Search





How to Enjoy Family Travel Abroad at Christmas!

December 23, 2009

traditional clothes Christmas Spain Pastore

Ever wonder how travelers, digital nomads or expats handle the holiday season far from home? This is our fourth Christmas in Spain and we really love it. Hard not to like an area so beautiful with ideal warm winter weather where we are ten minutes from  the Mediterranean sea and an hour's drive from snow skiing.

This is the Christmas view out our window that I took just took while decorating our tree!

Beautiful med sea view, palms, spain, mediterranean  

Still, some people do get lonely while traveling no matter where they are. Recently I was surprised to read this post at Gadling ( but enjoyed this rebuttal). I was even more surprised to  read "It’s been really lonely on the road so far" by cyber friend Baker at ManvsDebt in his recent post about traveling as a family.

I did get very lonely at times when I was in my twenties and lived in Italy for a year modeling for Ford but none of us have gotten homesick or lonely on our journey, thus far. I think that is probably easier as a family or couple, but there are plenty of singles ( like cyber friend Brian) of every age who also master it while doing extended travel. So what are the secrets that can help?

1) BRING "HOME MOVIES" & LOTS OF FAMILY PHOTOS!


This is particularly true for families. One of the smartest things we did before leaving on our open ended world tour as a family in 2006, was create a "family home movie" dvd and scan tons of priceless family photos from tons of albums onto a digital format.

Didn't you love family nights as a kid watching "home movies"? I did and Mozart does too plus it has added value when you're doing extended travel as it helps a child stay connected to his/her home culture, past and relatives in addition to rituals at a distance.

This is a gift to our family, friends and readers who want a peek into our life before travel. This video was taken the last Christmas in our home when our daughter had just turned 4. Some of the pictures are from earlier xmas holiday seasons. We knew it would be our last Christmas there and wanted her to remember the special times and traditions that we had in that beloved home where she lived from birth.

This is partly how we bring our home with us as we travel the world and help our child remember her roots. We have film of holiday dinners with family, newborn. family reunions , weddings, her first birthday party, friends and every day moments. We even have video of DaVinci's mother's last birthday which was just a few short months before her death and my younger brother who died at forty, so they live on for her even though they passed away before she was born.

When we watched them all again a few days ago, I wanted to find a way to share it with you. Not an easy task, but after many trials and a call to the company at home that helped us make our personal dvd, we found a way. It's a bit like inviting you over to cuddle on the couch with us! Grin.

IMG_1152

Our ritual at home was to go to a tree farm and cut down a tree, then go have Chinese food at our favorite restaurant. This is the last tree that we cut down and at four, Mozart had become an expert and already knew the rituals.

She also loved the ritual of putting on Christmas music, unwrapping all the decorations and putting them on the tree. I so loved the special Christmas ornaments when I was a kid, that I collected special ornaments and angels for over twenty years. (The frugal way of course, by buying them after xmas). We still have the best ones tucked away in storage and have added a few unique ones from this trip, which Mozart will inherit if she wants.

Sorry about the quality ( it was taken with our old video camera and then transferred) but we hope you  enjoy it!

2) EMBRACE THE NEW

IMG_1087

Chocolate  advent calendar? Yum! Not something we had at home, but definitely a European tradition that Mozart adapted to immediately. Part of the joy of extended travel and deep immersion is to experience another culture in a profound way, so learning new traditions and participating in festivals is part of the charm.

IMG_1206

Yesterday Mozart sang a little solo at her local school in the annual Christmas concert that they put on every year on the last day of school before Xmas break. Remember our videos from the first winter in 2006 where she sang in her tradition outfit and did flamenco? Time flies when you are having fun. She was 6 and in first grade that first year, now she is in fourth grade and turned 9 this fall!

IMG_1191

They partied all day at the school and did a "secret Santa". Not so different than at home except totally in Spanish and with a Spanish flair. By coming back to this village every year we have a "home away from home" that helps us connect to the holiday customs that are similar and not so similar. We keep or modify ours and add theirs. I wholeheartedly agree with my friend Maya Frost who recently wrote about the importance of flexibility in lifestyle design

IMG_1050

On that note, let us demo the art of a Christmas tree in Spain, which you can see is a totally different process than how we use to cut down our trees at home that you see on the video. The good news for frugal types is it is very cheap, just 6 or 7 euros at the local hypermarket compared to 60 to 80 dollars at the tree farm.

