How To Survive Christmas Away From Home

So you’ve got an epic trip planned for the summer break. Firstly, WOOO! You’re going to be travelling, adventuring, meeting new people and learning about this big and beautiful world. Unless you’re on a Contiki trip, in which case you’ll be binge drinking your way around Europe. Good luck! Secondly, you’re going to be travelling or binge drinking on Christmas! WOOO-WAIT-WHAT?! And being a twenty something human, you realise that you’re not quite prepared to spend Christmas away from your family, friends and home. You’re in that awkward phase of being independent and wanting to create your own new traditions, experiences and badass memories. But at the same time you also want your Mum to cook you food, do your laundry and watch The Grinch with your little cousins whilst digesting your food baby.

Well luckily for you, this year will be my second Christmas overseas, so I think I know a thing or two about surviving that jolly time of year where it’s apparently socially acceptable to wear candy cane earrings and play Christmas carols for the entire month of December.

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Make Plans

The first time I spent Christmas away from home was when I was 19 and living in London. My housemates and I cooked a huge feast and got ridiculously drunk. We bought a little Christmas tree and decorated it with tinsel and beer bottle caps, classy I know. I was lucky I got to spend that Christmas with such dear friends. But wherever it is you find yourself, whether it be a hostel, a hotel, a tent or a flight… make some epic plans. Do something wild, or crazy or out of the ordinary. Not only will it keep you busy and your mind occupied, but you’ll then remember that wild time you did a nudie run in Switzerland, made a giant snowman in Canada, or swam through a waterfall in Indonesia on Christmas, for the rest of your life.

Buy Alcohol… lots of alcohol

Ok, I’m not going to lie, alcohol definitely helped me through that Christmas in London. If you put a group of young Australians together, with no parental or adult supervision, you’ve got a recipe for a wild day and night. Honestly… alcohol… enough said.

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Plan a Secret Santa

Secret Santas aren’t just for middle aged ladies working at your local grocery store. Secret Santa is the cheapest and easiest way to recreate Santa’s visit to your house. You don’t even have to go through the stress of organizing who has who as a Secret Santa. Just plan for everyone to bring a gift, chuck it under your Christmas tree, and after a few drinks when someone rightfully puts on a Santa hat and beard, the gifts can be randomly distributed. Plus, you don’t have to put out milk and cookies for Santa. Those cookies have your name on it.

 Embrace local culture

Did you know that in San Francisco and New York City, they hold an event called ‘SantaCon’ where everyone dresses up as Santa Claus and takes to the streets to partake in an epic pub crawl? Or that in Ukraine they add spider webs to their Christmas trees? And did you know that in Japan, there’s lines out the doors for KFC on Christmas day? Yes… KFC! Christmas means different things to different people across the world, it may be a day to celebrate with friends and family, a day to eat, a day to rest or just another ordinary day. Wherever you are in the world, get amongst the local culture to celebrate Christmas the way the locals do!

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So Merry Christmas wherever you are in the world. If it’s filled with laughter, alcohol and inappropriate gifts, you’ve done Christmas right.

Simple Savings: Funding Your Travel

A large barrier that many people seem to face to travelling is Money. It’s true that money doesn’t buy you happiness but it sure does help. And it is a realistic yet silly obstacle that gets in our way. I funded my GAP year myself by working two jobs and my ass off to get there. And now, I’m currently saving for my next big adventure, exchange at university. I’m no stranger to putting away the pennies, so here are my little tips and tricks to help you maximize on savings so you can start your adventure sooner.

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Cut on the spending. I know this seems like the obvious one, but once you’re aware of how much money you’re spending each week on things that you don’t necessarily need, it’s a quick way to hold on to your valuable dollars.

Firstly, for one week, keep a note of all the things you spend money on. Include all the little things like coffee, lunch, online shopping etc and add up the total. WARNING: the first week you do it, it might scare you.

Secondly, for the next week, do it again, but this time, try and reduce your unnecessary spendings by half. By cutting these spendings by even just half, can save you a lot of money.

For example, I used to buy two coffees a day at work/uni, then maybe a snack, do some online shopping at ASOS (which I love btw), go out, buy tickets to everything… I was earning money and then spending it. By cutting my expenses by half, I restrict myself to one coffee a day (everyone needs coffee, I can’t cut all of it), making my own lunch, limiting myself to one ASOS shop per month, I’ve already seen my bank account look much healthier.

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Save Save SAVE! Again… obvious, but there’s certain ways that you can save your money which will see your savings grow much faster so you can jump on that train even sooner.

Put your pennies away for a rainy day. Or in this case, a holiday. Any small change you find/happen to have tucked away at the bottom of your bag… put it in a jar, in your room where you’ve made a promise to yourself that you won’t touch, and once it’s full, take it to the bank. It’s always rewarding to physically see some money (even if it’s not much) go towards your holiday.

Set yourself a goal with your savings each week. And stick to it! Even if it’s $50 a week, it’s all going to add up. Personally, I get paid different amounts each week and therefore it can fluctuate. But the minimum I’d put into my savings account is $50. Then at least I know that my savings will be growing.

Don’t touch it. Once your savings start to grow, don’t touch it! I always try and set up a savings account that isn’t linked to my card so I’m not tempted by any sales. It always helps if your separate account has a high interest rate as well, just to earn some extra money.

If you’re not sure… ask. Talk to you bank about the best option to save money. When I was saving for my GAP year, that’s exactly what I did and ended up getting a term deposit for a few months which automatically added an extra few hundred dollars to my savings.

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If you’re super committed and want money fast for that last minute holiday of yours… try these simple money saving hacks.

  1. Sell all of your old clothes.
  2. Cut back on the coffee all together (if you’re willing to do this, then I applaud you).
  3. Live off of Mi-Goreng.
  4. Work two jobs (who really needs sleep).
  5. Work for tips.
  6. Offer to do jobs for your friends and family for a small fee (i.e car wash, mowing the lawn).
  7. Tutor someone.
  8. Read a book instead of going out.
  9. Use a gold detector.
  10. Know that it’s all worth it for your ultimate travel experience!

Do you have any simple savings ideas that you use to help fund your travel? I’d genuinely love to know and I’m sure many others would as well!

xxx A