Backpacking is fun; you’re seeing the world, making new friends, and experiencing things you’d never have had the chance to at home. Whether you’re feasting on incredible street food at Gianyar Night Market in Bali, or camping in Alice Springs, it all makes for incredible memories and stories to share on social media with friends and family back home – well, for 11 months of the year, anyway. Regardless of religious beliefs, Christmas is a special time of year for a lot of people. While you’ll have a whole host of new hostel buddies, spending your first Christmas away from home can be tough. Here’s how to cope when you’re away from home around Christmas time…
Most common worries and how to overcome them
Worry 1: Missing out – FOMO
This is a big one; while everyone has probably had major envy as they scroll through your Instagram feed, the tables can turn over the Christmas period as you long to do ‘regular’ day-to-day things with your loved ones. Don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out) ruin your Christmas!
How to overcome it
Grab the new buddies you’ve made on your trip so far and have an alternative Christmas Day. But integrate where you can with your family and friends, too. Make a phone call or opt for a video chat. Chances are they’re equally as envious of your situation, if not more so, especially when the family arguments start kicking off after one to many red wines…
Heather, 32, said: “I spent Christmas Day on the beach in St Kilda with my travelling friends, drinking and listening to a DJ playing. We had Christmas dinner on plastic plates and played games, and the only thing that made me sad was FaceTiming home on Boxing Day and seeing all of my family together. I overcame this by having a little cry and remembering why I was on the trip in the first place!”
You can even try and replicate some of the stuff you’re missing out on.
“I tried to cook the traditional food we would have at home. It was a bit tricky as you will never be able to replicate mum’s food, but I got close”; said Eider, 28.
Ideas for things to do at Christmas and New Years in Sydney
Worry 2: What about traditions?
You’ll probably miss the things you do year in, year out with your loved ones while you’re away. Jessica, 33, spent Christmas at a hostel in Sydney; on the other side of the world from her family and friends in the UK. She said; “All the Christmas parties and the lead up to Christmas in the UK is what I missed the most… the warm drinks, the dark nights with the pretty lights.”
On the flip side, Sara, 25, spent the Christmas period in the UK, away from her home in Canada. “Being Jewish, Christmas was never a huge deal for us; we do Chanukah as a family, which is around the same time of year.”
“It’s always strange to not be with your family when everybody else is, and being with somebody else’s family, as I was, of course made me feel a little homesick for my own. I missed the Chanukah traditions, namely eating delicious greasy latkes and other such delicacies because there’s no fanfare around it culturally, and because I wasn’t with my family, it just kind of passed me by.”
Ideas for things to do at Christmas and New Years in Melbourne
How to overcome it
Make new traditions! You can even integrate them into your Christmas plans when you return home. Jessica added; “After we ate, we went kayaking – so very different to what it would have been like had I been at home.”
Eider, 28, agreed; “It was nice to have some time off from the usual routine and get to explore the surrounding areas of Sydney. I particularly enjoyed driving all the way up to Seal Rocks and camping there for few nights. It was such a great experience being able to wake up in the middle of the nature with the beach just a few metres from your tent [to celebrate].”
“I got to partake in all the Christmas holiday hubbub that I was always jealous of not having as a kid. I stayed with my friend’s family from the day before Christmas Eve through until New Years and it was ten days of incredible home-cooked food and country walks and sitting by the fireplace and drinking and relaxing – I’m going to miss that a lot this year!” said Sara.
You may even learn something new about yourself, as Jessica added; “I’m glad I experienced Christmas away from my family, as it solidified my love for the traditions we have at home and made me made me appreciate Christmas with my family.”
Worry 3: Will I be lonely?
Loneliness can be a concern when traveling, and over Christmas in particular, especially when you’re used to big family get-togethers.
How to overcome it
Many hostels will put on a Christmas dinner for guests with games, food and general festive spirit. Join in, even if you’re feeling a little homesick! Chances are lots of other people are feeling the same.
Ian, 29, said; “We were all in the same boat, on the other side of the world, thousands of miles away from our families – it was nice to spend it with people like me.”
Jessica added: “Sometimes it’s nice to escape the commercialism – give your presents, and then go off to the other side of the world [and have time for yourself]!”
Check out these top tips for overcoming loneliness.
At the end of the day, while it might not seem it at the time, it’s just one day. In comparison to the incredible experiences you’re having, spending Christmas away from home is a small price to pay.
One of the best parts of travelling is that you have the freedom to make your own path; “I fancied a colder Christmas this year, so I have chosen to stay with a friend I made while travelling at her home in New York this year, and I can’t wait!” – Ian
Author: Tamsin is a London-based travel, women’s lifestyle and commercial content writer, with a love for salted popcorn, fried chicken and, of course, travelling the world. You can follow her on her travels and through life in her 20s on twentiesintransit.com. Twitter: @20sintransit. Instagram: @twentiesintransit