Solo traveling during Christmas.

solo traveling during christmas

What’s Solo traveling during Christmas like?

Christmas can be a funny time for solo travelers and nomads.

On the one hand, while most people have their decorations up, presents wrapped up (or still buying them), digging into another mince-pie and spending time with their families and loved ones – solo travelers are not. They’re out there in the world somewhere away from their families and loved ones.

However, on the other hand they’re out there having an experience of a lifetime. Spending Christmas in a completely different manner, getting a different perspective of it and in all likeliness Having the time of their lives.

How do I know this? Well, it’s because I did it for 6 consecutive Christmases.

Christmas in another country is different.

Ok, so call me captain obvious but spending Christmas in a foreign country can be completely different to what you’re used to back home, especially if you’re traveling to another continent or hemisphere.

Solo traveling during Christmas

When you think about Christmas, you think of how it is in your own country and in your own home. You think all the things you would usually do and the people you will normally be around.

However when you’re in a different country, continent or hemisphere it’s going to be different and you have to take a few things into account.

The weather.

You might laugh but the weather can really throw you out of sync at Christmas – It did for me the first year. If  like me, you come from the northern hemisphere, you’re more than likely going to be used to Christmas being during winter. You associate December with being cold, rainy and even snowy, so if you’re heading to the southern hemisphere then be prepared for the sun. If you’re traveling from the Southern to Northern Hemisphere for Christmas, bring your warm clothes and brace yourself.

Back in 2010 I purposefully chose to travel to Australia to start my solo traveling life just before Christmas. I knew it was summer there, and I wanted to experience Christmas in a warmer climate. However – fuck me! I was not prepared for just how hot it actually was. Ok, I wanted a warmer climate but Christmas in 38 degrees are you kidding me? I’m from England, I had never felt that much heat before; I might as well been in an inferno! – It’s fair to say it took some time to acclimatize.

Solo traveling during Christmas

And, with it being summer and that hot, it kind of took away the Christmas feel for me. Don’t get me wrong, there were decorations all over Sydney, a huge Christmas tree in Martin place, Christmas songs bellowed out from every direction, my hostel tried to make it feel as Christmassy as possible. Everything to do with Christmas was there but it just didn’t feel right because I was not used to it.

If you’re planning on traveling to a hot country and don’t come from one then just bare that in mind.

The years that followed solo traveling during Christmas.

However over the years I started getting used to spending Christmas in hot countries. I experienced a further 2 Christmases in Australia, one in sticky Vietnam and an even hotter one than my first in Bali. It was only my last Christmas abroad in Bogotá, Colombia that it wasn’t hot (It’s never hot in Bogotá.)

Culture, religion and traditions:

Depending on what country you’re solo traveling through during Christmas, culture, religion and traditions can play a part too.

Different countries will have their own traditions and customs and they will celebrate Christmas in different ways.

If you’re traveling through Europe for example, some countries actually celebrate the 24th like most people celebrate the 25th.

In England, we’re used to the 26th being boxing day (has nothing to do with boxing) but people from other countries don’t even know what boxing day is.

You might travel through a religious country where Christianity reins. They will celebrate the more religious side of what Christmas represents, carols, bible readings, and church events will be more common. It’s worth mentioning even if you’re not religious yourself be respectful of their beliefs; You’re in their country.

Before you start thinking hostels aren't your cup of tea check out this post on the different types of hostels you can stay in.

There will be other countries that don’t celebrate Christmas themselves but will try to make it feel ‘Christmassy’ just for travelers and tourists. These are countries that have copious amounts of western expats or tourists so will accommodate for them.

Since 2010 I’ve spent Christmas in Europe, Australasia, South East Asia and South America – And it’s been a different cultural experience in every country. My advice is keep an open mind and enjoy the new experience (if it’s new.)

Food:

Think of the types of food you would normally eat around Christmas and on Christmas day. Again depending on where you’re traveling to, different countries will have different traditional food for Christmas. I think in the 6 years I spent Christmas abroad I only ate a traditional Christmas dinner once, and that was because it was made by an English friend.

Solo traveling during Christmas

Not feeling lonely/ making friends.

One of the biggest concerns anybody has before they start solo traveling, no matter what time of year they travel is about making friends. And, solo traveling during Christmas makes those concerns even more prevalent, nobody wants to be alone at Christmas. I understand those concerns, I was in the same position when I started but let me assure and guarantee you this – You may be solo traveling but you will not be alone unless you want to be.

Hostels are a great place to start, they are social places and a great place to be around other solo travelers and make friends. A hostel environment encourages guests to talk to each other and make friends. You’ll find over Christmas a hostel will put on events, trips, and even put together some kind of Christmas dinner for all the guests. Sometimes it will just be another traveler or a group of travelers making the dinner for everybody. Hostels can get a bad rep sometimes but they will do all they can to make you feel at home.

Solo traveling during Christmas

Before you start thinking hostels aren’t your cup of tea check out this post on the different types of hostels you can stay in.

If you’re adamant that you don’t want to stay in a hostel, look into home-stay’s spend Christmas with a local family and experience it from their perspective.

It’s not just hostels where you’ll meet people; there are always events going on, markets, tours that you can get involved in. In a lot of countries you’ll even find tour companies and even other travelers putting together events.

For example:

My first year in Australia, I had literally only arrived a few days before Christmas, I didn’t know a single person but every day leading up to Christmas there was an event of some kind for backpackers and travelers. Thing’s like boat cruises, Christmas gift exchanges and of course on Christmas day the famous ‘orphans on the beach’ on Bondi Beach.

However it’s not just in Sydney, these types of events go on all over the world for travelers to come together.

So as you can see there will be lot’s of opportunities to meet people and make friends.

Before you start thinking hostels aren't your cup of tea check out this post on the different types of hostels you can stay in.

Remember when you’re traveling the friends you make, they can turn into family (making friends solo traveling.)

Gifts exchanges.

Let’s be honest a big part of Christmas is about giving and receiving presents. When you’re a solo traveler, especially if you’re new and don’t know anybody it can be hard and can feel lonely.

If you’re staying in a hostel, check if they’re doing any kind of gift exchanges or secret Santa and get involved. You may not know people too well but it’s a laugh and makes you feel involved.

Before you start thinking hostels aren't your cup of tea check out this post on the different types of hostels you can stay in.

Although my family have never done this for me, I’ve met so many other travelers who send gift’s home and in-turn get their families to send gifts to them. On Christmas day they will Skype their families and open gifts together. It’s a bit hard if you’re constantly on the move but if you’re staying in one place for the duration of Christmas then it’s plausible.

Embrace solo traveling during Christmas and make Unforgettable memories.

Christmas abroad is going to be a different experience but like with all things traveling keep an open mind and embrace it. Trust me I can talk about all 6 of my Christmases abroad in great details but ask me about all the ones I spent at home and they are just a blur.

In saying that this year will actually be the second year I’m spending Christmas at home having finally come back home last year. I’ll be honest, as great as it is being around family, I’d actually prefer to be solo traveling during Christmas. I’d prefer to be in another country making friends with strangers and experiencing Christmas from a different perspective.

If you want to know about my 6 Christmases abroad follow this link.

***

Are you planning on solo traveling during Christmas, was this post helpful? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Before you start thinking hostels aren't your cup of tea check out this post on the different types of hostels you can stay in.

Merry Christmas everybody and I hope you all have an amazing New Year.

Forever roaming the world will see you all back in 2018.

2018 will be a big year for forever roaming the world, this journey has only just begun.

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  1. I’ve never been alone for Christmas but it’s true that it’s going to be completely different from what you are used to back home. Last 2016 was my first Christmas away from home and it was totally different but i met new people because of it, so it was pretty amazing. 🙂

  2. What a feel good post! I’ve been planning to spend Christmas in Canada for a couple of years now but the thought of snow and extreme weather makes my resolve a bit shaky, mainly because I travel with my kid. But this post has given me so much motivation, haha. Will definitely try and make it there next year.

  3. This seems like a good idea to travel during festive times. What could be better than Christmas time!
    Different countries definitely promise different experience. I totally agree with you when you say that if one is traveling to a hot location, one should not be coming from one. However, I think you have had a blast traveling solo.
    Hope you had a great Christmas!

