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Wherever you live in the world, Christmas 2020 was a strange one. For people in the UK, it was a strange experience because different areas of the country were under different levels of lockdown. In fact, some places were put in a really strict lockdown that was announced just a day or two before Christmas. 

2020 was a tough year for everyone, but for those that spent much of the year unable to see friends and relatives that live far away the fact that they couldn’t see them at Christmas was a tough one to bear. Over the last couple of months, we have seen travel restrictions eased and lockdown rules within the UK removed and as such, with the holiday season fast approaching people will be starting to consider where they will spend Christmas 2021 and how to make sure it makes up for last year.

Brits Living Abroad

It is thought that 5.5 million British people currently live abroad – basically one in 10 of the UK population. These numbers do go up and down depending on current trends, we’re currently in a slow down due to Coronavirus but numbers are expected to increase again once things go back to normal following the global pandemic

Australia is a popular place for Brits to call home with around 1.2 million British people currently living there. It will come as no surprise to most that Spain is also a popular choice with 760,000 people moving from England in search of a sunnier life. Other popular countries for Brits to live abroad include the United States (678,000), Canada (603,000) and New Zealand (215,000).

Living Abroad During a Pandemic

Everyone was affected by the pandemic, but those that live abroad perhaps even more so. Anyone who relocates to another country is aware that they’re going to have longer periods than normal where they can’t see friends and family, but no one could have predicted that the world would go into lockdown and that international travel would be pretty much banned.

Last year we had to rely on video calls and text messages to celebrate Christmas and see in the new year – which although a great alternative to not seeing our friends isn’t the same as seeing them in the flesh. In general, everyone did what they could to make the most of Christmas 2020, but realistically most of us couldn’t even see friends/family that lived locally let alone spending time with people who live in a different country.

The End of 2020

The latter part of 2020 was a really tough one, as winter saw a number of restrictions put in place, especially with regards to international travel. For example, Canada banned all non-essential travel into the country as well as a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival to the country – making it hard for anyone to just travel for a couple of weeks. This meant a 91.3% decrease in Canadians that travelled during December 2020 compared to December 2019 – a pretty miserable time for some of the Brits that have made the move to Canada and haven’t yet been able to see friends and family since the start of the global pandemic.

Christmas 2021

Thankfully, if life goes on as it has been, then Christmas 2021 looks set to be a much better one in terms of seeing friends and family. – a website that helps expats find the best exchange rates and money transfer apps – has researched how Christmas this year will look different from last year

They compared data by ONS that looked at flights for the last three years and what estimations have been given for winter scheduled fights. 

Based on what we have seen for 2019 and 2020, their estimations are that during a standard week in December there is likely to be an average of 4,600 daily flights from the UK – a massive increase on last year. Last year there were only 1800 flights on an average December day, which combined with lockdowns, travel restrictions and periods of isolation made it pretty much impossible for many expats to be able to see friends and family in the UK over Christmas last year.

What Does The Future Look Like?

Realistically, none of us can say for certain what the future looks like, but there is certainly more hope for Christmas 2021 than there was last year. Thanks to successful vaccination programmes and long periods of isolation most countries are now seeing a return to some normality. As this increases, so will more opportunities to travel and spend Christmas with loved ones. 

In the UK there are Covid vaccination passports available via the NHS app and the opportunity to have Covid tests before you travel which is helping to make international travel a much more realistic proposition.

The UK and many other countries are now starting to roll out a booster vaccination for those that have been already fully vaccinated. This alongside an already very successful flu vaccination programme should help to keep the UK much healthier than it was this time last year

However, numbers of COVID cases are going up drastically and some advisers to the government are saying that we should enforce restrictions like face masks and working from home in order to avoid another Christmas in lockdown.  

Hopefully this will not be the case as Christmas is just 2 months away, and people will be starting to get excited about being able to make plans. Alongside that, people will be looking forward to being able to celebrate the New Year properly and hopefully use the turning of the clock at midnight on the 31st of December as a way to say goodbye to a few years that have been tricky for everyone.

International travel is definitely on the increase and the number of estimated flights to and from the UK for December 2021 will be welcome news to those that are looking forward to being able to make plans with loved ones and once again spend Christmas celebrating with the people they care about – something that lots of us missed out on last year!

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