Ask The Travel Coach: Home(sick?) For The HolidaysLost in the Mail — By Alex B on December 13, 2011 at 3:00 am
Recently we announced the launch of our newest feature, Ask the Travel Coach! Life Sabbatical Coach Tara Russell has joined the Lost Girls team to act as our resident Travel Coach in Residence to answer questions from readers in our brand-new monthly feature. Readers will submit questions here, and one will be answered in each month’s column. Here’s December’s question, with a focus on homesickness.
I’m planning to leave for a year-long RTW trip next summer so will be away during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Of course I’m really excited about my trip but am also concerned about being homesick during the holidays. Do you have any advice for those of us who will be globetrotting during the holiday season? – Ethan T., Los Angeles, CA
Thanks for your question. This is a great one to look at heading into December given that many travelers who are on the road long-term have to create a holiday home-away-from-home at one point or another in their journey. The great news is that with an open mind, some creativity and basic preparations, spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Years abroad can be an integral and enriching part of your adventure! Read on for some tips on how to make the season bright, no matter where you find yourself this year…
Location, Location, Location
One of the easiest ways to create the holiday experience you hope for is to choose your location wisely. When traveling abroad, there are certain countries (and even regions within countries) where a particular holiday will be a bigger deal than it may be elsewhere. Knowing this will help you choose the right option for you. For example, if you are traveling in India and want to celebrate Christmas, head to Goa – as a former Portuguese colony, Christmas celebrations will be prominent. If you prefer to skip the holiday altogether, you can consider spending it in Varanasi – in a city that is a deeply holy site for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, you’ll likely find that December 25th is just another day that slips by like any other during your trip.
Embrace Local Traditions
Whether it means decorating a mango tree in Panaji or lighting a menorah in Tel Aviv, celebrating St. Stephen’s Day in Dublin or St. Basil’s Day in Athens, embracing regional traditions is a wonderful way to combat holiday homesickness and connect with locals at the same time! Internet research about your destination is a good way to get an overview of what to expect but the best way to find out how locals prefer to celebrate is to ask – this is a great conversation starter and might even garner you some holiday invitations!
Adapt Your Favorites
Ask yourself what your favorite aspects of the holidays were at home and then figure out how you can adapt those traditions for the road. Did you enjoy shopping for gifts? Hit up a local market and have a blast browsing for truly unique presents to ship home. (Local newspapers and postcards make amazing wrapping-paper and holiday card substitutes.) Did you love preparing lavish holiday meals? Consider taking a cooking class. When your return home for the next holiday season you can share your new holiday favorites – Massaman curry and sticky rice with mango!
Be An Ambassador
As well as opening yourself up to local holiday traditions, it is often a great idea to share your own!
Some of my fondest travel memories are from the years when my younger sister lived in Paris and would host an annual Thanksgiving dinner for fellow students. I would fly over each year with a suitcase filled with cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie mix and Stove Top stuffing and we would whip up a feast in her miniscule Parisian kitchen surrounded by friends and languages from all over the world.
Many people choose to volunteer during the holiday season in the States and being on the road is another wonderful opportunity to do so. Once you know where you plan to be during the holiday season, research ways you can volunteer and give back to the local community while you there.
Work the Web
It’s likely that you will be using technology to stay connected and make the world feel smaller during your trip and the holidays are a great time to maximize this. Take advantage of Facebook, Twitter and Skype to keep in touch with family, friends and loved ones; websites like Couchsurfing and AirBnB to find unique and cozy accommodations during the season; and sites like PaperlessPost to send a beautiful holiday ecard from wherever you happen to be!
Do you have other tips for making the season bright on the road? Any favorite memories of traveling during the holidays? If so, please share in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!
Tara Russell, CPCC, CDC is a “Life Sabbatical & Long-term Travel Coach” – a Certified Life and Career Coach with a passion for working with clients who dream of taking time off to travel, live, work, study or volunteer abroad. As the Founder and President of Three Month Visa Coaching and Consulting, her mission is to empower her clients to transform their lives (and ultimately the world at large), through meaningful international travel experiences. She is widely considered to be a national thought leader on the topics of career breaks and travel sabbaticals and has been featured in myriad online and print media outlets including New York Magazine, USA Today Travel, The Huffington Post, Travel & Leisure, The Christian Science Monitor and msnbc.com.
If you’re ready to take your travel dreams down off the shelf and make them happen, contact Tara TODAY – she’ll get you off the couch and on the plane!
Image courtesy of housebeautiful.com.