When it comes to advice on how to handle the holiday season away from home, I only have two tips. Speaking from experience, they’re the only two you need.
Christmas for me has always been a time that has revolved around family. So, it comes as no surprise that my first tip is to connect with your family and friends in some way during the season. You can do this by having an early Christmas together before you leave for your travels or getting in touch on Christmas day by phone or Skype.
Completely ignore your family and friends.
Hear me out…
The first time I spent Christmas away from home was when I was in Australia. Not only was it the first time I spent the holidays without my family, but I was also dealing with the culture shock of Christmas in the summer, seeing decorations of Santa on a surfboard, and being 11 hours ahead of everyone back home. It was weird!
Since my trip to Australia started in October, it didn’t make sense to have an early Christmas. To include me as best they could from so far away, my parents sent me a Christmas package from Canada so I could have some gifts to open. I didn’t send them anything because I grossly underestimated the cost of a five month trip to Australia. I could barely afford to feed myself let alone buy Christmas gifts. I think we’ve all been there.
Now, getting to my second tip…
I am aware that suggesting you ignore your family and friends back home sounds like a bitch move, especially during the holidays. However, in order to appreciate your own reality and prevent yourself from feeling homesick or lonely, this tip is important.
A quick phone or video call with your family at home is great, but don’t feel obligated to make it as long as a visit would be. Keep it short and sweet unless the idea of sitting in a room by yourself while watching a loud choppy video of your family walking around a living room excites you. A long call will just remind you that you’re alone in a new place and keep you from doing the things you should be doing.
What are the things you should be doing?
Do as the locals do! Find out what the Christmas customs and traditions are in the area, spend time with your travel buddies, make new friends, get outside and people watch. The main thing that will make your Christmas away from home a success is to keep busy, participate in the festivities around you, and totally immerse yourself in the culture.
This year, I’ll be spending Christmas in Prague which has recently become my favourite city. Taking my own advice, I held a Christmas party with my family before my departure date.
I’m looking forward to learning about and experiencing a Czech Christmas. Although I’m a little curious and concerned about some of the traditions. For example, did you know that instead of Santa, the devil comes to ask the children if they’ve been good and threatens to take them to hell in his sac if they’ve been bad? They also keep a fish in the tub for a few days before killing and eating it. One thing I can see myself getting used to however, is the mulled wine at the Christmas markets!
Have you spent a Christmas away from home?
What were some of the celebrations that were new to you?