Christmas is a special time of year, but my family hasn’t spent Christmas all together in a long time. Thanksgiving is the holiday in which we are almost always together – including this year when I flew back to the U.S. to surprise my parents!
Yesterday I woke up in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and jumped on a plane to Virginia to surprise my parents for Thanksgiving. Their reaction was worth the trip!
Posted by Lavi Nair on Thursday, November 26, 2015
Christmas is different. When I was working in New York, I used my vacation time in December to travel because that was the least busy time of the year – and I’d accrued many vacation days from working so much during the rest of the year. My parents also go to India to visit our extended family every December because it’s the nicest time of year to visit. I love the idea of a traditional Christmas and of course it was so fun to celebrate as a kid with a Christmas tree and presents, but when I look back on the past five years, I’m happy with the memories I’ve created celebrating Christmas all over the world.
2011: Iguazu Falls, Argentina
My first time traveling alone was on a tour through parts of South America (don’t judge me, I didn’t know what I was doing!). After a few glorious days in Rio de Janeiro, we visited both the Brazilian and Argentine side and stayed on the Argentine side over Christmas. Despite being the only 20-something traveler alone on the trip, I had a good crew of other people my age on the trip with their families. We went to the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls after seeing the Brazilian side. Watching the sheer force of the water at Devil’s Throat gave me feelings of vertigo and I actually vomited! But don’t worry, I was still good to go for the awesome and Christmas celebration we all had that night.
2012: Koh Phi Phi and Railay Beach, Thailand
The next winter, I was ready for my first backpacking trip. Southeast Asia was the obvious and most fun choice. I danced on the beaches of Koh Phi Phi just before Christmas and hopped on the ferry and long tail boat over to Railay Beach. It was not a bad place to spend Christmas morning, on the beaches of paradise with new friends.
2013: New York City, USA
I can’t believe I only spent one Christmas in New York City the entire time I lived there. Only one! I’d already used my vacation time for the year, but being in the city wasn’t so bad. New York City is one of the most beautiful places to spend Christmas. I love to see the city decked out in lights. I walked around 5th Avenue to look at the window displays, saw the tree at Rockefeller Center, and the light show on the front of the Saks 5th Avenue building. I celebrated Christmas Eve quietly in my studio apartment alone (but not lonely! I had wine, of course) and Christmas day at my cousin’s house with her amazing family. If I had to spend Christmas without my parents and brother in the U.S., this is exactly where I’d want to be.
2014: Salzburg, Austria
Teaching English in Madrid allowed me to have 2 weeks off for winter break in December. I flew over to Munich and began a Eurotrip to Salzburg, Cesky Krumlov, Prague, Brussels, and Bruges with one of my closest travel buddies, Alicia. We spent Christmas in Salzburg. The Christmas market was so ornately decorated and the mountains in the distance were dusted in snow; it was as if Christmas originated there. The entire trip was full of Christmas markets, and gorgeous European buildings covered in snow. Every day felt like Christmas!
2015: Panama City, Panama and Medellín, Colombia
Christmas marks a big day this year: I finish my nearly 4-month backpacking trip through Central America. I decided to splurge this year; I’m staying in a hotel room, not a hostel, for one night in Panama City, Panama on Christmas Eve. I plan to relax in the luxury of having my own room and comfy bed in air conditioning. I want to watch The Santa Clause, Home Alone and any other Christmas movie I can get my hands on, eat chocolate and drink wine. I can’t wait for some time to myself to reflect on my trip through Central America. On Christmas morning, I fly to Medellín, Colombia to celebrate with friends I met earlier on the trip in Nicaragua. It’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next: my return to South America! I can’t wait to explore this continent from the north, working my way south after my short stint in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile four years ago.
I’m happy for those who get to spend Christmas at home with a tree, gifts, and family, but the biggest gift I could ever give myself is travel. To spend the holidays in some exotic locations with people who have all become a part of my extended family of traveler friends is too big of a gift to put under a Christmas tree anyway.
Wishing you Happy Holidays!
Where in the world are you spending Christmas this year?