Traveling Solo for the Holidays

solo holiday travel

When you think of the holiday season, you probably imagine being surrounded by family and friends, cozy by a fire sipping hot cocoa (unless, like me, you’re from Florida, in which case swap out fire and cocoa with pool and ice tea). Big meals, carols on the radio, and sitting by a twinkling Christmas tree. Everything Hollywood has been selling us for years.

But many people are planning to travel alone for the holidays this year. Any why not? There’s a lot to see out there, and this is a great time to maximize your days off from work. I’ve got some tips for those of you that have made the leap into solo holiday travel. 

Experience the Holidays Abroad

Depending on your destination, you might still be celebrating Christmas, just in another country. This gives you a chance to experience the different ways the holiday is spent around the world. Pop-up ice rinks, festive lights and decorations, and the local food specialties can usually be found by wandering. Christmas markets in Europe draw people in from all corners of the globe during the weeks leading up to December 25th. Some countries have additional holidays and celebrations, like St. Lucia’s Day in Sweden, and Noche Buena throughout South America.

And in some countries, it will be business as usual. Thailand, Morocco, Maldives, the Bahamas, and Turkey are a few countries that do not celebrate Christmas. Asia in general does not celebrate much, as the Chinese New Year is their big gift-giving holiday. Rule of thumb: if the country does not have a significant Christian population, they will not have the public festivities you might be used to at home.

Whether or not you are in a country that celebrates, there is still Christmas Day to think of. In countries that do not celebrate, you can ignore the holiday and go exploring as usual. But if Christmas is celebrated locally, everything will be closed, and you’ll still need to figure out how to spend your day. The years I have spent Christmas on my own, I’ve ordered Chinese take out and binge watched Netflix. I suggest finding some food the day before in case you cannot find anything open the day of. Christmas might be the perfect day to go take pictures, since many busy squares and attractions might be emptier than usual.

Solo holiday travel
Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

White Christmas?

Now this may come as a shock to some, but it’s not cold everywhere in December. I know, how can you have Christmas without the hope of snow and a chill in the air? Well, half the world is experiencing summer, and more than that if you count the places in the Northern Hemisphere that are in the tropics.

I’ve spent more of my Decembers (27 out of 30, to be exact) in the heat than in the cold. Every year I wake up and optimistically put on a sweater, hoping the air conditioning will be chilled enough to make this a comfortable clothing choice. But within a few hours I’ve changed into something more reasonable, a tank top or summer dress.

You laugh, but the weather can really throw you out of sync. If you’re headed to a warm destination and are used to a white Christmas, you should start mentally preparing now. And pack appropriate clothing. If you’re doing the opposite (used to heat, headed to cold), make sure you have enough warm clothing. You may or may not be spending the day outside, but even inside with the heat on it can sometimes be chilly.

solo holiday travel
Photo by on Unsplash

Skype with Family

Make sure you schedule a time to quickly Skype with friends or family so that you can have a few minutes with them and let them know how you’ll be spending the day. If you think that might make you feel guilty or lonely, I strongly suggest staying off social media. It can be hard to spend the holidays alone, even if you chose to do it. So be aware of what you’re feeling about it, and take care of yourself!


This is a great time of year to give back to others if you have the opportunity. Volunteering abroad can give you the chance to not only contribute to communities, but also experience local traditions during this festive season. I found this site if you’re interested in incorporating volunteering into your solo holiday travel.

volunteer as part of your solo holiday travel
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Where are you planning to spend the holidays? Let us know in the comments!