Spending Christmas Abroad – Bloggers Share Their Favourite Memories

As long-term travellers, spending the holiday season abroad is inevitable. Many of us aren’t home during this time and although we miss family, friends, traditions and food, spending Christmas overseas is a unique way to enjoy the holidays…and create some fantastic memories!

Here’s what some of our favourite travel bloggers had to say about their fondest Christmas memories abroad.

Y Travel Blog:

Our favourite Christmas abroad was in 2003 at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls exudes an atmosphere of peace and beauty, it was special to experience Christmas here.

On Christmas Eve, we did a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River for only $20 including food and drink. There is nothing like having a Zambezi beer on the Zambezi River with hippos yawning in the background as the sun is going down.

Craig and I started Christmas morning with a walk to the falls through the rainforest created by its roaring spray. We then ate a 5 course Christmas lunch, with wine, for only $15 each with the sound of the falls thundering and a halo of mist spraying in the background. It was pretty magical.

– Caz & Craig of Y Travel Blog

spending christmas abroad in Zimbabwe

The Barefoot Nomad:

We’ve been traveling together since 2003, and we’ve spent Christmas all over the globe; everywhere from New Zealand to Mexico to the Philippines to Canada. Of all these, our Christmas in Merida, Mexico was probably my favorite. We rented a little colonial house in the city centre, with a lot of charm, but completely lacking in Christmas decorations. We didn’t have a traditional Christmas tree, so Santa put the kids’ presents under a vase of ostrich feathers we found in the front entrance. Our kids thought the ostrich tree was a lot of fun, and it brought home, yet again, that the best things about Christmas really don’t depend on having the perfect decorations or the perfect location.

– Charles & Micki of The Barefoot Nomad

spending christmas overseas

A Couple Travelers:

One of my favorite Christmases was in 2010. Dave and I were working full time in Washington DC and drove up to our families’ houses in Massachusetts. From there my parents, Dave and I all headed to Bromont, Canada, where we spent the Christmas holidays at a ski resort with other family members and friends. All together we had a group of about 20 people all staying at a quaint and charming Chateau right outside the ski resort. We spent the days skiing, sitting by the fire, soaking in the outdoor roof jacuzzi, and just enjoying each others’ company. I love to be surrounded by friends and family during the holidays, and with skiing being one of my favorite activities I got to have the best of both that Christmas.

– Vicky & Dave of A Couple Travelers

spending christmas overseas

Uncornered Market:

A couple of years ago we spent Christmas with a good friend on the island of Koh Samui Thailand.  On Christmas day, the three of us hopped on his motor bike, bought a couple of Santa hats outfitted with flashing lights and drove around the island like Christmas ambassadors.  We waved to just about everyone we saw on the road. Though some of the locals probably thought we were a bit nuts, they too got into the spirit by wishing us a Merry Christmas and bursting into laughter, yielding plenty of Thai smiles.

We concluded our ride around the island with a visit to the local fresh market.  Our Christmas dinner: freshly caught squid, giant prawns and snapper, grilled and sided chili pepper sauce for a tropical Christmas feast under the cover of palm trees on a balmy night. In keeping with a bit of our own tradition, we searched the island for ingredients to make Christmas cookies.  While our cookies didn’t taste quite like they might have at Christmases past, they were close enough.

A bit of home amidst the island exotic, this was our tropical Christmas abroad.

– Dan & Audrey of Uncornered Market

christmas abroad

eTramping (Cez):

The 24th of December was just about the same as any other day in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was extremely hot, sunny, dry and nobody had even thought of the possibility that snow would come. For many, it would be great to avoid the winter blues, but on this particular day, I missed the cold and white weather. However, that was not the only one thing I missed on that day. My family gathered for plenty of food, all together, all happy, all to put on some weight and share presents. I didn’t expect to miss them so badly, but I did enjoy this special day with a bunch of backpackers from my hostel.

