The first time I spent the holidays away from home, I was 17. My mother got me a one-way ticket 1,339 miles away from home. I packed my two suitcases, left my family, friends, and partner behind, rest assured those holidays were not fun at all. Truthfully, I’ve always been a very independent woman. It wasn’t the move that struck me. It was facing the holidays without what felt like holidays, aka family, friends, and traditions, that became a challenge.
This year marks my fourth holiday season away from home. I can assure you that I’ve made my new place, my new friends, and my new city feel the closest it can feel to a home, and that has served me well. Here’s how I make it happen year after year.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
To start, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. It can be challenging to manage your emotions during the holidays, especially if you’re away from home. Admit that you feel sad, stressed, or homesick, if you do this, you’re setting yourself up to success this season.
Plan a Trip
This is by far my best trick. When you’re on vacation during the holidays, it doesn’t feel as if you’re away from home. After all, you’re exploring a new place and engaging in exciting new activities far different from your daily life. Try to schedule a mini-vacation for the holidays, even if it’s a simple staycation.
Rely on Technology
Listen, you’re on your phone most of the time, use it for good this time. Instead of scrolling through your family’s get together pictures and stories, give them a call. With video calling, you can transport yourself to any room, anywhere in the world. Video calling can help you feel part of the moment without being there. Try to schedule a call at least every other day to feel close to home.
Celebrate Your Traditions
Whether you’re alone, with friends, or with a partner, keep your traditions alive. Nothing makes us feel more at home than doing the things we would do at home. Even if you’re on vacation, think ahead. For example, cooking dinner ourselves was a huge tradition in my family. So, every time I travel during the holidays, I do my best to rent an apartment with a kitchen, so we can come together and cook a meal to celebrate. I also follow with all my holiday traditions like eating 12 grapes before New Year’s or walking outside my house with a suitcase – you know the drill.
Avoid Your Triggers
We know what gets us going during the holidays. For me, it’s the sound of classic holiday songs from my hometown. I know that during low days, I must avoid these at any cost. Be aware of whatever triggers your emotions, and do your best to keep these at bay. This also ties into staying grounded and being realistic about your expectations. Sometimes you won’t be able to have a tree up, or cook your meal, or call your family. Don’t let these things bring you down, instead be aware of them in advance and fight them with cheer and positivity.
The holidays are never an easy thing to tackle on your own, so don’t be too harsh on yourself. Do your best to keep home with you in your heart, instead of thinking about it on a physical level. Soon enough, you’ll be able to handle the holidays away from home with bliss.