6 Tips for Celebrating Christmas on Vacation

Celebrating Christmas Away From Home Can Still Be Magical

The Christmas holidays can be a fantastic time to travel as a family, as it falls over an extended school holiday. Mom and Dad may also have an easier time getting off work since things seem to be a bit more laid back around the office this time of year. If you are considering a holiday getaway, your first question may be: how will you celebrate Christmas? Well, you are in luck. We’ve created a list of tips on how to celebrate Christmas while traveling.

Christmas is such a time of tradition and ritual that doing something totally different (like heading to the beach) almost seems wrong. However, with a bit of careful planning, you can preserve your family’s priceless holiday traditions and still have a great vacation. Here are some ideas for how to celebrate Christmas while traveling.

1. Celebrating Christmas Before Your Trip

One of the best tips when it comes to how to celebrate Christmas while traveling is to celebrate before you leave. This way, you can follow your normal family routines and head out for a great trip! When we have traveled over Christmas, we often decided to move Christmas. We simply choose another free day and declare it Christmas.

We wake up to our typical Christmas morning of cinnamon rolls, opening stockings, exchanging gifts, sharing a special meal, and then spending a lazy family day enjoying each others’ company. It may not work with older kids who question how you can move Christmas, but with a young child or toddler, it has worked great for us!

2. Celebrate Christmas on Your Trip

Moving Christmas may not work for every family. In those cases, it is still possible to go on your trip — you will just have to plan ahead a bit so you can take the essential elements of Christmas along with you! Perhaps it is those special stockings that your family hangs on the Christmas tree each year, or a special candle you light, a book you read, or a religious service you attend as a family.

You know what the special things are in your family that make it feel like Christmas. So, bake up a batch of grandma’s special Christmas cookies, pack the stockings and other important odds and ends and bring Christmas to your hotel room. Some have used a felt Christmas tree, or a tapestry of a Christmas tree to hang in their hotel room to make it seem a bit more festive.

As far as Christmas dinner goes, many hotels and resorts around the world will offer special festive meals to fill your tummies with holiday goodness. These are often accompanied with beautiful place settings, decorations, music and often visits from Santa to really make your holiday special.

If your hotel or resort is not offering anything, do some research in advance to see what holiday events may be happening in the town you are visiting. Virtually every town small and large in the U.S. will have special events for Christmas, and many cities around the world host festive happenings as well.

If you are traveling to one of the best European cities for Christmas, there is sure to be plenty of holiday magic in the air and celebrations to join in.

If attending a religious service is an important part of your family’s Christmas traditions, research services in the area before your trip and make a plan to attend one. Sorting these details in advance will ensure that your Christmas plans go off without a hitch.

3. Give Christmas Gifts on the Road

Gifts can be a tricky aspect of doing Christmas away from home, especially if you have young kids who are expecting a visit from Santa Claus. One idea is that you could have Santa deliver the stocking to the hotel along with a note that there are more gifts waiting at home.

If you plan to give the kids all their gifts at the hotel, it might be fun for the kids to write a letter to Santa explaining that they will be away and where they can find them on Christmas. Gifting experiences is also a nice way to give special gifts that do not take up a lot of room.

Zoo passes, amusement park tickets, sports tickets or other special experience gifts are a lot of fun and do not add much at all to your luggage weight or have a lot of small pieces that you can lose.

If you are planning to bring some presents, make sure you follow these guidelines for putting wrapped gifts in checked luggage to ensure there are not any issues.

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4. Celebrate the Holidays with Family and Friends

So as to not be labeled a Grinch during the holidays because you are skipping town, make sure you plan to send gifts and cards to those special people in your life. You will not want to forget someone in the hustle and bustle of travel, so do this well in advance. Make a gift and card list, and then ship those gifts out early. No one I know ever complained about getting an early Christmas gift!

5. Travel to Visit Family

If you are traveling to visit family for Christmas, this changes things somewhat. We have often done this, as we live far from our family. While it is quite special to get to spend the holidays with our family, we also find it a bit hard to feel like we really have our own family Christmas traditions.

As far as gifts go, we have found it easier to order most of our gifts online and ship them to the family members’ house we plan to celebrate at, or the family member we will be staying with. You can even order gift wrap and tags in advance so you do not have to rush out to the store and fight the crowds for the rolls that are left on Christmas Eve.

6. Include Your Kids in the Holiday Planning

Whatever the age of your kids may be, including them in the planning is an important part of making them feel included in your Christmas family vacation. We all want our kids to have special holiday memories. Letting them — in age-appropriate ways — choose some of the elements of Christmas that are important to maintain while on the road can be a key part of this.

This can also give them a place and time to voice any concerns they might have about traveling over Christmas, and give you the opportunity to address them as a family.

With these tips and a bit of advance planning, I am confident you know how to celebrate Christmas while traveling, and you can now keep the festive spirit alive.

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