IMG_1060 

First you buy the tree that comes with dry root ball, pot and potting soil.

IMG_1064 

Unwrap tree and add a little soil to the bottom of the pot.

IMG_1077 

Put the tree in and squish down the root ball and potting mix.

IMG_1082 

This year we used a hammer to move things around before watering, but usually not needed.

IMG_1126 

Then you decorate! We have very minimal decorations that we store here with a few things like extra books in a couple boxes while we travel. We have bought a few from our travels and brought one Christmas stocking from home.Little things like the same stocking every year of her life, no matter where we are, help maintain roots and consistency to a kid on the go .

Yes, those are organic seed packages that arrived with our Christmas gifts from home, that we added to the tree. When we take our tree down after the big 3 Kings celebrations here on January 6th, we will plant our winter garden using this pot & others on our balcony. Even travelers can be gardeners!

Christmas presents, gifts under tree 

3) USE WEBCAM CALLS & INTERNET TO CONNECT WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS

There is really nothing better than free webcam calls to help stay connected to family and friends. The internet and technology today is what makes living and schooling anywhere as a digital nomad possible.

Even this post lets our family, friends and readers connect to our lives. I probably call my mom more now than when I was at home and she has said that she knows more details about our lives than when we were at home due to our blog, Twitter,  and Facebook etc. 

It is hard for me to understand how anyone can get lonely today while traveling. Looking at my Mom's, other relatives or friends faces on the webcam,  full size on our laptop screens, it is easy to forget how many miles we are apart. The only thing missing is the hugs!

Angel made by child christmas tree topper frugal craft

4) IMPROVISE, POSITIVE FOCUS & PLAYFULNESS

We always had a beautiful angel on top of our Christmas tree,  but we didn't want to bring it or buy another one here. No problem! Mozart made one last year and we used it again this year. The first year we fashioned one out of a plastic water bottle and aluminum foil and this one is out of a paper towel roll and construction paper.

I think it illustrates well the principles of improvisation, positive focus and playfulness that will not only keep you from feeling depressed and lonely while doing extended travel during the holidays, but will support your life in many ways.

world globe christmas tree 

5) GRATITUDE AND OPTIMISM

When ones heart is always focused on gratitude and seeing the glass half full rather than half empty, it is much easier to avoid negativity. It seems even science is proving that now and reminds me of a favorite book that I first read long ago, "You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought" or cyber friend  Patti Digh's popular book "Life is a Verb".

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” — G. K. Chesterton

“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend… when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure — the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.” –Sarah Ban Breathnach

 We do try to keep our focus on gratitude, optimism and Grace which seems to help us. Thank you family, old friends and readers ( new friends!) for your love, caring, and goodness that we feel with us as we travel. May you have a most joyous Holiday Season!


« previous | | next »

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00e5502a950788330128767629d9970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How to Enjoy Family Travel Abroad at Christmas! :

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Lise

Thanks for sharing your holiday traditions. It was nice to know that you can find ways to create new family traditions on the road.

Sandra Foyt

It's all in the mindset, isn't it? We're staying at home this year, having had to scrap plans to visit family in other parts of the country. We've also decided to take a break from holiday decorating because it's been overwhelming in the past.

Instead of being sad or stressed, we're enjoying making the best of things.

It turns out we can have a lot of fun decorating a Christmas cactus with paper snowflakes, and taking advantage of whatever activities are available.

We're looking forward to making full use of our season ski pass.

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo!

Lifecruiser Travel Blog

She's adorable in that dress :-)

Yes, xmas is all about joy! And we can choose the joy instead of being negative, for sure!

I'd love to spend xmas in Spain some time in the future. I've been there before during new years eve and beginning of the year when they celebrate xmas.

