Happy Whatever; Holidays Abroad
Whether it is a pivotal part of travel plans or it simply happens to fall in the middle of a trip, odds are if you travel enough, Holidays will sooner or later be spent abroad. On one side, you have the Holidays that don’t really have a lot of signification in the sense that you will probably not feel homesick traveling on Labor Day or Halloween but when traveling keeps you away from your family and loved ones on Christmas, Valentine’s Day or birthdays, the stakes are definitely higher.
I haven’t had the guts to spend Christmas away from home yet but I’ve been away for a few different Holidays and from personal experience, those are some of the ways to make the whole experience better.
Research, research, research
Generally speaking, it’s never a bad idea to do a minimum of research on a destination but searching for Holidays-specific information might actually make your experience a lot better. Not only will it allow you to know what’s closed and what’s opened but it also gives you some insight on what to expect. The traditions you’re familiar with might not translate into the same experience when you’re halfway around the world and if you get up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning, expecting to be joined by the locals, you might be heading for disappointment.
Find out about the local traditions and try to embrace them; it might not be your definition of Christmas but if you know what to expect, you’re likely to enjoy the experience much more.
Do something about it
Traveling alone on your Birthday? Plan something. Make sure to schedule some cool things to do so that you don’t spend the day sulking alone in a corner. If you’re a fan of tours, go for it; that way you’ll be surrounded by people all day. The important thing is to make sure you make it a day to remember and doing something unique that’ll fill your head with memories and stories to tell is the best way to do it. Go Zorbing if you’re in New Zealand, take a helicopter ride over volcanoes in Iceland or see one of the World Wonders; you might not be home but the experience alone will be worth it.
Don’t see being away from home as an unfortunate experience, see it as a way to do something completely out of the ordinary and make it a Holiday to remember.
Follow the local traditions
The old saying, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, is particularly true when it comes to Holidays and doing some planning to make sure you know what to expect is key to make sure you aren’t taken by surprise by a Holiday you aren’t familiar with. Maybe you’re used to celebrating New Years at the end of December but if you’re traveling through China, you should expect some serious celebrating at the end of January. The Carnival in Rio, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Mexico’s Día de los Muertos are some of the most famous area-specific Holidays that you may experience and always making sure that you know what to expect, especially in terms of what is closed and the services running on a limited or modified schedule is key to enjoying the experience instead of being held back by the celebration. The same logic applies if you expect to visit the most famous Mayan sites of the Riviera Maya. If your trip falls around the equinoxes, expect to be surrounded by crowds of people who are there specifically for the equinox.
Play it safe
If you’re traveling for an extended period of time and have some freedom to build your itinerary along the way, why not build it around the Holiday in question? Not only does it make sense to plan your itinerary around a unique experience and still be in a relatively familiar setting but it also definitely beats avoiding celebrations altogether.
Spending Christmas abroad? The Christmas markets across Europe are world-renowned so spending Christmas time in Austria or Germany might actually be an experience that’ll make you want to travel even more around the Holidays.
It can be New Year’s Eve in Times Square, Easter at the Vatican, Valentine’s Day in Paris or even Halloween in Europe to visit some famous haunted places; Holidays abroad can be a unique experience that’ll completely take your mind away from feeling homesick about missing out on traditions.
Sure, maybe you’re used to seeing snow on the ground and bundling up in winter clothes to go to church or Christmas Eve and it may be hard to get in the spirit of Christmas if you’re on a beach in Thailand but embrace the local traditions and be open to a celebration that’s out of the ordinary for you.
Worse comes to worst, if you realize that you simply cannot break away from tradition, there’s always next year if you want to go back to a more traditional celebration. On the plus side, you’ll be able to share the unusual experience you’ve lived and who knows; you might actually fall in love with the traditions you’ll discover abroad.