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Spending Christmas Abroad Alone: The Best Holiday Gift

Alright, I know what you’re thinking, why in the world would I want to spend Christmas alone, without my friends and family? Well before you pipe in and react, I’d like you to reflect on something for a moment. Ask yourself, what makes me feel so opposed to the idea of spending Christmas abroad alone? Then look inside, and observe from where these thoughts are coming. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you have some fear, sadness, anxiety or maybe even shame around spending the holidays alone. Don’t worry though you’ll get through it. Whether you believe it right now or not, the best gift this holiday season is spending Christmas alone. If you’re looking for some real answers as to why this is, continue reading. With that said, be prepared, I’m diving deep on this one.

As a fellow expat, nomad, hippie, or traveling vagabond (however you want to call it), I can relate with spending the holidays alone and let me say, the first time isn’t easy, but rest assured, the experience is one to be cherished. I’ve been living abroad for over six years and have spent most holidays away from my family, mostly due to work or lack of funds. This year, I could very well travel back home to Canada or spend Christmas in Barcelona with my friends; however, I am choosing to be alone for Christmas. If you’re looking for some basic ideas on things to do while spending the holidays alone, I’ll touch on that shortly.

Let’s Dive Deep

First things first, spending Christmas holidays alone abroad is completely normal. Whether it’s out of necessity or free will I assure you, you’re going to have a great time, that is if you can reframe your beliefs about being alone for Christmas. Let me share with you why being alone for Christmas is one of the best gifts you can give yourself this year, and why more of us should experience the holidays alone from time to time. Also, allow me to sprinkle in a few of my helpful hacks for spending Christmas away from home. My aim is that by sharing my experiences with you, you’ll be able to reframe any negative or limiting beliefs about spending the holidays alone. Instead, you’ll start to see it as one of the best times of the year to take time for yourself. I’ve also included some gems of wisdom throughout so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety; however, if you do need to skim it, that’s completely okay too. I’ve italicized the gems so you can pick them out easily.

Before we begin, remember one important thing, and that is, being alone and feeling lonely are two entirely different things.

Alone for Christmas

If you find yourself alone this year for Christmas, my #1 suggestion is to embrace the moment of being alone. Yes, that’s right, relish in this moment for it is more precious and more valuable than you could imagine.

Yes, being alone abroad is incredible for ‘finding yourself,’ but I’m not speaking about this here. I’ve heard many times from my friends, ‘I’m so sick of spending the holidays alone, I just want to share it with someone.’ There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend the holidays with loved ones; however, many people are missing the message.

There are countless articles with lists of tips and tricks about how to survive Christmas Eve or Christmas day alone by finding ways not to be alone. I can’t help but shake my head and ask, why do we as a society have such a hard time just being? Here are a few of the suggestions other bloggers are making to survive Christmas alone.

Surviving Christmas Day Alone

  1. Skype, Facetime, Facebook message with friends and family
  2. Shop online
  3. Book a city tour
  4. Stay at a busy hostel
  5. Contact with local expats or travelers
  6. Volunteer
  7. Do something that reminds you of home
  8. Catch up on Netflix
  9. Stay in your pajamas all day
  10.  Host an orphan Christmas
There’s nothing wrong with any of the above, but they’re all very much just the norm. As I said, the richest experiences come from diving deep, which is precisely my objective here.

Helpful Hack #1

Understanding that spending Christmas abroad alone has nothing really to do with being alone, and everything to do with simply being.

The key is, honoring the moment that is now without trying to be somewhere else. Where you need to be is right where you are.

Have I lost you? If so, remember one thing.

Rather than finding ways not to be alone on Christmas, try something else instead. Honor and embrace this moment of being alone. It’s as simple as that. The beauty that comes out of it will surprise you; start by trusting in it, stop thinking and start being.

