This will be my third Christmas away from home. When I say home, I haven’t lived with my parents for 16 years, so I really mean that this will be my third Christmas away from my family. Being away from our families and friends at Christmas and special dates can be tough, but how do you, and your families, cope? If you are worried about being away and feeling lonely, I have a few tips that will hopefully help you, and them, survive spending Christmas abroad!
Shop Online for a Special Gift
The wonderful world of the internet means that we no longer need to battle the hoards in the shops on Christmas eve, and nor do we have an excuse for not exchanging gifts! Shop online at Amazon for great gift ideas – or if you are good enough at planning ahead you could send souvenirs home with friends or DHL!
Send a Christmas Card, or a Postcard
Postcards are great ways to let your loved ones know you are thinking about them, no matter where you are in the world. The only downside is unreliable postal services, and you never really know when your postcard will finally arrive! Moonpig is a great website in the UK, USA & Australia which allows you to personalise cards and gifts such as mugs, calendars and various other items so you can send a gift with your face on to remind your family of you whenever they take a sip of tea.
Survive Christmas Abroad: It’s good to talk
Skype has made being away from home so much easier for me. I actually “see” my parents more now than when I lived in Manchester, as instead of picking up the phone we arrange a skype video call. It’s great to see each other, and although this is subject to sometimes very dodgy wifi connections, when we do chat I feel much closer to home than I really am. I keep in touch with my family regularly through Whatsapp and Facebook too, I can’t imagine how it used to be when we had to wait for letters to arrive in the post! On Christmas day, take the time to skype your family if you can, or at the very least a phone call. It might make you miss them more, but you won’t regret it.
Enjoy something new
Trying something different while you are away can be a great way to occupy your mind and forget that you are so far away from home. Last year I started the year in a special way with a trip to Angel Falls, and taking a dip in the waterfalls on 2nd January helped me realise that this was how I wanted the rest of my year to be too! Encourage your family & loved ones to do the same too – perhaps volunteering at a local shelter can help them take their mind off you, while helping others.
Surviving Christmas Abroad: Keep Your Traditions
It is wonderful to experience new cultures and customs while you are travelling, but sometimes keeping a little taste of home stops you from feeling so far away. Even a photo of a loved one, a familiar chocolate bar or making your favourite dish to share with new friends will help alleviate home sickness. The screen saver of my laptop is a photograph of my family at my brother’s wedding, so every time I turn on my computer I see their smiling faces, and feel a little closer to home. Even watching a Christmas film like Love Actually makes me feel homely!
In the End, It’s Just Another Day
Really, Christmas is just another day. If you have strong religious sentiments or remember specific days for more personal reasons it can definitely be harder to deal with being away from home. But, it is just another day. Tomorrow you will feel better, and the next day even better. Just get through these 24 hours, and after that, the only way is up.
Remember, nothing is forever.
If you are still finding it very difficult, perhaps it is time to take a trip home to take a break. Long term travel takes its toll on us all, and sometimes we all need a taste of home life. And nothing says I love you more than a surprise visit! Although money restraints mean it’s not easy for most of us, there are always ways around it. Or perhaps a trip home a few weeks later will be enough. Once you have a flight booked, you have something to look forward to, and it can make you appreciate your last days travelling even more!
How to Survive Christmas Abroad: Make Yourself At Home
The most important thing is to feel comfortable at Christmas. For me, that means finding something familiar – this year it’ll be a hostel, so I know I won’t be alone on Christmas day. For me, part of travelling is accepting that there are some things I have to give up – but the compromise is worth it. I miss my family and friends every day, and I hope they miss me too, but also understand that this is my life now, and that in order to do what makes me happy there are sacrifices to be made. I am lucky that my parents accept my decision, even if they sometimes think I’m crazy! I know whenever I do go back home, or even talk on the phone, that they want me to be happy. And that they are proud of me for following my dreams.
Wherever you are in the world, I wish you the best for this festive season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, just take a few moments to tell the important people in your life that you love them, and take the time to make new friends wherever you are, so that no-one has to feel lonely this Christmas.
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cover image credit: travelrepublic.co.uk