11 Tips For Taking Christmas Vacations – Away From Home

The other day Anya was requesting that we have a traditional Christmas at home.  She continued by explaining she wanted it to be cold, with snow, a big decorated Christmas tree, and loads of our family.  While I know I’ve had plenty of Christmas experiences with all of that, I realized she hadn’t.  We have experienced Christmas vacations “away” from our home for most of her life and only a couple of times with snow.

11 Tips For Taking Christmas Vacations - Away From Home.  Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

So I sat down with Anya and took a look at our old website and travel log Wagoners On The Web.  We chatted about each Christmas vacation experience, with fond memories, and realized we’ve had some pretty awesome times.  We realized we have always had the traditional Christmas, we have just taken it with us wherever we go.  We also discussed how we have now created our own Christmas tradition.

She still wants the big Christmas, so we will do our best to give her the Christmas she sees in all of the movies.  The most difficult part is being with all of the family, as we have never lived near family. To be quite honest, they are spread out all over the USA!  Unless someone travels, we will have Christmas on our own.

Our Tradition of Christmas Vacations Away

Here are some of the awesome experiences we have had over the years with our tradition.

  • 2007 Christmas in Reno, Nevada with Alan’s side of the family. Grandma Linda flew out from NY to join us too.  This was the one experience which was closest to Anya’s dream Christmas.  The problem is, she was too young to remember much of it.
  • 2008 Christmas in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with just the 4 of us.  We just love being at the beach and in the sun!  We stayed at the Marriott Resort, you can check prices here.
  • 2009 Christmas in Beech Mountain, North Carolina with a blizzard and plenty of blankets.  We went for the snow vacation this time and it was cold.  In fact the blizzard was so bad, we couldn’t really drive around. It was fun and cozy indoors and we had some play time outside. Check apartment prices in this area.
  • 2010 Christmas at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida – Harry Potter!  It was time to enjoy Universal Studios with Grandma Linda.  It was fabulous and magical.  The kids were both big fans and since we were staying on property, we had extra visiting hours.  Loews Royal Pacific Resort was just what we needed, check prices here.
  • 2011 Christmas in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with Grandma Linda.  Then we extended the Christmas vacation and drove to Crystal River Florida, where we experienced swimming with the Manatees and riding an Airboat!  We stayed at the Marriott Resort, you can check prices here.
  • 2012 Christmas in Paris, France was absolutely magical with Grandma Linda.  The lights, markets, food, and city vibe was perfection.  We rented an apartment, which I highly recommend. I couldn’t find our apartment online, but you can check prices for apartments here.
  • 2013 Christmas in Estepona, Spain at a housesit with Roxy the dog and Bessie the cat.  It was great as they left their decorated tree up for us.  It was nice to explore other parts of Spain.
  • 2014 Christmas in Hoi An, Vietnam was extra special.  This was the first time in over 18 years, I spent Christmas with someone from my side of the family.  My mom traveled with us for 3 months in Southeast Asia.  We loved staying in the ancient part of town at Longan Homestay.  Check  Availability and Prices
  • 2015 Christmas in Ireland! We were planning to stay home in Spain, but we found a wonderful housesit opportunity we couldn’t pass up.  The flights were very inexpensive, so off we go to the land of my ancestors.

One thing we now know how to do and we do it very well, is to travel.  We can travel for any occasion, but do especially well when it comes to making a trip over Christmas Vacation.  We know how to pack light, be creative with gifts, and make the most fun out of what we have available.

Tips for taking the tradition of Christmas on the road with you!

We thought we would share with you some of the tips we have learned along the way.  This will vary depending on your plans.  If you are driving, you will likely have a little more room, but when flying you will be limited.

  1. When booking accommodation ask if they will have decorations.
    1. We find it best when we book an apartment during the holidays, this way we can cook as we please.
    2. We have also had excellent holiday travel experiences with Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and Beaches Turks & Caicos as well.  With an all-inclusive resort for the holidays, life is really stress free.  They usually go over the top, to bring the traditions to you.
      Holidays Beaches Resort Negril Jamaica. Read more on Wagoners Abroad.com
  2. Add a few decorations of your choice to the mix, or bring something small from home.
    1. When we drove on trips, we had a boxed tree with decorations ready to go.  This usually included our traditional Santa hats and stockings as well.
    2. When flying, we would possibly pack some garland and a string of lights.  Sometimes we just find something locally, once we arrive.
  3. Christmas Activities – We know how to bring the activities with us.  We love to decorate a gingerbread house, have the secret elf visit us, wear Santa hats, decorate cookies, and get as crafty as we can with wrapping our gifts!  We do our best to think of the things which won’t require too many items to come along with us.
  4. It is time to think outside of that traditional box, when it comes to the gift.  We have the most fun coming up with gift ideas which are easy to pack or purchase while visiting in your destination.  This will save room in your luggage and you will all be mush less stressed.
  5. Invite family and friends to join you.  Though we usually travel for Christmas, we often have some family meet up with us along the way.  This gives them an opportunity to enjoy our Christmas tradition of travel.
  6. Go with the flow and don’t aim for perfection.  You may try to recreate exactly what you had at “home”, but sometimes it is good to adjust as needed.  This will help keep the stress levels down.  When cooking, you may have difficulty finding the local ingredients, so expect to make adjustments.
  7. Have patience and realize everyone traveling is also trying to enjoy their time.  Be kind to your fellow travelers, as we are big believers in Karma.
  8. Allow extra travel time as there will likely be delays.
  9. Bring your favorite Christmas spices with you.  If you have some special treats or drinks which are part of your Christmas tradition, then bring those spices with you.  We love mulled wine and pumpkin cookies.  We can’t always get what we need, but if we plan in advance, the correct ingredients will be there with us.  Thanks to a grandma usually traveling to meet up with us.
  10. Christmas music is a must to set the mood.  Not to worry if you haven’t downloaded your favorite songs to you mp3 player or phone.  As long as we have internet, we can just stream the music we want, even with fireplace video to go along with it!
  11. Travel on Christmas day is often less expensive than the days just before or after.  Make sure you are a little flexible with your travel plans to find a great deal.
  12. Bonus Tip!   Make sure you leave a note at your home telling Santa where to find you.  If your kids are concerned, you can also let Santa know of your travel plans in advance, just click here.

