The Christmas holidays are a time for families and friends to come together in joyous spirit. They are a time spent with aunts and uncles and weird cousins who you barely remember. Friends in town for the one time of year that is convenient.
For some, the Christmas holidays are a time of solitude, whether by choice or chance. There are expectations that everyone needs to be with family and friends at this time of year, but is that true? Must we all be at social gatherings and communal Christmas parties to make others feel happy?
For those solo travelers who are okay with exploring the world alone, is there a better time of year to step out the door and onto the road to adventure? Taking a trip alone during the holidays isn’t necessarily about a “bah humbug” attitude. It can be just as much about sangria and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Choosing to buck expectations can be rewarding in ways that will never be forgotten.
The first hurdle to solo travel during the holidays is the expectations of others. Families tend to expect that everyone will forgo their desires and opportunities to travel abroad so that they can slog their way home and sleep on a lumpy couch for a week. While time with family is important, so is the ability to seize opportunity and set out on the open road. Beds in hostels in a foreign country may be just as lumpy as that old basement couch at the family home, but those familial sofas lack the unique experiences that come with solo travel. During a time of year when PTO days are plentiful, taking advantage of extended leave to see the world is an opportunity that can’t be passed by. The majority of the world's cultures celebrate Christmas opportunistically, if not for religious reasons alone. So getting out there to experience Christmas in new locations is an opportunity to not be missed.
A bonus to solo travel during the holidays is that every culture around the world will be doing something unique to celebrate the season. If that celebration isn’t traditional, it’s even more of an opportunity to visit and experience something new and enlightening. Walking through the Christmas markets in Germany while drinking gluhwein (hot wine) is a memory that will stay with you for many years afterward. Enjoying a sunny and sandy beach in South America on December 25th allows for the enjoyment of sunny and warm environs while also being in a place that celebrates the reason for the season. The unique and the absurd are available during the holidays, so make sure that they are opportunities seized with gusto.
A Chance to Serve
Another advantage to solo travel is that time during the holidays is yours to spend freely. Without the expectations of following the schedule of family or friends, the liberty of solo travel can be used to serve others who may be less fortunate. Providing comfort to those who may be hoping to have a family or food or presents to rejoice with is a selfless act that also gives you a reason to travel and explore the world. In this time of year when selflessness and charity are at the forefront, why not practice both acts while coming to an understanding of what it means to be less fortunate in a country that is also less fortunate than where you come from?
Travel is an experience that opens the mind and enriches the soul. Choosing to set off on a solo adventure during a time of year when you are expected to be with others, can be daunting. But until you know what it means to see the joy of Christmas reflected in the faces of people on the other side of the world, how can you most appreciate the opportunity to spend that time with family at home?
If your goal during the holidays is to get out and explore the world, do so with the understanding that you may miss out on family time, and others may miss that time equally. But choosing to buoy your spirit through travel and meeting others in a time of year as magical and cheerful as the Christmas holidays, is not a bad experience either.
After all, even Santa likes to travel at Christmas.Photo by cottonbro studio