How to Survive Christmas When You Are Living Abroad

December 14, 2017
carmel by the sea california christmas travel blogger
I've been an expat which means I've spent special occasions far from home. From birthdays to Christmas, I've missed a few gatherings that are important for me. When you’re travelling or living abroad, spending Christmas outside of your home country can be a difficult time. Everywhere you look there seem to be families spending time together. People ask you if you’re going home for the holidays... However, there are many ways to make those times less hard and I'm going to share them with you today.carmel by the sea california christmas travel blogger

During my first time as an expat in Ireland I spent many hours using Windows Messenger (does it still work?), then I moved on to Skype while I was in California. Nowadays, there are even more ways to communicate like Whatsapp or Facebook. I didn't have a smartphone back in the day, now you pretty much have the world in your pocket.

One of my favorite activities as an au-pair was helping out at the Food Bank in San Francisco. Find out how you can make a difference, maybe you can help the elderly, volunteer at a Soup Kitchen or spend some time with kids who are having a hard time. It's such a fulfilling experience!
rodeo drive L.A. California Christmas travel blogger
 Rodeo Drive L.A.
rodeo drive L.A. California Christmas travel blogger
If you are traveling by yourself, stay at a hostel. Chances are you'll find people in the same situation.

Yes, we live in a consumer society but a little retail therapy didn't hurt anyone. I found that giving myself a treat made me feel much better when I was feeling blue. It can be clothes, eating out or a visit to the spa. Think about what your guilty pleasure is and spoil yourself for a day.

One of the beautiful things about living abroad is learning about and embracing other cultures. Do what the locals do and you can still follow those traditions and show them to family and friends when you go back. If you are in Spain for instance you can eat the 12 grapes on New Year's Eve or celebrate the day of The Three Wise Men by watching the parade and eating Roscon de Reyes (more on Christmas in Spain coming soon).

Show those around you what you do back home during the holidays. Do those things that you miss even if it's just watching your favorite Christmas movie.
Brussels Belgium Christmas travel blogger
brussels belgium christmas abroad travel blogger
This is the tradition that I miss the most, not getting any mail. While living abroad I used to get letters and birthday cards but not anymore. The excitement of seeing that someone was thinking about you and cared to send your something is gone. So maybe send some Christmas cards home, you will probably get some from family and friends too.

"If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain". I was really lucky that my parents could come visit me in California that year. They spent Christmas Day on a plane but at least we could spend a few days together.
san francisco california christmas abroad travel blogger
 San Francisco
san francisco california christmas abroad travel blogger
san francisco california christmas abroad travel blogger
Have you ever spent Christmas abroad? What did you do to beat homesickness?
xo Cristina

English corner
expat - a person taking up residency in another country
to give back (to your community/society) - help those in need
retail therapy - shopping in order to make oneself feel more cheerful
to feel blue - depressed
guilty pleasure - something that one enjoys


  1. Since we had two days off--Christmas and Dec. 26--I would fly off somewhere that didn't celebrate, where it was just another day. Tunisia, Morocco...the blast of sunshine also helped. I remember calling my parents to wish them Merry Christmas; my dad asked what the noise was--it was the waves at the beach in Tunisia.
    Other times I volunteered, and as you say, it's a way to bring cheer to others. I delivered meals to the elderly, and we were encouraged to stay and talk as long as the recipients wanted. It gave the regular delivery people a day off with their families and it was a great opportunity to make the holiday less lonely for the elderly shut-ins.

  2. Es lugar es como vivir dentro de la navidad, me gusta muchísimo.

    Te dejo un video, peinado fácil: trenza con gomitas

  3. Living on Cloud NineDecember 14, 2017 at 12:24 PM

    What gorgeous pictures and wonderful tips. I am sure it is hard sometimes bless your heart. Have a fabulous day sweet lady!

  4. Thanks for sharing these ideas - I'm sure it will be appreciated by many of your readers.
    And thanks for joining us at

  5. As a fellow travel blogger I can understand your feelings about traveling during holidays and being so far away from the comforts of loved ones. With technology we are just an email or text away from our loved ones but there is still nothing like seeing them in person. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

  6. Love this! I have never spent the holidays out of the country but I am no stranger to spending them states and states away from my family. It can be lonely but like you said, you have to make your own traditions!

  7. When my sister lived in the Netherlands I visited her for Christmas. We traveled from there to parts of Germany, Prague, and Poland. I loved the Christmas markets!

  8. Susannah Fields O'BrienDecember 16, 2017 at 4:51 AM

    This is going to be us next year! It would be so great to have family visit us while we're gone!

  9. These are good tips. It can be hard to spend Christmas in another country but it sounds like an interesting thing to do.

  10. I haven't spend the holidays away from home, but I bet it can be really tough! These are all great ways to keep the Christmas spirt alive!! I totally understand the Christmas card part, I always love receiving them.


  11. I have never spent Christmas alone or in a foreign country, but if I had, these would be great tips. It would just need to be somewhere with snow!

  12. These are all really great tips! I love the idea to give back, and get involved in some of the local things! And the internet!! It makes connecting with loved ones much easier!

  13. Perfect list, and I truly couldn't agree more! Thanks for sharing girl!


    Amber |

  14. It can't be easy being away from loved ones at Christmas but look at all of these amazing places you've been and experienced the holidays at!

  15. These are really great tips dear. Btw, your photos are gorgeous as always!

    Jessica |


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