How I Survived Christmas Abroad

Have you ever experienced the holiday season away from your family and closest friends? Perhaps in a foreign country as well? The Christmas and New Years holidays are the most important time of year, when family gathers and shares over feasts, gifts, and maybe one too many rum and eggnogs. It’s also a time where we may be halfway across the world, and are just trying to have the best Christmas, knowing we are far from home. I have spent the last two holiday seasons away from my home country and family, and this post is all about how i survived Christmas abroad (and more!), and you can too!

Surround yourself with people in the same situation as you.

If you’re abroad during the holidays, there’s bound to be someone nearby in the exact same situation as you. Find fellow backpackers in your hostel, families of local friends, anyone that you want to share the holiday cheer with! A great idea is organizing an easy and fun Secret Santa gift exchange with a group of people at a small price range, make a get together to share appetizers or desserts or to watch a holiday movie together! This can help everyone have a wonderful morning filled with surprises and treats with those who are sure to soon be close friends.

Embrace new traditions.

The key to surviving the holiday season away from family and in a new environment is to immediately understand that it will be different. You’re in a new country, with a different culture and set of traditions. So let go a little bit of the traditions you have at home (keep a few!) and welcome the new traditions that come your way. It will spark the Christmas excitement again!

For example, I have just spent Christmas 2016 in Chile, where everyone waits on Christmas Eve until midnight and then opens gifts and meets family until the early hours of the morning. In Canada where I’m from, we have dinner, family conversation by the fire and then fall fast asleep only to wake up early the next morning for gifts and a large breakfast.

Viejito Pascuero (Santa Claus) en Chile

Call or Skype your loved ones.

Yes, technology seems to be taking over to a certain degree. And we should leave our cell phones and other devices to the side during the holidays to fully be present and connect with those around us ( really we should do this for the most part always!). One time where your phone will definitely come in handy this year is to call or skype your loved ones at home.

I recently skyped with my family and they showed me around the house, our decorated tree, the snow outside, and them! Although it made me miss my family even more of course, I was able to imagine I was right there with them. Thank gosh for technology with loved ones far away!

You’re doing it!

After experiencing Christmas abroad, the verdict for me is, of course, nothing is better than home. Family is the most important at this time of year, right? But at the same time, what I do enjoy about the holidays abroad with new people I meet in my travels is it opens my mind to other cultures, I learn and practice new traditions, and it makes it that much sweeter when I will finally have Christmas at home again. Travelling at Christmas has also really put into perspective the amount of material items we give and consume during the holiday season. While travelling and keeping in mind those I am usually giving gifts to are travelling as well, it helps you to think much more about what you are purchasing, and how it can be useful to that person, making gift giving that much more satisfying!

Happy holidays to you, wherever you are in the world!

Where is your favourite place to spend the holidays? Do you have any holiday traditions? Let me know in the comments! Please subscribe if you’d like to see more posts like this.

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad