Being away for the holidays can be tough. You’re in a different country and without your friends and family during the most festive time of the year. So, what’s the best way to get through the holidays when you’re far from home?
Join an expat group
No matter where you are, there are generally going to be people who are in the same boat. There is bound to be an expat group or organisation you can get in touch with so you feel a little less homesick and a little more connected while you’re away during Christmas. Find people who are in a similar situation as you, start connecting and organise to do something together for the holidays.
If you’re backpacking, living abroad, or you just find yourself away from home during the Christmas season for work, then look out for a travel buddy. You might meet them through your hotel or hostel, through an expat community or even down at the local pub. Start making friends and find out what your fellow travellers are doing for Christmas; they might be celebrating it on the road, or they might be staying put for the holidays and invite you to be part of it.
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When in Rome
Do what the locals do. Find out how they celebrate Christmas — are there any Christmas festivals? Are there any events you can head along to? Learn about Christmas in your area and be a part of the festivities. Take photos and document it all. Perhaps you know some locals who wouldn’t mind inviting you to join in on their Christmas festivities? Put the word out to locals you know that you’re not sure what to do for the holidays and they might have some ideas for you, or they might invite you to spend it with them.
If you’re free on Christmas Day or around the holiday season and you’re not sure how to spend it, why not get in touch with a local charitable organisation that might need volunteers. Get in touch and ask about how you can get involved. You could help give gifts to children in poor neighbourhoods, serve food in a centre for homeless people, or simply spend it with the elderly at an aged care facility who are without family.
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If you do have a community of people around you made up of friends, workmates and acquaintances, then why not organise a Christmas lunch or dinner? It doesn’t necessarily have to be on Christmas Day, it could be in the weeks leading up to it. But at least it will give you that feeling of family and community during the holidays which is what it’s all about, after all.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like speaking to friends and family during the holidays. So pick up the phone or log into Skype and make a call to those you care about. A quick conversation and hearing the voices of those you love on the other end of the line can at first make you feel a bit nostalgic, but ultimately you’ll be feeling pretty grateful as well.