Cambodians are mostly Buddhists, so Christmas is a day like any other for them. Only tuk-tuk drivers seemed to be into the whole Christmas stuff. Wherever we went, we heard “Merry Christmas Sir, tuk-tuk?” or “Happy Christmas, tuk-tuk?”. Yes, some were disguised as Santa (hat only). Thankfully, I was not alone in Siem Reap, I was surrounded by a great bunch of people, all in a similar position as me. All of us wanted to enjoy the companionship of others and some kind of Christmas Eve celebration. We had a nice dinner together and exchanged presents which landed underneath a Christmas tree, all nicely packed just like at home. Then everyone who took part had to write their name on a piece of paper, which was drawn later. The person whose name was drawn then had a choice: to open a new present or to “steal” one from someone who had opened one before them.

– Cez of eTramping

spending christmas in cambodia

Anglo Italian Follow Us:

Our most memorable travel Christmas is from last year, but not for the best reasons.

At some point during our time in Japan a friend told us of the new tradition of young couples to spend Christmas Day much like we would Valentines Day in the west; the difference being that they all spend it eating chicken at the nearest KFC. Strange, but a curiously entertaining alternative.

Since we were in Asia I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and I thought “Why not?!” and headed to the nearest KFC on the 25th – worst idea ever.

The chicken was oily and burnt and it put the worst downer on our day which Franca won’t ever let me forget! This Christmas I think I’ll leave Franca in control.

-Dave of Anglo Italian Follow Us

spending christmas in japan

eTramping (Agness):

Believe me or not, but I spent my most memorable Christmas at work in one of the public schools I was working for at that time. Huayuan, a small village in China where I used to live, did not celebrate this special day at all. Although it was freezing cold outside and there was plenty of snow, it did not feel like Christmas. Nevertheless, I did not give up and tried to make this day as unforgettable and amazing as possible. I bought plenty of sweets, candies and chocolate for my high school students, brought a little Christmas tree to the classroom, downloaded some Christmas songs and put a Christmas cap on top of my head. When my class started, we all sang “Jingle bells” and “We wish you a Merry Christmas”, exchanged greetings and wishes, had some nice food and drew some Christmas related pictures on the board. Oh, we had a blast that day! Everyone was cheering and jumping around like crazy. Although I still missed home badly, I felt blessed for having such an amazing experience!

-Agness of eTramping

spending christmas in china

Mallory On Travel:

Christmas has always meant skiing or snowboarding trips for me, especially while I was still serving in the Army. Mainly in the European skiing resorts of Austria, France, Switzerland and Italy. Getting some snow beneath my planks, racing the pistes or exploring the backcountry ski touring especially on Christmas Day wearing a Santa hat was my perfect holiday treat. The slopes are usually at their quietest, and there are plenty of opportunities to make fresh tracks.

One of my favourite places is Val Gardena, slap bag in the middle of the Italian Dolomites. Many kilometres of great skiing terrain, and lovely picture postcard villages, such as Ortisei, St Cristina and Selva Wolkenstein. There’s also the famous Sella Ronda which provides half a day of good skiing in some spectacular scenery.

It’s located in the Italian Südtirol, and German is the most common language, which suits me as my Italian is poor. There’s a good mixture of bars, restaurants and coffee shops perfect for apres-ski, the Glühwein flows, and the welcome is usually a warm one.

Oh and one last thing…… Christmas is guaranteed to be white!

-Iain Mallory of Mallory On Travel

spending christmas in italy

Goats On The Road:

This is a hard choice for us. We’ve spent Christmas in Vietnam, India and China, all of which were fantastic for different reasons. Since we have to choose just one, we choose our Christmas in India.

We ended up going to Jaipur for the holidays and stayed in a beautiful Maharajan styled, penthouse room! On Christmas Eve, we went out for a not-so-traditional meal of Domino’s Pizza, complete with a slender Indian Santa welcoming us inside. On Christmas morning we awoke to chai tea, brought to our room, and Christmas carols playing on our computer.

Nick and I put on our Santa hats and handed out presents we had secretly bought for each other during the previous few months of travelling. It was pure bliss.

