Christmas is pretty darn great. It doesn’t matter where in the world you call home, even the smallest dollop of Christmas cheer can turn the other annual-holidays green with envy. That’s how great Christmas is. Getting the decorations out, putting the tree up, play rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to put the star on top, the smell of eggnog wafting from the kitchen, overindulging on mince pies, pulling crackers, reading god-awful jokes aloud, going to the pub before Midnight Mass, and winding down at work about three-and-a-half weeks before the big day - everything about the holiday season is groovy.
But spending Christmas abroad is even groovier. No. It’s epic. Uber-epic. So uber-epic it’s something we think everyone should do at least three times. Why? Because no one forgets that Christmas they spent overseas, and you’ll end up chatting, laughing, enthusing, talking over one another, and finishing each other’s stories about these festive-adventures with turkey-stuffed mouths at every Christmas that follows.
Spending Christmas abroad is never perfect though. There are moments of total perfection, but never the whole thing. But that’s what makes every festive getaway so much fun and every Christmas vacay story soooo funny.
And with that said, ladies and gentleman, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly truth about spending Christmas abroad. It’s the best.
1. Everywhere in the world celebrates Christmas differently. And that’s exactly why you totes need to do it. There will be moments where you feel immense excitement and absolute despair in equal measures, but these moments never last long. Most of the time, you’ll be lapping up that jaw-hits-floor feeling, which is the second best feeling in the whole world (waking up and thinking it’s Monday only to realise it’s actually Sunday is still the greatest feeling ever). For example: spending every minute of every day on the beach is awesome. But not getting shrouded in festive feelings isn’t. The solution: embrace where you are for what it is. Always.
2. Christmas TV abroad is never the same. It doesn’t matter which country you call home, you’ll always argue it’s got the best selection of festive showings. Go to Germany, and everyone stops what they are doing to catch the annual showing of Dinner For One, but spend it in the UK and you’ll find yourself chomping down mince pies as you watch the GBBO Christmas Special. Wherever you go, though, don’t panic about missing out on your favourite small screen shows - you can always FaceTime grandma and have her hold the phone in front of the TV.
3. There’s no post-dinner clean-up operation. Okay, that’s not always true. You might have booked yourself an Airbnb, in which case you’re going to be greeted by a kitchen sink full pots, pans and turkey carcass on Boxing Day morning. The plus side to that is, you’ll also get to gauge on leftovers for the next two days. But what we all really want to enjoy is both. We want to have zero washing up and lots of leftovers, and the good news is: it’s totes doable. Yup. We’re talking about a catered chalet or villa. That way you won’t have to clean up anything, but you can still spoon all your favourite leftover bits between two slices of bread and, as we all know, nothing beats a Christmas leftovers sandwich.
4. You can do Christmas differently, or do Christmas on steroids. It’s all about where you choose as a destination. Let’s say you’re from the UK, where Christmas is all about little traditions, lots of twinkling lights, festive-y tidbits and praying for just one well-timed day of snow (Brits get sick of the stuff pretty quick). That’s where New York becomes your Christmas on steroids. There’s the unveiling of the sky-tickling tree at Rockefeller Center, the Rockettes doing their thing at Radio City, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the shopper’s paradise and so much more. Now imagine seeing NYC do Christmas when you’re an Aussie used to wearing boardies all day on a beach and throwing your turkey on a barbecue. That’s when NYC get the hashtag #ChristmasDoneDifferent.
5. Take a little piece of home with you. If you want to enjoy all the excitement of doing Christmas somewhere new, but know you’ll miss the little things that make Christmas super-jolly - try taking them with you. That’s right. Try making some space in your suitcase for your Christmas cards, the Home Alone DVD, some tinsel, Monopoly (for the sake of family arguments), the Michael Bublé album, your Rudolf slippers, and anything else you cherish at this time of year.
6. Going somewhere hot is good and bad. It’s good because you’ll be able to wear your favourite bikini, lay down your favourite quick-drying towel and work on your tan. But it will also be too hot to wear your favourite ugly Christmas jumper, which will be a bit disappointing ‘cos what’s Christmas without that reindeer jumper your nan knitted you 8 years ago.
7. You get to go on a Christmas adventure. This is your chance to do something you’ve never done on Christmas day before - and may never get to do again -and that’s awesome. Yeah, it will be a little odd not waking up, going through your stocking, heading to church to sing hymns, opening presents, and then playing a game of Risk with the family before lunch, but you can always do that next year. This time, Christmas is all about pulling on your swimmers and going surfing, or stepping into your retro onesie and hitting the ski slopes, or scuba-diving, Christmas-market hopping, volcano-hiking, Hobie-cat sailing, show-seeing, or a million other memory-making moments that will make this Christmas stand out from the rest.
8. Christmas dinner isn’t quite right. It’ll be good. Maybe even great. But there will always be that little voice in your head saying, “Mum, if you can hear me, please send a Christmas dinner to the Turks & Caicos islands?” Of course, that’s not going to happen. But instead of having legitimate conversations about whether it’s acceptable to have a McDonald’s on Christmas Day, make a pact that you’ll get really stuck into the local traditions and enjoy the local cuisine for what it is because, trust us, you’ll never forget it.
9. You’ll fall in love with your own traditions all over again. Spin the globe in your dad’s office, stop it with your finger and go wherever fate has taken you, one thing is always guaranteed: spending Christmas abroad, surrounded by different cultures and new traditions is oh-so-fun, oh-so-rewarding, and oh-so-enriching. There’s just something about seeing how the rest of the world celebrates Christmas that’s totes amazing. But what’s just as amazing is how much you’ll end up loving and appreciating your own traditions (even if your only tradition is going to da club on Christmas Eve to sing "I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday" with a bunch of equally merry strangers).
10. You’ll realise two things you’ll never forget. No.1: There’s no better way to spend your time than travelling the world, and No.2: There’s no place like home.
And with all that said and celebrated, what are you waiting for? Go and enjoy your first Christmas abroad and revel in the good, the bad and the ugly bits that will make it a Christmas you’ll never forget (or stop talking about at all future Christmas’).
Thanks for reading. For more travelspiration and far-flung adventure ideas, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and, you know, don’t forget to grab yourself the most awesome towel ever made… and some shorts… and a hair wrap... and probably a poncho too. After all, everyone looks good in stripes.