Traveling long term is a gift; the ability to see and experience new cultures, to step away from your own rat race, and slow down. However, when you’ve been on the road for a while and the holidays roll around, it’s easy to get the blues. You’re away from your own culture and traditions, and you miss your family and friends, so it’s easy to get a bit homesick. I spent one Christmas Eve alone eating leftovers watching a movie; I was so lonely in Vietnam that I vowed to never be alone again during the Holidays.
If your career break travel happens to fall during the holidays, then consider what you can do to avoid the holiday blues.
Christmas in Singapore
When I first traveled around the world I actually planned out my itinerary with the holidays in mind. For me Christmas is all about family. Luckily I happened to have family living in Singapore so when I planned my itinerary, I planned to be in Singapore in December. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made. The familiar food, customs, and humor of my family was just what I needed after 4 months on the road. Plus, they were able to introduce me to different Asian holiday customs in Singapore – so even though I had slowed down my career break travel to spend time with family, I was still experiencing new things in new cultures!
Utilize your Embassy
If you find yourself far away from family and friends when the holidays strike, then consider trying to find other people from your country that are celebrating. I found myself in Sydney, Australia once during American Thanksgiving. I didn’t want to sit around my hotel room watching TV and going to McDonalds for dinner, so I went to the American consulate to ask them if they knew of any American based Thanksgiving celebrations going on in Sydney.
They quickly gave me a paper with a list of the various Expat organizations observing the holiday with traditional dinners. Perfect! I contacted a few and soon found myself eating Turkey dinner surrounded by a bunch of Australians and Americans.
Thanksgiving in Australia
If there was ever a time to use Skype, it’s the holidays! It’s a cheap/free way for you to actually see your family and friends and connect during the season in video. Don’t miss the opportunity to see and the decorations at home. And be sure to share how the country you are in is celebrating the holiday as it will help your family and friends understand what you are going through. If you don’t know what Skype is – you can learn more here and download it for free – Skype – It’s essential for travel!
Embrace the Strangeness
Nothing is forever, so even though you may be in a very foreign culture for the holidays and they don’t have your same traditions, earn everything you can about how they celebrate and embrace the moment. I spent a Christmas in Ho Chi Minh City marveling at how they celebrated. There were remnants of Western culture Christmas, but there were many odd differences too! You can read about those differences in Christmasia! Experiencing Christmas in Vietnam. So, instead of sitting inside wallowing in your loneliness, get out and walk around and see the locals celebrate. You may even get invited to celebrate with them!
Get in contact with the local Tripping group and maybe you’ll find a local that you can spend the holidays with! These types of crowdsourcing groups are great for solo travelers as they will get you connected with locals who have a love of travel.
Are you traveling for the holidays? How have you dealt with the holiday blues while traveling?