How to survive your first Christmas away from home

December 11, 2015
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No matter if you’re travelling abroad or just stuck on the other side of the country, having your first Christmas alone can be filled with homesickness and feelings of FOMO. Simply knowing your friends and family will be celebrating, feasting and getting on the booze without you can be a little disconcerting.

But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with a checklist of ways to survive your first Christmas away from home.

Have a very Skype Christmas

Previously I wrote about Skype helping a long-distance relationship, and virtual chat is equally amazing for Christmas, so you should utilise Skype and Facetime to the max. Before you leave, give your family some pressies to open on Christmas, and watch as they unwrap their presents in a different time zone.

Hold a pre-Christmas

If you’re heading off just before Christmas, organise a pre-Christmas. Do everything you usually would on Christmas. Get your drunk uncle around to swoon over your female cousins, eat so much food you’re put into hibernation, and laugh reluctantly at those crappy Christmas cracker jokes. After your pre-Christmas you won’t feel the need to celebrate again because you’ll be too full and hungover from the first.

Inject a little home into your Christmas abroad

When you’re in a country where everything looks, sounds and smells different, it can really bring on the homesickness, but the little things make a world of difference. Bring along some family Christmas photos with Santa or that horrid jumper your nanna knitted last Christmas. Otherwise download those crooning Michael Bublé carols your mum always swoons over. It’ll make everything feel a little more homely.

Embrace new traditions

When you’re abroad, you’ll find new and quirky things to celebrate. Head along to a local Christmas pageant, attend midnight mass at an orthodox church, or simply head to the local pub and enjoy the warm presence of strangers. Embrace the cultures around you and take part in the local festivities.

Save any presents for the big day

Without fail, someone will surprise you with a Christmas gift or card from home, but hold on to it and open it up on Christmas morning. It will give you something to look forward to on the day.

Adopt a new ‘family’

If you find yourself in a deserted hostel this Christmas, then welcome the people around you and form a new family. Chances are, you won’t be the only one celebrating alone this Christmas. So find some mates and get yourself down to the local generic chain store or fast food restaurant (because they’re usually the only shops open on Christmas) and treat yourself to a little greasy Christmas dinner from a box. Even start a Secret Santa or a present swap for some people in the hostel.    

Try to avoid social media or use it to brag the heck out of your Christmas abroad

Everyone you know will be posting pictures of Christmas feasts and big families on social media, and this will conjure up homesickness and FOMO. Try to have a social media-free day this Christmas and you’ll avoid all the pictures from home. Alternatively, if you’re in the middle of some glorious foreign Christmas dinner or you’re celebrating in some unique and festive way, use social media to brag about it. Make yourself feel good with a little travel brag and you’ll soon be racking up the likes. 

Keegan Thomson

Keegan is studying journalism at the University of Western Sydney. He’s an avid storyteller and global traveller whose likes include fresh bed sheets and Jeff Goldblum movies.

Image: Mike Kniec, Flickr Creative Commons license

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