-Nick & Dariece of Goats On The Road

spending christmas in india


Have you ever spent Christmas abroad? Share your favourite memory with us below!

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Spending Christmas Abroad – Bloggers Share Their Favourite Memories

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Goats On The Road

The team at Goats On The Road have a combined 100+ years of travel experience between them and have been to nearly country in the world. This site is 100% human written. We write useful articles for travelers, by travelers, WHO HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN THERE.

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35 thoughts on “Spending Christmas Abroad – Bloggers Share Their Favourite Memories”

  1. Great idea! Two years ago I spent Christmas in Melbourne, Australia. We had an absolutely unique day, I’ll never forget. There was a free BBQ at our hostel at lunch time which was the first good thing of the day but it got better 😉 My friend Sophie had a local friend and she invited the three of us to celebrate Christmas with her family. So we got to celebrate Christmas with an Australian family, spending some time talking about Christmas in Australia and Germany which is quite contrary of course ;), had the best food ever and played some board games. It was great. The day before Christmas Eve is a special day you normally spend with your family and make gifts. We spent this evening at St Kilda Beach in Melbourne watching the ocean, talking with other backpackers we just met and enjoyed a very memorable evening with an emerging beach party. These days didn’t really feel like a proper Christmas for me but it was by all means an unforgettable day!

  2. Sounds like a pretty awesome Christmas to me! I think it’s great to spend the holidays abroad and you were even able to learn about how the Aussie’s celebrate! It sounds like it was a lot of fun.

    BBQ, gifts, friends and beach parties….perfect!

    Cheers for the comment.
    Happy Holidays

  3. That’s been a great idea for the post which made me realize how much I am going to miss home this year. I’m spending Christmas in China again, but this time in sunny Dongguan. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas no matter where in the world you are going to be!

  4. I’ve spent the last 2 Christmases abroad, in China (2011) and New Zealand (2012) and this year will be New Zealand again, but a different experience as I will be working at a kennels during this time, so will have to go a little easier on the celebrations to look after the dogs and cats!

  5. We are a old couple and we take advantage of my husbands time off and try to go different places, none abroad just yet,,maybe someday.

    One of my favorite trips was the time we spent the christmas holiday in our truck and camper. We arrived in Moab Christmas eve.
    After getting set up in our spot in a near empty campground a lady in her 70s show up to tell us where the bathrooms were with the much needed showers. I am sure she smelled us when we arrived.

    She then arrived at our door the next morning which of course was Christmas to take us to breakfast. After that we we were full and ready for a tour courtesy of our new hostess of the mostess, around Moab we went. Because it was Christmas the National Parks are closed. So no one was at the booth at Arches National Park so off we went for a great drive touring as many sites in the park as we could see from her van.

    She dropped us off and told us she would return that evening to take us to Christmas dinner with the local church that was hosting a dinner for the homeless and unfortunates. Well we were the fortunate ones to have experienced a dinner and a day with our Miss Daisy. Except she was the chauffeur. WOW.

    Have a great holiday where ever you are and with whoever you are with.
    Kymee ;o)

  6. Its great to see that you really enjoyed your stay in India for Christmas and always wonderful to experience a different way of celebrating the festivals abroad . None the less I love your blog 🙂

  7. I loved this post! I’ll be spending Christmas in Bali this year with a few friends, it will be my first one in a tropical climate 🙂 Merry Christmas to everyone!

  8. Love this! I’ve spent several Christmases in warm climates now, and I have to say I hate it. My family usually visits extended family in Norway in the winter, which I’m convinced is the best place in the world to spend Christmas!

  9. Wow Kymee, that sounds like an awesome Christmas! Do you mean Moab in Jordan or in the States?

    It sounds like the hostess was really accommodating and made sure you guys had the best time 🙂


  10. haha, you hate spending Christmas in warm climates?! We have yet to do so, but I think we’d love it. Norway will look and feel like how Christmas is meant to: cold, white and beautiful 🙂


  11. My favorite Christmas abroad memory was from last year in Ethiopia. We camped in the middle of nowhere on Christmas Eve night. I woke up as the sun was coming up on Christmas morning, opened my tent and saw three men walking by with camels. The three wisemen?!? Actually, they say one of the real three wisemen was Ethiopian. That night we went to a holiday party in Lalibela with a big group of friends. Still not sure where we’ll be this year though – possibly Thailand?? Happy Holidays to all of you!

