My Gap Year Christmas
Where do the top travel bloggers spend Christmas?
According to these top travel bloggers your first gap year Christmas is sure to be a memorable one. From barbecues on the beach in Australia to joining in the family celebrations in Argentina, a Christmas abroad will be a different experience to turkey and sprouts in rainy England, that's for sure.
If you're thinking about your upcoming gap year Christmas, or planning your whereabouts for 2013, take note of how the travel professionals spent 25th December and suddenly being away from the family won't feel so bad...
1. Christmas in Taiwan
Brendan Wan from wandersoftheworld.net chose Taiwan...
"After graduating from university with a bachelor in Asian Studies, I decided to take a gap year and pursue my interest in Chinese. I had one of the best years of my life in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Christmas in Taiwan is heavily commercial and unlike the festive celebrations in the West, it's actually a day aimed mainly towards couples, not families. The expat community at the time were organising Christmas-theme parties at bars and clubs, but being Christmas and all, the idea of bars, clubs and drinking seemed so unappealing and in a way, sad and depressing. I've always felt Christmas should be a family thing, never a day where one goes on a bender - that's reserved for a few days later on New Year's Eve!
"Many of us had been away from home for some time at the point, so the thought of family and home were creeping in. To provide a remedy for our homesickness, we decided to organise a Christmas pot-luck dinner. It was such a warm and joyous Christmas dinner, everyone that came brought along a home cooked meal. Our Mums, Dads and siblings may not have been there with us, but we did have an extended international family to celebrate Christmas with."
2. Christmas in Thailand
Slice from iBackpacker Travel has spent three Christmases abroad...
"2005 was the first Christmas in my entire life that I'd been away from the UK, my first time backpacking and my first time in Thailand. Christmas day was spent eating seafood and drinking beer on Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui. Christmas in Thailand was an enjoyable time, but I also had some strange feelings about it, mostly the feeling of the weather being hot and humid on Christmas Day, but spending this time of year away from my family for the first time was also strange. Boxing Day that year marked the one year anniversary of the 2004 Tsunami that hit Thailand hard, there was a lot of respect being paid to the victims all around Thailand during this time.
"My second Christmas abroad was spent in Australia in 2008. I was in Melbourne and spent it with some family members that live over there. We spend the day having a barbecue on a park close to a beach in one of the suburbs of Melbourne. It was a hot day and a great way to spend Christmas. I plan to write more about the difference between UK and Australia at Christmas time on my new Australia Travel Blog in the future.
"My third Christmas abroad was spent in Thailand again, in 2009. I was backpacking with a friend from the UK and some Swedish people. We were in Phuket on Christmas Day and celebrated, but Swedes celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, so we got two Christmas celebrations for one! By this time I was used to the weather being hot at Christmas and used to spending Christmas away from my home family."
3. Christmas in Bolivia
Chrystal McKay from chrystal-clear.com was exploring South America around Christmas last year...
"After leaving my job in Argentina last year I was backpacking around South America and found myself in Bolivia over the holidays. The job I had provided me with a huge network of people across all of South America and I was fortunate to have a few acquaintances in Sucre. Claudia was kind enough to adopt me for the holidays, so even though I couldn't be with my family, she let me be a part of hers.
"And what diversity her family has: a third Bolivian, a third Swiss, and a third Brazilian. Language was a barrier between each set of families, but between Spanish, Portuguese, and German, we all managed to communicate. Bolivian Christmas is deeply religious so the house was decorated with a nativity scene. The feast was at her Grandmother's home and each person sat around the long table. A traditional Bolivian dinner was served in courses; Picana Soup, Salad, Turkey, and deep-fried donuts for dessert.
"We stayed up late drinking wine and bouts of singing covered the cheerful chatter of a beautiful family Christmas. To sum up the festivities, at the stroke of midnight, the city's skies were filled with the colours and sounds of fireworks."
4. Christmas in Nepal
Karen, deputy editor from southeastasiabackpacker.com had an incredible Christmas in Nepal...
5. Christmas in the Netherlands
Teresa from Travelicious.me is looking forward to spending a Christmas abroad in 2012...
"This year will be my first Christmas abroad. I'll be celebrating the Dutch Sinterklaas holiday with my boyfriend in The Netherlands. It's traditional to trade chocolate letters. I'll introduce him to Noche Buena, the Christmas Eve Spanish celebration where we'll have pernil (roasted pork) and lots of Coquito- a Puerto Rican eggnog. It will be nice to spend the holidays celebrating our very different cultures under the same roof!"
6. Christmas in Sydney
Neil from backpacksandbedbunks.co.uk spent Christmas in Sydney during his year abroad...
"I've only ever spent one Christmas abroad, unsurprisingly as a Brit I chose Australia as my destination and Sydney to be precise. I was staying in an absolute hell hole of a hostel with more than a few questionable roommates, but on the glorious Coogee Beach. I spent Christmas day on the sand eating BBQ and drinking beer with friends. It felt strange coating myself in factor 50 on Christmas Day, it didn't feel anything like what I would consider a normal Christmas to feel like. The shops were open, the buses were running, it felt like any other awesome gap year day and I kind of loved it for that reason. It was different from my usual Christmas and different was what I'd set out on my gap year looking for."
Make sure you enter our 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway over on Facebook to get some extra presents this year.
Still looking for some travel kit? Jump on the message boards and chat to your fellow gappers about what's the best travel kit to get.
Planning a gap year for 2013? Then make sure you head over to our planning section for more advice and information.
About the Author: Victoria Philpott
Victoria is the content and community manager at gapyear.com. She's travelled through Europe extensively, dropping in on a few festivals and picking up work as she went. She's an advocate of slow travel and has worked at camp in America for two summers before releasing the pressure in the clubs of Cancun. She's toured Australia, explored the Serengeti and backpacked through Morocco. A wise man once told her, ‘In the pursuit of seeing everything, we see nothing', and she tries to recite this to tame her travelling wants, but it's not working.