A lot of travel goes on around Christmas and New Year’s – people head home to spend time with family, or meet friends somewhere in their own country. But Christmas is also a great time to experience the wider world. See our winter holiday/vacation travel guide for tips on how to stay sane.

So, why travel at Christmas?

To listen, hit play below or find episode 84 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Visit family far far away

Most people have family living abroad – what better time to catch up with them than at Christmas? Or perhaps you’re the person far far away – you could arrange to meet your family in some random location for a family Christmas you’ll never forget.

Christmas lunch with Linda's family usually means a picnic.
Christmas lunch with Linda’s family usually means a picnic.

Get away from family

By the same token, most of us have spent many, many Christmases at home, having the same arguments and eating the same overcooked turkey (or other, culturally appropriate meal). Give yourself a year off the treadmill and do something completely different.

See the Christmas markets and nativity scenes

If you’re wondering where to head, Europe is a good starting place. Many cities have Christmas markets (I like the ones in Vienna and Prague), and others celebrate by building nativity scenes everywhere (Malta is especially prone to this). Or just choose a location and find out when you get there how Christmas is celebrated.

european christmas markets - prague christmas markets - czech republic
Linda holds her gluwein at the Prague Christmas Markets.

Find out about Christmas in Italy – home of many a nativity grotto – at Jessica’s site or Cherrye’s blog.

Get some sun

You might have noticed, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, that Christmas is usually quite cold. But it doesn’t have to be. Christmas means summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and beach barbecues and picnics are normal Christmas meals. You know you need some Vitamin D – so head to Australia and New Zealand with a suitcase full of shorts.

Experience a completely different Christmas

If at all possible, join a local family somewhere overseas. They’ll know all the Christmas traditions and will probably be more than happy to teach you all about them. One of our most memorable Christmases was Christmas 2007, spent in Wustrow, Germany, with an ex-student and her non-English-speaking family. We were adopted for a week, showered with gifts and plied with traditional German Christmas food. It was amazing.

If you can’t get in with a family, celebrate with old or new friends – get a group of expats together for a meal or travel with your best mates.

French Canadians tend to celebrate on the eve & through the night: & eat tourtiere (meat pie), yule log cake, pig’s feet stew, and lots more goodies. cultoftravel

Skip Christmas altogether

Sometimes Christmas can be a bit much. If you’re feeling a bit Scroogey, it’s easier to avoid Christmas if you’re not constantly surrounded by it. Head to Asia – you can find some celebration if you look for it, but it’s a lot more low-key.

In Korea, I was told Christmas is just a day to take your girlfriend out. Not a real family holiday. In Thailand, I’ve only noticed stuff at tourist hotels. Other than that, it is a non event. Gary

It’s similar in China; Christmas there sounded like Valentine’s Day in the US. Only with different decor.Italylogue

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Your Christmas

Please let us know how you celebrate Christmas in the comments. What’s normal in your part of the world or what “foreign” Christmases have you experienced?

Your thoughts on "Travel at Christmas podcast"

  • At home in the US, being Hindu and all, didnt do much of anything. When we were little, we had a tree, but gave that up when it became worn out. We went to Denny's for a full on American bfast ( only restaurant open), we'd watch the Xmas parade on TV, and at night, go to the movies. Us and our jewish friends.

    on December 20, 2008 at 6:48 pm Reply
  • I listened to this podcast as I was driving "home" for Christmas, to my family's house in Pennsylvania (Mid-Atlantic US). And just as Linda was getting all gleeful about Christmas in summer, a huge chunk of ice flew off the roof of the truck ahead of me and almost cracked my windshield! Makes me long for some picnics on the beach, for sure! My family is Slovak, and we always celebrated the more traditional part of the holiday (bizarre Slovak foods, midnight mass, etc) on Christmas Eve. But then we have another more typically-American meal (turkey and LOTS of carbs) on Christmas Day. So I guess we get the best of both worlds, although my waistline doesn't necessarily see it that way. Hope Santa brings you lots of goodies! :)

    on December 24, 2008 at 5:29 am Reply
    • The celebrations sounds delicious. I'm not too sure about the ice though! Drive safely, Sonia.

      on December 24, 2008 at 6:57 am Reply
  • […] horse races, to events like the Chelsea Flower Show. There are celebrations all over the city for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and almost every other major holiday will be well-represented somewhere […]

    on August 24, 2015 at 7:00 am Reply
  • […] Christmas markets pop up all over Europe in late November, but Vienna’s are a bit different. For one thing, there’s not just one market; several are scattered throughout the city –- and the setting is incredible. Warm yourself up with a glass of gluhwein (mulled wine) or a hot chocolate. […]

    on June 13, 2017 at 11:56 pm Reply

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