  12. Oh, and that day we wore Santa hats and beards while we rode through Ethiopia in our big yellow overland truck and waved at all the children. The kids didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…

  13. Thanks a lot for allowing me to share my story. I hope that this year’s Christmas will be happy and healthy for you and all your readers! Ho ho ho!

  14. Great to see just how varied everyones Christmases have been over the past few years. Perhaps next Christmas we can all coincide to spend it together?!

  15. I’ve spent X-mas in the US, Spain, UK and Poland. This time I’m staying home and actually I’m glad because, unlike most people I really don’t want to go through the Christmas celebration ritual.

    My X-mas time in the US was fun and very relaxed. We never celebrated while living in Spain or in the UK. I’ve spent most X-mas with my Polish “in laws” lately which was extremely fun for the first couple of years, but became overwhelming for me. All the preparations and rituals can be too intense, I think it drained me a bit and I glad I will finally spend a super relaxed X-mas doing nothing 🙂

  16. Great post, so fun to hear everyone’s stories! This year we will be spending our first Christmas abroad in Prague. While we are excited, we were looking for some ways to make it special – picked up some neat ideas from the post. Merry (early) Christmas!

  17. I completely understand! On one hand, we love being around everyone, but on the other hand, there is a lot of planning and a lot of stress when it comes to getting everyone together – and in some cases, drama!

    Nick and I love spending Christmases with just the two of us. This year will be fun with everyone, but the next one will probably be just us.

    Thanks for the comment.

  18. Last year we spent our Christmas in Norther Thailand at an Elephant Sanctuary. On Christmas day we walked among these beautiful creatures and watched them for hours.

    This year we surprised family by coming home for a few weeks. no one had any idea 🙂

  19. This post is awesome! I love spending Christmas away from home, in the old days, when I had a ‘proper’ job I used to have to work Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, that totally sucked but I loved the work camaraderie. Being away means freedom to have a fun Christmas without all the tying family traditions, the hell of the shops as the day draws near!

    This year we’re spending it in Yangshuo, China. It should be totally different, we are gathering with some of our travel family, some friends we met in Russia and Mongolia, for a chilled out, multi cultured Christmas.

    We had a great Christmas a few years ago in Taupo, New Zealand. We met up with some old friends from the UK who were also travelling on an RTW. In our camper vans we commandeered the campsite kitchen and cooked a full British Turkey dinner, and ate it in the sunshine. this was after we’d spent the morning in the thermal pools shooting down the water slide! We had a pet sparrow we’d rescued and she perched on the table and dozed while we ate, she was a bit of a talking point for all the other campers who came over! Happy memories indeed!

  20. Awesome stories! I agree, we both love spending Christmas abroad, it’s so much fun and there’s no stress involved 🙂

    I love the city of Yangshuo! You’ll have such a great time there, especially since you’re spending the holidays with other travellers.

    Happy Holidays to you 🙂

    Thanks for the comment.

  21. Awesome post! We’ve spend many a holiday abroad as well. Last year, we had Thanksgiving in the Philippines, Christmas in Chiang Mai, and New Year’s in Paris under the Eiffel tower. Celebrating the holidays half way around the world from ‘home’ is definitely a good way to spice up the feasting/gifting routine. That said, I’m really looking forward to having a tree to decorate this year! Shh… don’t tell the other travelers! 😉

    Bonne Année! Happy New Year from #Paris! A video posted by Camera & Carry On (@cameraandcarryon) on Dec 12, 2013 at 5:13pm PST

  22. haha, don’t worry, I won’t tell! It’s so much fun having Christmas (or other celebrations) abroad, totally agree. It sounds like you’ve had some great times overseas too!

    Cheers 🙂

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