Christmas Traditions

Holiday Traditions, Even When You Travel – Paris! This is where we share our favorites with you.  We love decorating the gingerbread houses, making cookies, singing and having a good time!

We love our Mystery Gift Tradition –  One person buys a gift and wraps it. On Christmas eve or morning, the group passes it around.  Each person is allowed to ask one yes or no question and then guess the contents of the package. It continues until someone makes an accurate guess.  The kids love this one!

Christmas Gifts and Unique Ways to Present Them

Here are some of our other Christmas posts

Now it is time to enjoy a few photos from Wagoners Abroad Christmas Past

 

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11 Tips For Taking Christmas Vacations - Away From Home.  Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

We hope you have enjoyed these tips, but we’d also like to help you figure out Creative Ways to Give A Gift.  We offer many ways to give your unusual gifts, just click on the image below.  These ideas are perfect for the “little to no footprint” gifts.  We know it may seem a little anticlimactic to hand someone an envelope with a gift card inside.  Not quite an elaborate presentation to build up excitement, but we will share some fun ways to present that gift.
Creative and Unique ways to give a gift. You can make it fun to give money or a gift card, even golf clubs or an ebook. Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

If you are looking for more inspiration for your Christmas vacations, look no further.  Travel with Bender compiled a list of great Christmas destinations from 29 travel experts. Guess what, we were one of those travel experts.  Check out 29 other options for your next Christmas holiday away.

Where do you spend your Christmas Vacations?  Where have you been?  What tips do you have to add?

8 thoughts on “11 Tips For Taking Christmas Vacations – Away From Home

  1. Thank you for such a great compilation of tips. Last year, listening to Christmas music around our house in Spain really helped it feel like being back home in the U.S. Any recommendations for a specific channel or mix? I haven’t found one I love yet! Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

  2. Hey Heidi – we are Texans living in the UK/London area for a few years. Last year / this past Christmas was our first holiday taken during Christmas time. We went to Lapland (in Finland) and I would highly suggest doing it while the kids are still young(er). It is a popular British destination. There are a ton of companies that sell package trips with charter flights, but we booked it on our own to save money and have a different experience. Rovaniemi is the “Christmas Village” where LOTS of the tours go, but we went north (farther inside the arctic circle) to Levi (it is also a ski resort). We took a husky ride (weren’t actually huskies 🙁 reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobile trip through the forest to Santa’s cabin in the woods (amazing!) and skied. Oh and we did get a few glimpses of the northern lights. We thought it was going to be our last Christmas in Europe so we booked it slightly last minute (4mos ahead) and I would recommend trying to book around a year ahead to get the best prices… I really enjoy reading about your adventures. Thanks!!

    • Oh Natalie, thanks so much for following and for this information. It is a big dream of mine to experience exactly what you described. Maybe I can start dreaming about next Christmas now! Price is always a concern, as you know we like to keep things trim. That said, when there is an amazing experience or activity, we do splurge a little too.

      Alan and I lived in Chiswick London for a few years in the late 90’s. We took the kids there to visit our old stomping grounds a couple of years ago and they would love to return. How long have you been in the UK and what brought you there? Have you ventured down to Spain?

      • Finland was amazing. We have been here three years and it has been everyone’s favorite holiday so far.

        We live in south Hertfordshire, right where it meets Buckinghamshire & Middlesex, about 5 miles from Watford. So we are in the commuter belt. Still on the Metro tube/train lines, but not so congested and expensive. Our temp flat was in Kew when we first arrived. Richmond was gorgeous, but really expensive for a family with 3 boys.

        My husband was able to get a job in his offices London branch. We thought it was a great opportunity to live in Europe and for the kids to see the world. We miss our family, but otherwise love our lifestyle. We homeschool our kids, so that lets us travel during term time, which saves a lot of money and in turn lets us travel more! We only have 2 years left on our visas, so we are making the last two years count!

        My husband has been to Spain for work (Barcelona & Madrid), but we haven’t made it down to Spain as a family. It is definitely on my list. We have a friend who lives here during term time and lives in Malaga during the holidays. She has encouraged us to visit too 🙂

        • Sounds great! We are just 45 min east of Malaga. Well let us know if you make it down this way. I know we have found incredibly inexpensive flights to UK from Malaga. Enjoy your time and thanks for stopping by. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

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