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Boats in Sydney Harbour with the Sydney Opera House in the background

Christmas Abroad Whilst Travelling

By Charlie Burch

Last updated: 12th December 2014

Christmas in Australia!

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a few Christmas’s abroad, Australia being my first as part of my big round the world trip!

Before we left the UK one of our big decisions was “Where do we spend Christmas and New Years Eve” it was either Thailand considering a full moon party or Sydney and a BBQ for Christmas Day and the fireworks for New Years.

Sydney won! We managed to get a full moon party in Thailand in November (we didn’t want to miss out on that!) and then made our way to Sydney around the 20th December.

Sydney is so busy at Christmas so a bit of advice – book accommodation in advance! Its best to have something booked from around the 20th of December until around the 5th January. We were very lucky and found a decent enough hostel for a couple of weeks.

I’m not heartless, however I didn’t think about my family for one second over Christmas! This was because I was surrounded by new friends and great people. I did give my parents a call on the 23rd of December and effectively told them I was going to be drinking for the next few days.

We had signed up to a Christmas Eve all you can drink Harbour cruise, and we made the most of it!! It was a great night.

The next morning we debated wasting the day in bed, or getting up and having a Christmas Dinner. After dragging ourselves out of bed we met up with our friends in the nice hostel and arranged a Christmas Dinner at a local bar, it wasn’t like Mum’s but it hit the spot and was a good laugh.

People sitting on a table at a bar with Santa hats on


After our Christmas dinner it was decided that we had to take the opportunity to go to the beach so we could tell everyone we had been to the beach on Christmas day!  We jumped into a couple of taxi’s and headed to Bondi. Although it was getting a bit late we had a nice walk along the beach and a good chat about the night before!

We finished the day with a Christmas film at the nice hostel.

Christmas in Central America!

The next Christmas I spent abroad was part of the 6 months I spent travelling through Central America. I went from Mexico to Panama and then on to Colombia!

It was the first time I’ve travelled by myself, and I absolutely loved it.

Within the first day in Mexico, I’d met a guy called Magnus from Norway. I ended up travelling with him for the next two months, and we spent Christmas and New Years together.

I had made no plans for this Christmas at all. I was having so much fun climbing volcanoes, learning Spanish, going white water rafting and so much more that Christmas felt almost insignificant compared to everything going on around me!

We had been travelling around Guatemala about a week before Christmas and met a few people who had started asking what everyone’s plans for Christmas were. We all decided to spend Christmas day itself on the island of Roatan. There were about 10 of us in total, 4 English, 2 Irish, 3 Australian, and a Norwegian and we were lucky enough to hire an apartment with cooking facilities.

The Irish couple took control, and cooked us a proper roast dinner, although Chicken was the only choice of meat. Magnus talked us through the traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner, eaten on Christmas Eve, and for him would have been boiled cod with boiled potatoes (this also varied depending where you are from in Norway). No thanks mate, take Roast chicken any day of the week!

As well as playing loads of card games, charades and all of our traditional ideas (minus the boild cod!) we spent Christmas morning on the beach and the afternoon eating and drinking!! Perfect!

I’ve put together a couple of tips for anyone spending Christmas away from home whilst travelling

– Ensure you have accommodation booked for the Christmas period

– Organize a ‘Secret Santa’ with a set budget for the group you are travelling with/new friends you have made

– Buy yourself a present (yes really!) Because you never really need an excuse and it will always be something to remember the Christmas you spent away

– Get some friends together and decorations for your hostel (as long as it is allowed!) to bring a bit of festive cheer

– Plan a call/video call with your family around the festive period (it doesn’t have to be on Christmas day) to catch up on what’s been happening back home and more importantly to make them jealous of where you are spending Christmas!

– Embrace different cultures. You will meet fellow travelers of all nationalities and as I experienced, everyone will have a different Christmas ‘tradition’. You never know, you could find one you like more than roast turkey!

– And lastly enjoy it! Just with every other part of travelling it’s a new experience and you should make the most of it!

So if you are lucky enough to be travelling this Christmas, have fun – I’m jealous!

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