For most people Christmas Day in North America and Europe brings about visions of being snuggled up around a fireplace, home baked treats, time spent catching up with relatives and presents under the Christmas tree. Christmas can also mean dropping lots of money on endless Christmas lists, driving through snowstorms for last minute shopping and an oversupply of turkey dinners and leftovers for weeks on end.
If you find yourself able or willing to spend a Christmas abroad, it can at times be a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle that the holiday season brings with it each year. While you will likely have to give up that famous turkey dinner and baked goodies, you can try out new customs and treats for a truly memorable holiday.
Since a Christmas abroad may be a once in a lifetime experience, here are five ways you can be sure to make the most of a holiday away from home:
- Do something you could never do at home for Christmas – If Christmas means lots of snow, plan to spend the day laying on the beach or hiking in the jungle instead. If you usually spend all day cooking dinner for family and friends, treat yourself to dinner out at a nice local restaurant where someone else does the cooking. Stay up till dawn partying, or sleep blissfully through the morning. You won’t likely spend many Christmases away from home so be sure it’s one you won’t forget.
- Shop online for gifts – While being away for Christmas can shorten the list of people you need to shop for, it won’t get you off the hook completely. To enjoy a guilt free holiday lazing on the beach, organize online shopping with gifts delivered in time for Christmas. Most sites will even include gift wrapping for a nominal charge. Better yet, ask a sibling or parent to pick up the items you need for other family members and have them delivered in person. Note – if you go this route be sure to give ample notice and you may be asked to repay the favour next year.
- Call home – the holidays are a great time to catch up with many of your relatives at one time with a Skype call home during a family gathering. While you’ll have to repeat your travel tales to each aunt and uncle as the laptop or tablet is passed around, it’s a great way to chat with all your family members at once while you are away.
- Give back – Christmas time is ripe with opportunities for giving back to the local community. Ask around at your hostel or hotel if there is a charity or food bank you can support, or simply pick up some extra sweets, don a Santa hat and spread some holiday cheer around town.
- Relax & Enjoy – From enjoying Christmas down under at Bondi Beach to waking up for a Fresh Tracks breakfast and snowboarding in Whistler to hiking in the jungle of Panama, wherever your Christmas abroad takes you, enjoy it! If you’ve successfully executed the four steps above then hopefully you can enjoy a Christmas away that is guilt-free and without too much homesickness.