Sarah Lavender Smith

Thanks for this article. I'd like to echo your advice to "embrace the new." This year, as we travel RTW, we are developing new holiday traditions we hope to take back home with us; for example, for Thanksgiving in Santiago, Chile, we had an amazing platter of raw shellfish and other seafood in lieu of a turkey, and vowed as we gave thanks to start a tradition of having seafood at future Thanksgivings. For Christmas, we topped our tiny tree (a seedling, which we're going to plant here in New Zealand) with a cut-out sun, since we celebrated the SUMMER solstice the day we got the Christmas tree (weird but wonderful!). So on future trees, we'll also have a little sun. We are so very grateful to be having a much simpler, less materialistic Christmas this year, recognizing that our journey is the gift.

Sarah Lavender Smith

Thanks for this article. I'd like to echo your advice to "embrace the new." This year, as we travel RTW, we are developing new holiday traditions we hope to take back home with us; for example, for Thanksgiving in Santiago, Chile, we had an amazing platter of raw shellfish and other seafood in lieu of a turkey, and vowed as we gave thanks to start a tradition of having seafood at future Thanksgivings. For Christmas, we topped our tiny tree (a seedling, which we're going to plant here in New Zealand) with a cut-out sun, since we celebrated the SUMMER solstice the day we got the Christmas tree (weird but wonderful!). So on future trees, we'll also have a little sun. We are so very grateful to be having a much simpler, less materialistic Christmas this year, recognizing that our journey is the gift.

soultravelers3

@Lise It's been easier than we imagined. Thank you & Happy Holidays!

@Sandra So true! That does sound like fun, sweet lady! Have a wonderful Christmas!

@Lifecruiser Aw, thanks! Spain is a great place for Xmas but I bet Sweden is as well! ;) Have a wonderful X-mas!

@Sarah Thx! Sounds wonderful!
The simplicity,freedom & bonding of slow travel on the road is such a blessing, isn't it? Less is definitely more! The kindness of the people one meets as a traveler is as inspiring as the locals, Merry, Merry Christmas on the road! Your trip will change you forever.

BrittArnhild

Marry Christmas, god jul, to you. I am so glad I found your site sometime this year :-)

Victoria

Thank you for this post, it has been really helpful.

Despite all the travelling I have done in my life, I've only ever been away from England once, and never been away from my parents for Christmas.

I love all the rituals we have at home, and in the run up to Christmas, was feeling a little sad that we won't be able to celebrate Xmas in the same way, because we'll be on our RTW trip. I wrote a post about it, which I hope you don't mind me attaching: http://itsasmallworldafterallfamily.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/away-in-a-manger/

This post has given me lots of good ideas, particularly to do lots of filming this year to take with us. We will of course fully embrace Xmas in New Zealand next year and I'm looking forward to gaining some new family traditions.

soultravelers3

@BrittArnhild god jul & happy holidays! I'm so glad we met online too!

@Victoria I'm so glad that it has been helpful too you! I think it can be really valuable & heart/mind expanding to experience Christmas and other holidays in different countries. So great for kids to see that there is not just one way to do it, but many.

Those home movies will warm your heart next year! Good that you have arranged to be with old friends while there, our good friends here help to make ours special too.

If there is a will, there is always a way! ;)If you decide you will have a happy, fulfilling Christmas no matter where, no matter what...you will!

Happy Holidays! We've had such fun connecting with family online, hanging out as a family & with friends here & really looking forward to the New Years & 3 King celebrations here!

Lots of ways to find the joy! :)

Traci

I just loved this post! I dream of the day when we can spend Christmas in our home in Costa Rica. I get really aggravated at all of the commercialism placed on the holidays. Our local KMart had their Christmas decorations up by the end of August this year!
I would love for my children to experience Christmas in a third world country and learn about the true meaning.
With all of the technology today I am sure that you don't feel that "out of touch" with your family. We are going to try and start Skype-ing from Costa Rica this year with our friends and family.

Carrie

Hello Soultravelers3,

Congratulations on another successful year of blogging, traveling, and providing inspiration to the masses. Best wishes for 2010!

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner