Solo traveling during Christmas.
Solo traveling during Christmas.
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.
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.
You might be laughing 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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remember when you’re traveling the friends you make, they can turn into family (making friends solo traveling.)
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.
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.
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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