Christmas. You’re thinking about sitting around an open fire, Slade on the stereo, a pot of mulled wine in between your frosty fingers, surrounded by family and friends, stuffed from a traditional dinner and exhausted from all the gift giving and taking. Christmas for so many of us means this scene, and most importantly, being home with the people you love the most.

But for many of us, many of us travellers especially, Christmas can take on a different meaning. In 2014 I spent Christmas in the Egyptian desert, somewhere near the border with Libya, in a tiny Muslim desert town with almost no other tourists. I was with my best friend and we wore Santa hats at breakfast while devouring plates of hummus under a sandcastle fort on a pleasantly 20 something degree day. Safe to say, this was no Christmas I had imagined, but it was a different kind of Christmas, and one I loved just as much.


This year will be different yet again, as I’ll be spending my holidays on the beaches of Southern India, under swaying coconut trees, living in hammocks and a plate of Thali will most likely be my Christmas dinner of choice. One thing will be different this year, i’ll be alone. Does this suck? I’m not sure yet, but it is certainly not the wintery holiday I imagined. For me, going home isn’t an option just for a day of family celebrations. I’ve got so much more of South Asia I want to see on this trip which is going to take me over into the New Year, and so I’m staying put. Christmas alone it is.

I’ve been thinking a lot about spending Christmas away from home, and a long with some tips from some other Travelettes, here’s a little guide to spending the holidays in somewhere not so homey.


There are both pros and cons to being away from home at Christmas, here’s a few things to consider…

The Pros

  • You get to be in an amazing destination, celebrating the holidays and the new year in style
  • You can avoid all the ‘downsides’ to Christmas. For me that is the horrible boxing day sales, the mayhem in shopping centres around the season, and for all us Europeans- the cold!
  • It’s a great opportunity to see how other cultures around the world celebrate Christmas
  • There’s nothing like making your friends jealous with a shot of you jumping around in paradise in a santa hat while they are shivering away back at home!

The Cons

  • It’s an expensive time to travel, particularly in popular holiday destinations. Accommodation prices will double or triple in some places and flights can be expensive too.
  • You might feel like you’re missing out on spending Christmas with your family and friends back home.
  • You won’t get the perfect traditional Christmas dinner, a ton of presents and all that amazing Christmas TV…

Our Top 5 Tips for spending the holidays away from home…

  1. Plan not to be alone

If you can meet up with friends or family somewhere in the world, it’s great to have a plan where you know you’ll be spending the day surrounded by people you love. If you don’t have that option and are travelling solo, make sure you’re in a place where you’re going to easily meet a lot of other solo travellers and you can share a meal or a few merry drinks with them!


2. Make sure you’re in a place where you can call home if you want to

You may not call home that often, but on a day like Christmas it’s nice to know the option is there if you want to talk to someone familiar. Make sure you’ve chosen accommodation with a wifi connection so you can Skype your loved ones. Or perhaps switching off completely works better for you!

3. Don’t be afraid to seek out some homey comforts

You’ll be surprised how far across the globe Christmas has spread. Ok, so last year in Egypt no one had a clue what Christmas was and I’m pretty sure they were very confused why these crazy European girls were wandering around a desert in wooly santa hats… But in many places around the globe, you’ll find Christmas menu’s in restaurants, Christmas parties and church ceremonies. If you want to go to the 5* hotel to eat a traditional lunch, don’t feel bad for not absorbing yourself in the local culture for a day! Sometimes it’s these little things which can be the most memorable! 


4. Splurge a little!

There’s no shame in spending one night in a slightly fancier hotel than those £3 bungalows you usually go for. Christmas away from home could be the most exciting day ever, but it could also feel like the loneliest, and having a little comfort goes a long way on days like that. Buying yourself a few presents (and wrapping them up and reopening them…) is also a good idea for anyone who loves the gift giving aspect of the holiday!

5. Make sure it’s one you won’t forget (for the right reasons!)

Each day is completely what you make it, and that couldn’t be truer when you’re far away from home on Christmas. Even if you’re not in the place you dreamed about being, you can still have a great day if you want to. Do some of your favourite things, sleep in, eat delicious food, remember how lucky you are to be travelling and enjoy every second of it!


Wherever you are in the world, have a great Christmas from The Travelettes!

Have you ever spent Christmas away from home? Or will you be doing so this year? Let us know any tips or dream Christmas destinations in the comments below!

All photographs by Annapurna Mellor @annapurnauna