Spending the holidays abroad is often the case for those that travel. While many of us may not be partaking in “traditional” Christmas festivities while, it doesn’t mean our holiday is any less memorable! In fact, many folks use their traveling holidays to create some unforgettable memories!
Here is what some travel bloggers had to say about their favorite Christmas Memories spent abroad.
An Expat Christmas in South Korea
I am used to celebrating Christmas at home as part of a traditional family holiday. My grandfather is German so mostly we would go to my grandparent’s house and open gifts on Christmas Eve, and then enjoy a big family lunch on Christmas day.
Since being an expat in Korea, my friends here in Korea became like family, and important holidays and celebrations would always be spent with them. For Christmas last year, the day was really memorable because of the people I celebrated with and the amazing food we gorged on.
We all decided to have it at my friend Victoria’s apartment, as she had a big apartment and is a fabulous cook. We left all the cooking up to her and organized a secret Santa between ourselves.
The food that we ate was quite unlike what I’m used to. Indulging in Yorkshire puddings, rocky roads, chicken roast and apple pie was a very different yet amazing delicious lunch.
Getting together on Christmas day with my expat family, and feeling the love and joy of Christmas despite being miles away from my family is what made my expat Christmas so special. I am really grateful to have some wonderful friends here in South Korea.
Low Flying Planes and Unlimited Drinks in St. Maarten
My favorite Christmas memory abroad is from St. Maarten in 2007. I was 20 years old and traveled down to the islands with my family. We woke up Christmas morning to the turquoise blue waters and sun shining through the windows of our oceanside villa. The day was spent swimming and relaxing and at night, for Christmas dinner, we went to Sunset Bar and Grill.
Sunset Bar and Grill sits at the beginning of the runway to the St. Maarten Airport. It is here where planes come dangerously close to your head as they land on the island. For $20 we each bought a Santa Hat that gave us access to unlimited drinks for the entire night. My 20 year old college student self was in heaven. Unlimited drinking, fried fish, the Caribbean Ocean and planes landing over our heads makes my Christmas in St. Maarten one of the most memorable I have had!
Christmas on Koh Chang, Thailand
Duke Stewart is the man behind the travel blog, Duke Stewart Writes. He crafts beautifully written prose about travels to faraway places as well as local explorations near his home in South Korea. Follow him on Facebook for observations and inspiration.
It was nearing the end of 2012 and we’d exchanged the Korean cold for more tropical temperatures in Thailand. Koh Chang was the destination after a brief stay in Bangkok and upon arriving; we didn’t feel entirely festive as Christmas approached. Had it not been for one particular moment during a walk to one of Koh Chang’s beautiful beaches, I’d have probably forgotten about the holiday altogether.
Days on the island comprised of waking up and picking a beach to relax on while eating freshly cut mangoes and consuming whatever drink tickled our fancies. One day, we explored some other patches of sand and water outside Lonely Beach and stumbled upon a resort with an accompanying restaurant.
As we approached the beach entrance, something familiar rocked our minds back home for that moment. What else could jumpstart my spirit but a Christmas tree with a kayak resting at its base? From that moment on, it was not just an island trip but “Christmas on Koh Chang.” Just the thought of that tree by the water makes me long for another Christmas on Elephant Island.
A Christmas Spent Volunteering in Zambia
Marissa blogs at Little Things Travel, sharing travel tips and adventures, while appreciating the little things in life. Follow her on Instagram to check out her travel adventures at home and around the world.
My entire life, I have always grown up spending Christmas at home in Chicago surrounded by family and friends. Last Christmas was a bit different. My sister and I traveled to Livingstone, Zambia during December of 2013. This made for an extra special Christmas because we were there for a volunteer program to teach kids and help out in the community.
Christmas was much more meaningful last year because instead of being with my family and receiving gifts, I was able to give back to the people of Livingstone. During a time when the teachers are off from work and the students would normally not be in school, volunteers teach at “Holiday Club” so the kids still have an opportunity to learn and be creative with arts, crafts, and games.
On Christmas day, the entire group of volunteers had a lovely outdoor Christmas dinner together. We did a small gift exchange to make it feel a bit more like home, and took an extra moment to appreciate all that we take for granted. It was strange waking up to scorching heat on Christmas morning, but it sure was memorable to have a barbecued Christmas meal.
Pleasures of Winter in Brussels
Jessica is a Washington DC based travel and food blogger over at The Dining Traveler. She believes that food and travel are intertwined and aims to share her experiences from a travelers perspective. Follow her on Twitter.
I lived in Brussels for six years and spent part of the holiday season in the city. One of my favorite things about Christmas in Belgium is the holiday décor throughout the center of the city which the city markets as “Plaisirs d’hiver” (pleasures of winter).
They have a huge tree in the Grande Place and this year they have a gorgeous light show with classical music. As you walk towards another square called Saint Catherine, you see wooden huts with different food and gift vendors. What I love about these displays is that they truly reflect how diverse the city is. You see everything from Glühwein to oysters and champagne. This year there’s even a vendor who smokes salmon in place. The atmosphere is warm and delicious.
What I truly enjoy about the holiday display of the city is that is not comercial but a space where people young and old come together to enjoy good food, buy handcrafted gifts for their loved ones and take in the gorgeous display of lights over the glorious architecture of the city.
A Story of Santa and Demons in Austria
Hannah, of Eat Sleep Breathe Travel, has put aside the “stereotypical North American lifestyle” to follow her passion for travel. Follow her on Facebook for inspiration on how travel can change your life, too!
The flashing lights caught my eye, and the shadows that danced along the walls. I was on a bus headed back to my B&B just outside of Salzburg, Austria. I had spent the day wandering Christmas markets and castles, and now that it was dark and cold I was ready to call it a day. Or so I thought.
As I peered into the darkness I could make out some type of event, and out of curiosity decided to get off the bus to see what it was. Camera slung around my wrist I made for the crowd; I had stumbled across a festival of sorts with locals dressed as Santa and…demons. Confused I asked someone beside me what the demon was. “Krampus” he told me in a thick accent, followed by a smile.
Intrigued I continued to watch the demons chase children with whips and nets until suddenly one headed for me. My camera and fascination pegged me as a foreigner, which made me an easy target. Soon I was running and yelling with the children. It was horrifying and hysterical at the same time, and despite the laughs at my expense, I loved that I had been included.
Christmas in Paradise
Neysha, a fan of eccentric gems, hidden markets and craft beer is the blogger behind Travelsuras. Her blog is filled with inspiration and proof that adventures can be found anywhere; Follow her on Facebook.
My whole life, I’ve spent Christmas throughout various locations in Central America, the Caribbean and the United States. It’s hard to pick an “abroad”destination that’s truly better than another for one of the most meaningful days of the year for my family, but there is one Christmas that stands out like a sore thumb.
Two years ago I spent a warm December beneath the rays of Dominican Republic. That year was extra special because for the first time we’d be spending Christmas in my mother’s homeland. She fixed up a small tree in the corner of our apartment in Santo Domingo, and I spent the weeks familiarizing myself with the traditions I hadn’t yet had the chance to experience.
We took a relaxing road trip to Las Terrenas, where we lied on the beach and sipped coconut water. On Christmas day we ate pernil (roasted pork) and made our way to mass at the Cathedral of Santa Mara la Menor, the oldest cathedral in the Americas. On New Years Eve, we danced on a roof top as the rain drizzled on our shoulders. I remember feeling completely at peace, and overwhelmingly ready for 2014. Who needs sheens of white snow when you’ve got the Caribbean sun?