7 tips for maximum merriness
by Jennifer Mitchell
If you’re traveling abroad or stateside during the holidays, whether by choice or circumstance, you may experience homesickness or feel disconnected, especially if you’re traveling alone. To maximize your merriness this holiday season, we have a few tips for bringing traditions with you and discovering new ones.
1. Embrace new holiday traditions.
Rather than focusing on the traditions you’re missing, think about creating new ones—even if only for one year. You may find that telling tales of the Yule Lads or lighting up fireworks on Christmas Day are traditions you want to bring home.
2. Spend time with local families.
One of the greatest parts of the holidays is spending time with loved ones. Surround yourself with fellow travelers or spend the holidays with a local family by using rental sites like Homestay or Couchsurfing. If you’re in a country that doesn’t celebrate your most beloved holidays, lean into local holidays. Even when experiencing something unfamiliar, the sense of camaraderie will help power you through the holidays you’re unable to celebrate back home.
3. Call home on holidays.
Time spent with local families will do your soul some good, but nothing can take the place of the real thing. Call, FaceTime or Skype with your friends and family members while they’re preparing a turkey dinner, opening presents or taking part in other fun holiday traditions. You might not physically be there, but you’ll be able to participate in your own way.
4. Take a vacation from social media.
Though a video call home is a great idea, be sure to unplug once you’re done. Looking at your friends’ and family members’ holiday pics on Instagram could give you serious FOMO.
5. Volunteer during the holidays.
The holidays are the perfect time to open your hearts and give to those less fortunate. If volunteering during the holidays is one of your traditions, being abroad shouldn’t stop you from giving back. Check out sites like Idealist or VolunteerMatch to find day- or week-long volunteer opportunities wherever you are.
6. Find an expat community.
If there are specific traditions you can’t live without like turkey on Thanksgiving or singing Christmas carols, search for an expat community in the area you’re in. Connect with them and make plans to celebrate the holidays like you would back home.
7. Pack some holiday spirit in your suitcase.
A pine-scented candle reminiscent of a Christmas tree, some fairy lights and your festive ugly holiday sweater can make your temporary home-away-home seem, well, homey this time of year. For tips on making room in your suitcase for special holiday items, check out our post on packing for an extended trip.
Have tips for spreading holiday cheer while away from home? Share them in the comments below or post on social with the hashtag #NoSmallPlan. If a loved one is traveling over the holidays and you want to send them a holiday care package to remind them of home, check out our gift ideas for travel lovers.
Jennifer Mitchell is a blogger, comedian, freelance copywriter and travel enthusiast. Kara Walsh is the Founder of No Small Plan.