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The 12 breaks of Christmas (for women who don’t want to stay home)


Can I start by clarifying that I LOVE Christmas! The lights, the turkey, the presents, the tree, the family time, the television, the traditions, the sprouts, the bickering… Everything! But sometimes even I feel that Christmas can be a little bit samey, a bit repetitive. Claustrophobic even.

Image by Roberto Trombetta on flickr


Having spent two Christmases away from my family (one festive trip to Rome and one sun-soaked break with not a turkey in sight in Ecuador), I appreciate the benefits of a Christmas break from tradition and relatives. It’s a chance to assess what parts of the Christmas holidays work for you and what, if any, you’d like to change, boost or lose completely.

And if nothing else, a Christmas away from home can help you appreciate (tolerate?) the family time even more when you spend next Christmas with relatives. Having said that, I understand that for some of us it’s the relatives, or lack of them, that’s the problem.
With all that in mind, I’ve come up with 12 alternative Christmas break ideas for women, whether you want to ramp up the festive fun or forget it’s even Christmastime at all.
Christmas? What Christmas?
Forget that 25th December has any significance whatsoever on an alternative Christmas holiday.
1. Head to Zambia for a once-in-a-lifetime safari and make sure you’re at Victoria Falls for the full moon on 2nd January so you can see the Fall’s kaleidoscopic midnight “moon-bow” (lunar rainbow). Beats fairy lights every time.

Image by Sameer Patel on flickr

2. Go on a silent retreat and meditate your way to the sort of zen Christmas you’ve always dreamed about.
3. Set yourself a monumental challenge that’s guaranteed to take your mind off what may or may not be the most wonderful time of the year. How about climbing Kilimanjaro in the snow?
Escape the relatives.
Swap Christmas and family responsibilities for friendly companionship on a group tour.
4. This Responsible Travel 14-day small group tour to Peru departs 16th December and goes to Lake Titicaca, Cuzco and Machu Picchu – and there’s no mention of the C word.
5. If you’d still like to acknowledge Christmas but on your terms, try Responsible Travel’s 15-day Christmastime trip to Rajasthan, India, departing 20th December. You’ll spend Christmas Day at an extravagant pool-side champagne lunch and see in the New Year at a suitably Rajasthani party. The rest of the trip is spent doing yoga, riding bikes, camping by a lake and seeing the Taj Mahal.
Take it to the Christmas max
Up the ante on one of these profoundly Christmassy experiences.
6. Have a white Christmas – in the Arctic Circle. In December, Tromsø is a bright bauble of festive cheer in northern Norway’s otherwise dark and cold winter months. See the Northern Lights, go dog sledding and cross country skiing, and visit the famous Arctic Cathedral.

Image by Ronel Reyes on flickr

7. Remember the true meaning of Christmas in Rome. Tour the Eternal City, see the traditional nativity scenes and go to mass in the city’s many churches (there are lots of free concerts too), and see the Pope speak in St Peter’s Square on Christmas Day.

It’s Christmas, but not as you know it…

If you’re used to Christmas in the northern hemisphere, sample the delights of a traditional Christmas in the south, and if you’re from the south, head north.

8. Head south to Australia for Christmas with all the trimmings – under a scorching sun. Sydney has Christmas markets, choirs belting out carols, and shops bedecked with Christmas decorations. Spend Christmas Day basting yourself with sun cream on Bondi beach!

9. Goodbye sunshine, hello olde-worlde traditional Christmas in Tallinn! Regardless of whether or not the medieval old town of Estonia’s capital is sprinkled with snow come Christmas, the cobbled lanes possess a fairy-tale quality. The annual Christmas market in the Town Hall Square is reputed to be one of the most beautiful in Europe, and the first Christmas tree displayed in Tallinn – and probably the world – was put up here in 1441.

10. Put a Hawaiian spin on the traditional take on Christmas. Forget thick boots and a warm red suit – in Hawaii Santa wears flip flops and an Aloha shirt!


Image by Gabe Knezek on flickr

Keep the Christmas spirit alive
Just because you don’t want to stay home for Christmas doesn’t mean you don’t believe in the spirit of Christmas.
11. Take a volunteer holiday over the Christmas season and reflect on how much nicer it is to give than to receive.
12. Or enjoy a family Christmas – just not with your family – on a homestay. Decide where you want to go, book a homestay and have a local as your host and guide.
Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!
Here are few trips that members of the Thelma & Louise community are planning over Christmas 2017. Join them!
Where are you spending this Christmas?