We all know it is hard to be away from family and friends for a long period of time, but once the holidays hit it gets even harder. Sometimes it just isn’t logical to fly all the way home to spend a few days there, its precious time that could be used to travel (or save money). This is my first holiday season away from home and I have gathered a few tips on how to stay sane during the holidays away.
Get Involved in the Local Culture
The holiday season is different in every country, everyone has their own customs and traditions whether it is due to religion, culture, or even just within a certain family. Learning something new and keeping your mind off the holidays at home really helps with the holiday FOMO you are probably experiencing right now. Go out in the city and attend a Christmas market or try some of the local holiday treats (like Turron). If you have a native friend, talk to them about what they do with their family every year and exchange stories about your traditions.
Celebrate with Friends
Whether it is other Americans or just friends from different countries in the same boat as you, it can always help to stick together. I lost count of how many “Friendsgivings” I saw going on during Thanksgiving weekend. I can’t explain how thankful I was for the “Friendsgivings” I got to attend this season. It is really comforting to know you have others in the same position as you, even if it is just within a small gathering. Having gatherings with your friends in your new city will not only bring you closer to your new friends you've made abroad, but also act as a learning experience to see how others celebrate each holiday.
Do A Good Deed
There are always opportunities for volunteering in cities and the Holidays are the perfect time to give back. Asking around or a quick search online can show you all the volunteer opportunities out there. You could also send some secret santa presents to your loved ones at home!
Be A Tourist for a Day
You’d be surprised at how much you don’t know about a city until you do all the “touristy” things. I know that once I move to a new city I avoid the tourist attractions at all costs because I’m a “local” now and don’t need to do them. But, I believe that things are popular for a reason so it can’t hurt to check them out. Take a city bus tour or check out a cathedral, there are always cheap options for touring within a city. If your feeling really adventurous take a day tour somewhere with a group and meet some new friends!
Take Time for Yourself
Now that you have all this time, try to do things for yourself. I think this is the most important one because when your traveling it is really easy to forget to take care of yourself. Make sure you are in good mental and physical health for the holiday season. Buy yourself a Christmas present or treat yourself to a nice dinner. Make use of all this spare time by learning how to cook a new recipe or going to the gym. Having too much free time can be too overwhelming and cause you to just do nothing, but don’t let it slip away, make use of the holiday.
Spending the holidays away from home is hard and it is normal to be lonely or upset, but it doesn’t have to get the best of you. I hope these tips can help you have a great, new, and exciting holiday in your new home away from home.