A Traveller’s Guide to Surviving Homesickness this Christmas

Homesickness while travelling is a strange thing. You could be in the most beautiful corner of the world, surrounded by all your new friends, sipping on cocktails while sunning it up on a beach, and still find that you have those fleeting moments where you miss home.

Even for the most experienced of nomads, it’s natural as human beings to yearn familiarity from time-to-time, so it’s inevitable these feelings are bound to pop up during the festive season. After all, Christmas is a time where so much emphasis is put on being with family and being so far away from them during this time can prove to be difficult.

Last year, I spent the festive period in Hanoi (Vietnam) and whilst it wasn’t my first Christmas away from my family, it was my first Christmas abroad. Throughout my travels, I was quite fortunate not to experience homesickness too often, but without a mince pie or glass of mulled wine in sight…boy did it hit me like a ton of bricks on Christmas Day.

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this sense of nostalgia and here are some tips on how I dealt with the homesickness holiday blues.

Slow down and find a base for a week or so

Initially when I arrived in Vietnam, I wasn’t planning on spending two weeks in Hanoi – it kind of just happened. But looking back I think having a base certainly helped ease the feeling of missing home. Giving yourself enough time in one place not only allows some time to relax, but gives you a great opportunity to really get to know a  place more deeply and make some new friends to spend the holidays with. Creating a sense of familiarity could really help you feel more at home in your new surroundings.

A Traveller's Guide to Surviving Homesickness This Christmas
Find festive events or organise your own

Even if Christmas isn’t widely celebrated where you are, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on celebrating. In Hanoi, I was lucky enough to be staying at a hostel which pulled out all the stops on the big day to ensure we had a great time – an endless supply of free festive punch; a “traditional” turkey dinner with all the trimmings; plus an awesome party (of which my memory is a little hazey!). But if this isn’t possible for you, why not arrange your own special gathering or event?

A Traveller's Guide to Surviving Homesickness This Christmas
Arrange a “Secret Santa” with your travel buddies

Christmas is a time for giving, so why not spread a little festive cheer by arranging a “Secret Santa” gift exchange with your fellow travel mates? It doesn’t have to eat into your budget too much…and even the silliest of gifts can put a smile on someone’s face.

Get a taste of home and eat some familiar food 

If a traditional turkey dinner isn’t on the menu this Christmas, try and find some alternative foods that give you a taste of home life. Only at Christmas can you get away with overindulging, so treating yourself to some home comforts won’t go a miss! Every year we have a Godwin family tradition of egg sarnies in the morning…so when I woke up in the hostel that morning, that’s exactly what I had!

A Traveller's Guide to Surviving Homesickness This Christmas

Remember all the Christmas hassles you get to escape this year

No battling the shopping crowds and last-minute rushing around to buy presents. No having to make pleasantries with family members you have to pretend to like. No family arguments over what’s the best way to cook the turkey or Yorkshire puds. Imagine that – a Christmas where you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want! Embrace it!

Connect with friends and family at home 

Just because you’re not physically in the same place as your family, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all your favourite traditions. With technology today, it’s easy enough to participate in holiday events at home via Skype or Facetime. So make sure you plan ahead and schedule in a suitable time to call them…after all, they are probably missing you too and would welcome a catch-up at this special time of year.

A Traveller's Guide to Surviving Homesickness This Christmas

Enjoy Christmas, wherever you are in the world! 

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a new place, so try not to dwell on your homesickness and do your best to make the most of the experience. Find a unique and meaningful way to celebrate to make this a Christmas to remember. And who knows, you may even pick up some new traditions from all your new worldly friends. The better the memories you make, the better the stories you’ll have to share when you do go home.

So here’s to a happy (and different!) Christmas abroad!

Do you have any other tips for travellers spending Christmas overseas

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Ayla
    December 23, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    We celebrated Christmas in India two years ago and it was so strange. I massively missed my family and it felt like we completely skipped Christmas as they don’t celebrate it out there so there were no festivities at all. It’s nice that you did get to celebrate with lots of others though and I’m sure the Santa hats made it feel all Christmassy! Still, like you said, it is amazing to experience a Christmas abroad at least once. This year I’ll be staying at home though! Have a lovely Xmas! 🙂

    • Reply
      whereisnoodles
      December 26, 2015 at 11:05 am

      Just read your post on it Ayla and can definitely relate! While they did make it festive for us in the hostel, it still wasn’t quite the same! Still it was certainly a Christmas I won’t forget and I think we made the most of it! The santa hats certainly helped! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas at home! 🙂

  • Reply
    Zascha
    December 29, 2015 at 11:14 am

    These are great ideas. I had to spend one Christmas away from my family a couple of years ago and I tried to get the best out of it. It was strange being away, but I had a good time after all. Happy New Year 🙂

    • Reply
      whereisnoodles
      December 29, 2015 at 11:32 am

      Glad to hear you managed to have a good one. Wishing you a very happy new year 🙂

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