost one in four travellers chose to take off to Europe to experience a traditional white Christmas, compared to 19 per cent in 2016. Although London is still the second most desired destination (following Bali) this festive season, the only other nearby cities to get a mention are Dublin ranking in eighteenth place and Paris in twenty-fourth.
The appeal of North America remains solid, with searches up four per cent this year and both Los Angeles and New York amoung the top picks for holiday destinations this December (sixth and eighth respectively).
Nathan Graham, Regional Sales Manager at Cheapflights ANZ, said, “Asia is a clear winner for Aussies. The number of searches to the region this December is up more than 13 per cent on the same time last year. Just a short and affordable flight away, it offers flexibility to make travel our own – either indulging in festivities or taking a welcome break from the extended family.
“Numbers boosted by ongoing uncertainty around the US dollar in the wake of the Trump election, we can also see travellers are opting to visit the States post Christmas, as one in five plan to arrive in time to join New Year’s revelries.”
Looking closer to home, in the last month Cheapflights.com.au recorded almost 100,000 searches to destinations across New Zealand, while the top domestic hot spots are Perth (18 per cent), Melbourne (17 per cent) and Sydney (15 per cent).
The research also shows that the dates Australians are planning to depart on are right in the thick of celebrations. The week leading into Christmas (19 December) is the most popular time to fly out, however those heading to Europe are likely to leave a little earlier (week commencing 12 December).
It will be almost impossible to avoid crowds when departing via Sydney, with 40 per cent of travellers set to move through the hub. Melbourne (28 per cent), Brisbane (14 per cent) and Perth (11 per cent) will also see an influx of fliers.
To keep travellers in the holiday spirit during this busy period, Cheapflights.com.au has put together its top five X-Mas travel tips:
1. Be Flexible – Whether it’s with your travel dates, departure or destination airport, considering all your options could save you money as well as the stress of holiday crowds.
2. Visit Duty Free – We know seven in 10 Aussies already make duty free purchases before flying, so why not make a most of your airport wait to grab any last minute Christmas pressies. But make sure to check alcohol and liquids restrictions, as these vary between destinations. 3. Pack Hand Sanitiser – Take plenty of hand sanitiser to help fend off germs. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in an aircraft with a sickly seatmate – and no one wants to be coughing and spluttering on Christmas Day.
4. Non-Electronic Entertainment? Check! – Christmas crowds and potential travel delays mean you will likely be battling it out for a limited number of power outlets at the gate. If your technology dies, you’ll be glad to have a book, deck of cards or a few Sudoku puzzles to keep everyone entertained.
5. Check-In Online – Avoid a stressful transit and skip the lines by checking in online. More and more airports will also let you check-in your own luggage making that last minute dash even easier.