If count yourself as part of the tribe that really looks forward to your tried-and-true Christmas traditions, then traveling around the holidays may feel like it would be a bit of a letdown.
Occasionally, however, you may find that celebrating in a new place can be refreshing. And who knows, you may even find a brand new tradition to take home with you.
1. Explore Local Holiday Traditions
One of the best ways to ensure you truly get the full experience of a new locale during the holidays is to research the area’s special seasonal events. Many cities have unique celebrations that showcase regional traditions, culture and cuisine. In London, for example, visitors can head out to Syon Park’s Enchanted Woodland and explore a festively lit trail that winds through the arboretum and around the Capability Brown’s Serpentine River. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, you can participate in the “Running of the Santas.” For just $15 you can dress up like jolly ‘ole Saint Nick, or “Babbo Noel” as the cajuns call him, compete in a costume contest, enjoy food and drink from some of the area’s best vendors and take in the Crescent City with thousands of other jovial participants.
2. Make It Your Own
Traveling for the holidays shouldn’t mean you couldn’t plan a truly awesome celebration. If you usually spend a quiet Christmas at home, this is your chance to try something different. While some establishments may be closed for the holidays, there are always at least one or two local watering holes that are open. Make a night of it — put on a unique Christmas suit or a fancy, holiday dress and hit the town. Enjoy a feast of foods you wouldn’t normally eat during your typical Christmas dinner and take a cruise around the city and make it your mission to find the most unusual or amazing Christmas light display. There’s usually at least one neighborhood or landmark that’s known for its incredible decorations.
3. See A Holiday Music Concert Or Show
It’s not Christmas without music! Traveling during the holidays is a great excuse to go see a local Christmas musical or a concert. Even if you’re not in a major U.S. city, many smaller towns have caroling of some kind, and even local colleges and high schools will often put on holiday-themed productions.
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4. Take Christmas With You
If you’re not traveling to stay with friends or family and the thought of waking up in an undecorated hotel room seems bleak, bring Christmas with you! Pack a mini tree and some stockings to surprise your travel partner on Christmas morning. Collect some trinkets from the city you’re visiting and use them as stocking stuffers. Or, for a cost-saving and humorous take on the “Christmas-while-traveling” theme, you can tuck a few complimentary toiletries, bar items and hotel coffee packets inside your stockings. You can even pick up a string of lights or two from a nearby dollar store and spruce up your space.
The true spirit of Christmas is embodied in generosity and selflessness. Traveling during the holidays may be a great way to refocus your thinking. Instead of exchanging gifts, volunteer your time to an area shelter or soup kitchen. Check to see if nearby assisted living homes or hospitals could use some manpower to bring a bit of Christmas joy to those who could really use it. The holidays are often hard on many, so even taking the time to perform some random act of kindness, like buying a cup of coffee or lunch for someone in need, may be just the ticket to spreading some cheer while you’re far from home. If you can’t donate your time, donate money and use CharityNavigator.org to find a cause close to your heart.
6. Get Outside
Depending on your travel destination, there are probably some beautiful and unique landscapes to behold, and it may even be quite warm. Instead of the usual Christmas morning spent in pajamas, plan a Christmas-day hike. Pack up your favorite Osprey bag with a few seasonal snacks to enjoy once you’ve found a perfectly scenic spot. Don’t forget to pack some water, your camera and a Santa hat of course, if you want to still keep it festive.
Article written by HOLLY TOMLINSON.