It’s that time of year… the festive season. Travelling or being away from home during this time of year can be hard especially if you are travelling solo.
The two big questions that I get asked a lot during this time of year are: “ain’t you lonely at this time of year?” and “don’t you miss your family and friends back home?” I would be lying if I said I don’t miss my family and friends however there is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely during the festive season. This year will be my third Christmas away from my home, family, and friends but I’ve never felt ‘lonely’ even if I am on my own.
Here are 10 tips on how I survived the festive season whilst travelling solo – so far 😊:
1 – Get your surroundings involved (if you can) -
My first Christmas (and New Year - 2015) away from home, I was in Thailand as a TEFL teacher. I dressed up as Mrs Santa Clause and got involved in the festive celebrations with my students at school. We had a whole day of celebrations on Christmas Eve, including activities like card making, dancing, quizzes, story-telling, language games – it was such a fun day and the kids had a blast…..
2 - Make friends with others –
My first Christmas day (in 2015) spent on the beach in Krabi (in Thailand). Though I was there as a ‘solo traveller’, trust me when I say I wasn’t lonely. I met so many other travellers and locals that on Christmas morning, I was having breakfast with my new friends and was invited to spend the day at a local Buddhist temple in mediation. The afternoon was spent sitting around the pool enjoying a traditional Thai dinner.
3 – Go on a tour -
My 2016 Christmas was spent on a tour travelling around Ireland with other solo travellers. I had such as an amazing time on this tour, exploring the beauty of Ireland, indulging in Irish beer and activities (like the annual ‘dip’ in the ocean with the locals 😊). And to top off an awesome tour, I added another ten travellers to my friendships list.
4 - Enjoy the Christmas markets and winter wonderlands
I love everything about Christmas including the markets, mulled cider (and wine) and the stunning light displays. This year (2017) I made a “festive markets” list of the UK markets and winter wonderlands I wanted to visit. I was able to tick off London’s Winter Wonderland; London’s Southbank Christmas markets; Bath’s Christmas markets and Oxford’s Christmas markets. Last year (2016) I ticked off Edinborough’s Christmas/New Year markets and Dublin’s Christmas markets.
5 – Have an orphan Christmas dinner -
This year (2017), my original plans had fallen through (my arranged WWOOFing placement on a local farm was cancelled due to sickness) ☹. Though I was happy to spend Christmas day on my own, I found myself invited to a friend of a friends orphan Christmas dinner. Every year my friend’s friend opens her door for those who don’t have friends or family to spend Christmas with or for those who are away from their home. I found myself surrounded by at least 15-20 other ‘orphans’ talking, enjoying each other’s company and having an amazing home-cooked meal.
6 – Have access to internet –
Though I’ve been away from home since 2015, I always call home on Christmas Eve night (which turns about to be early Christmas morning in Australia) via either Skype or Messager (video calling). I chat to all the family members and catch up with what everyone has been up too and their plans for the next year. I also catch up with my best friends and their family, and send messages and photos to my friends.
7 – Volunteer (somewhere, anywhere) –
During the festive season build up, I WWOOFed on a farm helping in the garden but also helping with the setup of their annual Christmas shop and Christmas story and carols fundraising night. And as I commented in number 5, I had arranged to WWOOF on a local farm on Christmas however unfortunately it was cancelled due to sickness. There is nothing more satisfying then leaning a hand and volunteering your time to help others especially during this time of year. Also, you will find there are a ton of charities asking for help over the festive season too.
8 – Practice your photography/movie making –
I love practicing my photography (and I’m in the very early stages of learning of movie making). For me, there is no better season to take my camera out and go hunting for some spectacular Christmas light displays especially if you’re in a new town. But hey, there are some stunning sites in your own backyard too 😉.
9 – Don’t forget ‘me’ time –
This time of year can be overwhelming, trust me I know. I suffer with anxiety and find that I can get very overwhelmed and anxious at this time of year. This year, after suffering from an anxiety attack I admitted that I hadn’t ‘balanced myself’ between work, little sleep, work, travel, little sleep, learning and festive celebrations = this was my life during the festive season. I skipped on the gym (because I was working up to 10 hours per day and tired by the time I got home), meditation (I was falling asleep when I actually found time to stop), eating and drinking properly (I was eating when I had the time and whatever I could grab in passing), and sleeping properly (I was so ‘wired’ before bed that it was taking me hours to fall asleep only to wake during the night then up early the next morning). Do yourself a huge favour, add ‘me’ time and find a balance between everything you got going on to keep healthy.
10 – Social Media (pages and groups) –
I know this sounds weird but bear with me on this. I’m a member of many Facebook groups and pages where the members are solo travellers from all around the world. There are many posts and activities are posted asking if members would be interested in ‘catching up’ and celebrating the festive season together – just like orphan Christmas celebrations. Also, consider registering with a local ‘Meet Up’ site (and app) in the area you’re currently staying in. I attended a Christmas vegan dinner in Reading (UK) through ‘Meet Up Reading’ site and had the best night and picked up vegan tips from cooking to hair dye to clothing.
There are many tips to keep survive the festive season when you are travelling solo. Just because you are travelling alone, it doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. If you make yourself available and be willing to put yourself out there, you will be amazed just how you can spend your festive season and Christmas day. Who knows, you might find yourself making new friends and new memories to write home about..