  4. It’s interesting to hear about your Christmas experiences abroad, Amit! I agree, 38 Celsius isn’t exactly going to get the Christmas vibes flowing! That must have been a shock on your first Christmas away from home. It’s interesting though, that now that you’re back home for Christmas, you’d rather be off solo traveling! Ha! Well, hope it’s a Merry Christmas for you at any rate, and hopefully the new year will bring lots of new adventures! 🙂

  5. Great post! Celebrating Christmas in different countries and experiencing their festivities is an interesting experience. We generally celebrate festivals with our family and friends. It’s great to step out of our comfort zones at times and experience celebrations in an unusual way. I’m quite amused to know that you celebrated 6-consecutive Christmas eves in different countries and that too as a solo traveller! Wow! Thanks for the helpful tips.
    Shaily recently posted…Sailing on Chao Phraya River AyutthayaMy Profile

  6. I’m super surprised to hear you’d rather spend the holidays abroad than at home. But that’s just me since I’ve celebrated most of mine with family. That’s awesome you’ve celebrated Christmas in so many different places tho! Solo travel is still a little out of my comfort zone, not to mention solo traveling during the holidays, but I’ll be sure to look into hostels as they really seem like great places to meet new friends.

  7. I kind of prefer to spend the holidays with a small group, just my husband and kids. It always wears me out and I don’t enjoy going to distant families homes or my in-laws. I would love to travel around the States or further for the holidays with my little family though, make and share some great memories.

  8. Great points. Although I have a home base and a regular job, I always take advantage of the extra time off for Christmas & New Years and travel. My family celebrates Christmas early, so I get the entire time. I couldn’t agree more that I do not find myself lonely, nor alone on Christmas. This year, I will be snorkeling with other travelers in Mexico & I’m looking forward to it!

    Exploring Curiously recently posted…What Not to Miss in Southern NorwayMy Profile

  9. This is something that I want to do, spend Christmas in another country. I live in a tropical country but it tends to be a bit cold here in December. And I don’t think I will enjoy Christmas in Australia because I want Christmas to be cold. We get 38 degrees in my country during summer and I don’t want that for Christmas.

    I think I will be spending Christmas in another country next year and I am excited already. You just gave me an idea of staying in hostels, now that you mentioned it, why not. I should give that one a try. Maybe I’d enjoy it.

    Marge recently posted…The one thing you should never miss in Siargao is Magpupungko Rock PoolMy Profile

  10. I’ve always associated Christmas with it being cold and snowing – actually I can’t remember when we had snow during Christmas in the UK! I’ve spent a couple of Christmases abroad .. Dubai and Hong Kong. It felt strange in Dubai, having the turkey with trimmings and then hitting the beach after! I absolutely loved the warm weather though! It’s great that you can exchange gifts in the hostels. Maybe I can persuade Ian to spend Xmas abroad next year! Merry Xmas!! Have a fab 2018!
    Lana recently posted…Snowboarding Aspen Snowmass, ColoradoMy Profile

  11. Christmas is always associated with snowy flakes with furry coats but spending Xmas time in southern hemisphere is so different. It is all sunny and bright. Being a solo traveler, it seems you have made quite a new friends and enjoyed differently.

  12. I spent Christmas in Russia a couple years in a row. December 25th was actually a regular working day. It felt so weird working! They celebrate new year’s and orthodox xmas in January. It was a great learning experience for me, that was like 18 years ago. I was so stupid and thought everyone celebrated Christmas.

  13. Aww Christmas Day orphans sounds so sad, but at least you were all together on that beach! I’ve spent a few Christmasses from home, but they don’t tend to be that different apart from the weather! I agree about your hostel being a second community, I can tell from your photos that you had some fun Santa times! Wishing you a merry Christmas wherever you’re spending it!

  14. I can imagine how it must feel. I’ve always trued to head back home for Christmas to spend with my family, it’s usually a large one. Like a famiky ritual, extended families come around with everyone marking attendance. Lol. The weather change is what most people spending Christmas abroad complain of. I wonder how it’ll feel celebrating Christmas without the snow I’m used to. Glad to read your are going to Marrakech, I hope to follow your blog for that.

  15. I always wondered how people in hotter climates, such as Australia, experience xmas, I mean, in movies, books, basically everywhere, it’s always portrayed as a festive holiday with lots of cold and snow and anything different would seem slightly strange. Also, I would love to experience a more traditional xmas in Europe, in Canada all I ever see is a commercialized holiday season, the last time i remember hearing carols is probably back in grade school.

  16. That’s a very handy guide for someone like me who travels solo. You are right, Christmas celebrations are different in different places. I would love to see how Sydney celebrates Christmas. You have piqued my curiosity.

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