How to celebrate Christmas while traveling
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Our family’s best tips to celebrating Christmas while traveling! What to do and what not to do to have a festive season.
I used the think that the perfect family Christmas could only happen at my parents’ house with all of my siblings, my aunts and cousins. I really love traditions, and our family loves to make so many Christmas traditions that it takes days to fit it all in!
Our very first Christmas away from home was in Colmar, France, with my parents, siblings, and our kids. It was so wonderfully different and made us reexamine what was truly necessary to make Christmas wonderful.
Since that Christmas 12 years ago we have spent 7 more Christmases away from home and have grown to love them as much as the Christmases we have at home. We sometimes have big groups and sometimes just our little family, and we find Christmas cheer both ways.
Are you planning on travelling at Christmas?
We have learned some important things that will help you if you decide to spend Christmas away from home.
If you need some great gift ideas check out my travelers wishlist post.
Book an Airbnb for a more homey feel
I always prefer and Airbnb if our family is staying somewhere for more than 2 nights. But it is so wonderful to have an Airbnb over Christmas. It allows you to have a tree, eat your favorite treats, and have more room to relax.
For information on how to find a great Airbnb check out my article on little known tips for booking an Airbnb.
Bring decorations with you
This may sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Over the years we have put together a Christmas box that helps us decorate our Airbnb for Christmas. We use it when we travel somewhere within driving distance, and it has enough Christmas decor to decorate a small house.
For example: fabric swags, tiny wreaths, twinkle lights, and stockings.
If you are flying and can’t pack a box, add some colored paper, tape and scissors to your suitcase. You can cut out snowflakes and hang them from the ceiling, make paper chains or fold origami ornaments.
There was one Christmas that we spent in Europe without our Christmas stockings, so we bought men’s socks at a grocery store, cut out decorations from paper, and glued and taped them to the socks. We had so much fun doing it!
We have also used wrapping paper to cover doors in an Airbnb, and it brought color and fun into the house.
Find out if the homestay or hotel provide a Christmas tree.
Some Airbnb’s will provide a Christmas tree and will decorate it for your stay. If they don’t provide one you can either go buy one on your arrival (check with your host about live trees first, as many won’t allow them), or buy a small artificial tree.
If neither of those are possibilities, find a branch outside and decorate it with lights, paper chains, or pinecones!
Keep the most valued traditions.
I have always felt like the traditions we have are the stories our children will tell. They are important to a family. Don’t forget about them just because you are on vacation. Instead find ways to incorporate them into your celebration in a new place.
For example: If you love to decorate cookies, bring the decorating things you will need. If you volunteer over Christmas find a local opportunity. If you always go to midnight mass, you can find one to attend almost anywhere in the world.
Keep gifts small
By keeping gifts small I mean small in size! Especially when we are flying somewhere over Christmas we keep gifts as tiny as possible. Some of our favorites gifts we have given that were tiny and light are: EarPods, a Nintendo Switch, favorite movies, a makey makey, lol dolls, world’s smallest walkie talkies, portable charger that actually works, kindle books, and coloring books.
Make a new tradition
There will be some new situations when you travel for Christmas, and you can fight it or embrace it! It may even become a new family tradition.
Our kids love to go ice skating on Christmas Day when we go to Quebec City for Christmas and feel like they should do it every year no matter what.
Have your favorite music on hand
It is easier than ever to have your favorite Christmas music at all times. Load your family’s favorite Christmas music on your iPod. All you need is a small speaker and you can have Christmas dance parties, Christmas lullabies and Christmas sing-a-longs.
Bring traditional food with you
Part our our Christmas Eve dinner is a chili dip that our family loves. It calls for canned chili, cream cheese and taco seasoning. (Sounds weird but you try it and you will love it!) It is near impossible to find canned chili in Quebec. We have scoured store after store with no luck. So now we make sure to pack a can of chili in our suitcases.
Cook ahead of time
If you have the luxury of driving you will be able to cook some of your favorite treats and dinners and bring them with you. We do this on every road trip we take. I don’t have to bring a million unusual spices or baking trays, or worry about if the house has a well-stocked kitchen. It helps us to stay within our budget, and it frees me from cooking during our vacation!
We like to load up our plug-in cooler when we take road trips. It keeps all of our food cold without ice, and it plugs in to our car’s DC outlet as well as a regular 110v outlet.
Take an Instant Pot
This tip goes hand in hand with cooking ahead of time. We have more options in our Airbnb’s when we don’t have to worry about a fully stocked kitchen. We take our Instant Pot with us and use it to reheat our favorite Christmas soup, make our favorite hot chocolate and cook a last minute dinner.
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Find Christmas events happening near you
Most of the Western world celebrates Christmas, and there are sure to be local Christmas events wherever you travel. My favorite way to find things to do for the holidays is to check the tourism board. They will have the most up to date and accurate information.
In addition, I will post a query on the travel boards at TripAdvisor, and often a local will point me in the right direction.
If I need more options I will find a fabulous travel blog and follow it to a tee!
Figure out where Santa is visiting.
If your family is visited by Santa at Christmas, you will have to decide what he will do when you are on vacation. There are lots of options. Santa is a very agreeable fellow, and he will be sure to do what is best for you.
We generally send a note to Santa telling him where we are for Christmas. That way he is prepared and will be able to find us even though we are away from home.
Some families choose to have Santa leave presents at their house, and the kids get to open them when they get back from vacation. Or, if a present is too bulky to get home, Santa will often leave a picture of the item for a fun Christmas morning surprise while delivering the item to home.
Other families get their vacation provided by Santa and just open stockings while they are traveling.
No matter how Santa visits, there are always surprises at the end and that makes kids happy no matter what!
Buy gifts for each other at your destination.
Part of the fun of vacation are all the souvenirs you can take back to remember your trip. A great way to get into the Christmas spirit is by shopping for souvenirs for each other.
We try to go to a Christmas market or a local store the day before Christmas and buy small gifts for each other. It gets us in the spirit of giving, and we are able to find awesome things we wouldn’t find at home.
For example: In Colmar, France, each of our kids bought each other these hats that were shaped like storks (the bird of Alsace) and they were thrilled with them!
What is the best way to spend Christmas on vacation?
No matter how you choose to spend Christmas when you are on vacation, it will be successful. The fact that your family is together and making memories means it will be of great value. If you have any other tips that we forgot please comment below!
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Last update on 2023-05-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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