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How to celebrate your first holiday season abroad

5 Comments 13 December 2011

How to celebrate your first holiday season abroad

It’s getting to that time of the year. The holidays are upon us and if you’re spending this holiday season abroad you may not even notice it.

Even the most adventurous travelers long to be home for Christmas, because no matter how hard a traveler tries, nothing beats the holidays with family. But don’t get too upset over it. Celebrating the season abroad can be a memorable and happy experience if you look at it the right way.

Here are some guidelines to making your celebrations abroad special.

Don’t expect everything to be the same as at home

Holidays are celebrated very differently around the world. In fact, your holiday may not even be celebrated in the part of the world you are visiting or living in this year. Iinstead of thinking your missing out on something, consider yourself learning something new and embracing another culture.

It was next to impossible to find a turkey in New Zealand for Thanksgiving, so we settled on two chickens. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This can mean not even celebrating the same holiday or it can just mean not having turkey for dinner. Either way, embrace the new. Don’t get caught up on everything being your idea of perfect. Learn about how this holiday can be, as all travel should be, a cultural experience. Ditch turkey for kangaroo. Try out Kwanza instead of Christmas.

Invite new friends or join their celebration

It always amazes me how kind people are around the world, even to strangers. There is no possible way a person could celebrate the holidays alone in a world as loving as this on days that actually celebrates that.

If you’ve been living in an area for awhile, ask new friends what their plans are for the holidays. Get to know other travelers in your hostel and plan a celebration with them. Look at online forums or local newsletters to see what is happening on Christmas day in the area. Churches usually have something or you could volunteer at a soup kitchen.

The point is, you really never have to worry about celebrating the holidays alone. There will always be something for you to do and a place for you to go.

Remeber to treat yourself

Go on, it’s the holidays. Eat that bag of cookies and buy yourself that dress you’ve been eyeing up for the last month.

All the trimmings. Photo by Richard Hackey

But watch how much you spend

I never fully realized how much the holidays cost until my first Thanksgiving and Christmas abroad. It really made me appreciate everything my parents put into all those holidays throughout my childhood and beyond.

Unfortunately travelers usually don’t have the luxury of splurging on a holiday. Don’t even try to match your holiday dinner or celebration at home. It took your family a lot of time and money to create that and you won’t match it even if you do buy the best of the best.

If you can get a group of friends together, split the meal amongst the group. It will save you a lot of time and money. Plus, it’s more fun to share these things with other people.

I got crafty. Stella bottles and flowers from the garden, nice decorations for little cost. Photo by Bobbi Lee HItchon

Take time to call home

Even if you can’t be at home this holiday season, the people there are thinking about you. With technology today, there’s no reason not to call home. Hell you can even sit at the dinner table via skype. Now if they could only figure out a way to send food in real time.

Whatever you do this holiday season, make it a good one. If you’re abroad, it won’t be like home, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing. Seasons Greetings!

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- who has written 310 posts on Heels and Wheels.

Creator of Heels and Wheels. Writer, traveler and more.

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  • Diana Edelman

    Since I will likely be out at some point during the holidays, these are good tips!

  • Bobbi and Ric

    Thanks. Will you be spending these holidays on the road?

  • Pingback: My year in travel: 2011 | Heels and Wheels()

  • Rachael

    I have spent a number of holidays, especially Thanksgivings, abroad
    and I’ve always ended up having ways to celebrate. They make for great
    stories and memorable holidays!

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    Very true! I’ve had some amazing ones abroad.

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