I have two vacations coming up – one this fall and Christmas. I was pretty set on doing Vietnam and/or Cambodia in the fall and going back to the US for Christmas. But upon researching it that doesn’t seem like the best plan. Bottom line: it’s too expensive to do both. So now what? Skip fall break so I can go home or skip going home? I’ve spent the better part of the weekend trying to figure out what to do. Fall break is ten days long and a good time to explore this region of the world while live here. But Christmas is Christmas– the time for family and traditions.
On one hand I clearly need to be mindful of my budget. I had been dutifully paying off bills all year but then I went hog-wild this summer in the US. What was I thinking?! I regret spending so much now so it doesn’t make sense to now be planning two more big trips. On the other hand, I am living overseas and I have access to some interesting places to visit. If I move back to the US many of these places may become prohibitively expensive so shouldn’t I be taking advantage of them while here? I am in the position of being able to go *almost* anywhere (particularly if we skip the fall trip) so why not take advantage of that? It’s quite the conundrum.
In the end I have decided I can’t do both. Period. It’s not in the budget. So what gives? Well, I can see hanging around here for fall but I most certainly can not see doing that at Christmastime. Christmas is about family and traditions. Christmastime is church and carols, decorating the tree, special foods, stockings and snow. I love Christmas and it’s important to me to enjoy, share and create new traditions with my daughter. But we are not home. How do we do that as an expat? The traditions I started I couldn’t repeat in my parent’s house last year. Don’t get me wrong, it was enjoyable but it’s just not the same as Christmas in your own home.
Oh, I gotta be honest, looking at these pictures makes me sad. Maybe I should have done the overseas thing before I started a family? Or maybe I just need to figure out traditions that don’t involve ‘things’ so they can be with us wherever we are? I’m not sure but what I do know is, well, it is what it is. Christmas will not be in our house in DC. There is nothing I can do to change that. But then I started thinking. If Christmas can’t be celebrated at home with family then I should give myself permission to pick somewhere else in the world that would make me happy! And suddenly I had a totally different feeling about it. No, I can’t do a 5-star resort vacation but if I skip Indochina this fall I will have more money for a cool Christmas trip. So last night I started brainstorming and got totally giddy at the thoughts of all the cool trips we could take: London, San Miguel de Allende, Vienna or Bali. How about Naples, Lisbon or Prague? Heck, why not Bethlehem or Lapland?! I mean, come on! How amazing would those places be???
There so many factors other than cost –which is huge since I’m paying for two! But other important things to consider are places that are:
* a fun/interesting/kid-friendly (she needs to have fun, too)
* a place where I can talk to other adults and/or get time alone (I can not only spend time with a 4-year old for two+ weeks!)
* somewhere safe and easy to navigate
* a place that will be so fascinating/life-changing/memorable that I won’t miss my family
Keeping these in mind Europe sounds perfect. And I think there’s even a chance my parents might meet us there! I also reached out to a couple of friends to see if either of them might want to meet somewhere and they both expressed interest in possibly meeting in Europe. And then I looked at flights. Get this– I can get us both to Europe for around $2500 which isn’t cheap but it’s $1600 cheaper than going home (according to Orbitz).
So, tell me, if you could go anywhere in the world for Christmas where would you go?