Helpful Hack #2

The best way to enjoy Christmas away from home is by first asking yourself a few critical questions. I mentioned them at the start, but in case you need a refresher here they are again.
  • What makes me feel so opposed to the idea of spending Christmas abroad alone?
  • From where are my negative thoughts and feelings about Christmas alone originating?
Once you’ve found the answer to these questions, you can start to reframe your beliefs around spending Christmas alone. How? By rephrasing your thoughts based on your emotions and feelings towards them. Use these as your roadmap to help you gain more understanding and insight into the root of what you feel and why. Think about how you want to feel and write in the present tense as if you’re already feeling this way. Doing so brings you into a higher vibrational frequency and allows you to step into your power.

Here’s an example of the exercise to demonstrate how to write out a limiting belief and then reframe it.

Instead of this - Being alone and away from my family on Christmas makes me sad and miss home.

Reframe to this - I am grateful that even when I am away from my family on Christmas, I know I am connected to them, this brings me joy and fills me with good energy.

It’s not an easy practice at first, but its one of the best ways to reframe your beliefs. If you know you’ll be spending a holiday alone, try this practice. Starting on December 1st, and every day leading up to Christmas; write out one limiting belief you have about spending the holidays alone. The next step is to flip it around as I’ve shared above. The first few days may be difficult, but believe me, it gets easier. Best of all, when you start reframing your beliefs about one thing, you’ll see the trickle-down effect in all aspects of your life.

Christmas Holidays Abroad - Feeling Lonely?

For whatever reason, you’re spending the festive season alone abroad. Rather than hum and haw about how lonely you are or how you are missing the family traditions, make a point of thinking about the experience in a new light. You’ve got all this time for yourself now, think of how much value you can get out of Chrismas alone if you just put your energy in the right place. I always say, loneliness is self-induced, and I honestly believe that. It is a state of mind whereas being alone, is solely the physical state.

Helpful Hack #3

Spend Christmas how you want, but whatever you do, don’t try to recreate your cherished Christmas away from home.

Write a new story. Celebrating Christmas differently can open your eyes up to new perspectives. Wherever you are spending Chrismas abroad alone try to involve yourself in the local traditions. This is a great opportunity to see how people in other parts of the world celebrate Christmas. For example, some places like Catalonia, have wacky Christmas traditions. If you’re stuck in the, I’m lonely and missing home state you won’t be open to experiencing them. Also, should you find yourself in a country that doesn’t celebrate the holidays, use this time as the perfect escape from the commercialization of Christmas.

Two years ago I spent Christmas holidays abroad in Ouzoud, Morocco. As you can imagine, there were no Christmas trees, traditional Christmas dinner, or anything Christmasy about the day, and yet, it was one of my most beloved Christmas experiences. I was a little unsure how Christmas in Morocco would make me feel, but once I experienced it, I forgot all about any reservations I previously had around the idea.
Sometimes the fear of experiencing something is worse than the experience itself.

Helpful Hack #4

As a solo traveler abroad on Christmas, celebrating the holidays alone can be one of the most enriching experiences you will ever have. While everyone else is inside with their families spending time together, you have all the time in the world to enjoy the peace in the streets, take photos, or explore the city sights without interruptions.

Start writing your new Christmas story this year!

What’s my Christmas story?

It won’t be my first Christmas alone, but it will sure be an interesting one. I initially had the idea to book one of the top scenic train rides in Europe, however, later changed my mind. This year I am heading to the Balkans for the holidays. Dubrovnik, Mostar, and Sarajevo are on the agenda. Where else? Who knows? I will let the energy of the moment move me. What I do have a clear vision of is this… Through the reframing of my previous beliefs around spending the holidays alone, I have prepared myself for this experience. Let’s be honest, spending Christmas abroad alone is not easy. Especially when in most places in the world it’s made to be such a big deal. I am using this solo Christmas to realign with my internal energies and am doing so by taking time for myself. We often forget about self-care, but it’s one thing that should be non-negotiable. Spending time in nature, reading, wandering quiet city streets, hitting up a Christmas market if there are any, sampling local food, and treating myself to a spa day is how I plan to spend the holidays abroad.

Now it’s your turn to share. If you’re planning to spend Christmas alone or any other holiday, reach out to us on Instagram or Facebook and share your story for a chance to be featured!

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