As Christmas approaches, my friendship group tends to split into two types of people: those who spend Christmas at home and those who travel for the holiday season.
As soon as 1 December strikes, those in the first group set about decking their homes in fairy lights and holly. Those in the latter buy a Christmas jumper and talk about the nightmare of travelling in the days before Christmas. We won’t mention those who get out the tinsel in November…
Recent studies* show that more and more people are choosing to spend Christmas abroad, but I’m more interested in the reason why so many people – including women like us – are choosing to spend Christmas away from home. The personal stories behind the percentages.
I’ve spent two Christmases abroad. I’ve seen the Pope bless the crowds in St Peter’s Square in Rome and celebrated Christmas Day with a BBQ on a beach in Ecuador. It sounds magical, but I surprised myself by taking only muted joy in both of my Christmases away from home. I missed my family. I missed the traditions that make this time of year so special to me. I hated the lack of familiarity and routine, which came as a surprise to my nearest and dearest as I hate routine the other 364 days of the year.
It seems my Christmas homebody tendencies put me, a traveller at heart, in a shrinking majority.
“For Christmas 2019 I will again, head somewhere warm and sunny and distract myself from missing my family.”
So why do so many women travel over the Christmas period? While many cite warmer weather as their main reason to take a holiday at this time of year, for others it’s more complicated. Some need to be away from home at what can be an emotional time, others want to escape the pressure of marking “the most wonderful time of the year.” These are the stories I hear time and again from members of the Thelma and Louise community.
For Joanna, it’s a need to take her mind off her scattered family.
“It started 12 years ago when my three daughters got married. We now needed to factor in the son-in-laws. Of course, their families wanted to be with their sons on the holidays too. So, we agreed on an “every other year” solution. My first year of not having my daughters home for Christmas, I put a big wreath on my door, with a black ribbon. No lights, no trees, no Xmas cards. I went into mourning. So, headed to Isla Mujeres, MX where it was warm, sunny, and there were no signs of Christmas. It was beyond sad.
Last year was our year for Christmas, and this year we are all together for Thanksgiving. I now have five grandchildren, ages six to nine. We’ve spent the last three days discussing plans for Christmas 2020. We’ve decided on a Caribbean cruise.
For Christmas 2019 I will again, head somewhere warm and sunny and distract myself from missing my family.”
For Musttravel is about better weather avoiding the emotional time before and after Christmas.
“I am recently retired but still do some nursing agency shifts. This enables me to leave town at Christmas. That way I get to choose a place where the weather is better, brighter and less depressing. I also get to avoid the big emotional lead up to Christmas with the subsequent and inevitable disappointment that follows. Weather is perhaps only suitable in certain areas of the world during the winter months here in the UK/Ireland.
My trip starts in Hanoi, and I am joining an organised tour run by Intrepid.com. It's an extensive tour, fast-moving, covering major places in Vietnam, some Cambodia and some Thailand. I know it is going to be amazing.
I have made several trips with the T&L women and they have been fabulous trips, I'm just sorry they will not be with me on this trip. Those trips give me the courage to proceed on this trip.
If you are interested in joining Musttravel, check out her trip.
For others, it’s about reducing the physical and mental burden that so often falls on women in the run-up to silly season. Chanel No5 nails it in her description of the Yuletide trip to Ireland she’s planning:
“Away from the stove and protocol...why not think about Number One for a change! If you are likely to be family free or family less I would like to hear your suggestions of celebrating the turn of old to new year the Irish way...”
Here are a few more insights and first-hand reasons why so many of us travel over Christmas, shared by Thelma & Louisers over on our Facebook Page and Facebook Group:
- “It’s a break for me. I did the family thing, made the great Christmas experience for everyone: house decorated, beautiful tree, presents for everyone, big dinner. It’s lots of work. I realised I set a trap every year and caught myself. We decided to forgo Christmas gifts and take a trip getaway from all the Christmas nonsense. It’s a major load off my back.”
- “I don't travel during the holidays, but the longer you are on earth, you lose love ones and Christmas isn't the same. I think for many it is a way to get through the days.”
- “I am traveling over Christmas because I don’t want to be holed up alone in my city of work. If I am on my own during Christmas anyways, I better see new places!
- “I'm travelling to Germany at Christmas time to escape the Australian heat! Getting worse each year with climate change!”
- “For the first time I am traveling over the holiday by myself. Since I am alone and my family does not get together until after the 1st of January, I figured why not go and enjoy myself in what I call my happy place. IRELAND!!! Very excited!!”
- “I got fed up with trying to keep everyone happy…morning at your dad’s, pick up, go see aunty this or uncle that. Bollocks to all that because I don’t enjoy MY Christmas. So we decided together to bugger off!”
For others though, a Christmastime trip is more of a pipedream…
- “I would love to go away at Christmas, either alone or with my daughter and her b/f or with friends, depending on what kind of trip it were. Last year for NY I went to Istanbul alone, a few years back my daughter and I went to Vienna for Christmas (way too cold to visit LOL). I just like to get away as often as possible. Sitting at home (especially in the colder months), I tend to be lazy and/or clean, cook and do chores; when travelling all that is off the list. At Christmas I would prefer to travel to a warmer climate (Seychelles or Vietnam or Caribbean, etc). Or maybe just the once go somewhere like Lapland for the snowy ambiance.”
- “I would travel during Christmas, but the weather here in Canada and the unpredictable airline delays and schedules make for big headaches, LOL.”
- “I would travel during Christmas, but the weather here in Canada & the unpredictable airline delays & schedules make for big headaches, lol.”
While for the rest of us, Christmas is all about being at home…
- “I stay home – I like the Christmas markets – but I'd rather cuddle under a blanket with my cat :)”
*A 2016 YouGov poll showed that nearly 25% of Brits have travelled overseas for Christmas, and 42% of Brits would consider it for future Christmases. A 2018 Expedia poll that estimated that 9.1 million Brits would go abroad for Christmas Day.
How do you feel about travelling over Christmas?