19 Dec

A Travellers Christmas: Ali From Travel Made Simple

Some travellers love Christmas
 and lament that they can’t be home. Others enjoy the escape from the consumerism and endless carolling (put me in that camp!) and some look for the quirky that happens when other cultures interpret Christmas in their own land. I asked some traveller friends to share how they see and spend Christmas on the road; it’s like a peek into Christmas Around The World.

You can see all the ‘A Travellers Christmas’ posts here.

For the past 10 years, Christmas with my parents hasn’t really been what most would call traditional. My brother and the rest of our relatives don’t live nearby, so we didn’t have the huge gathering and big dinners. Instead my parents and I went down to Ft. Lauderdale, borrowed my uncle’s beach house, and sat in the back watching boats sail up and down the intercoastal waterway. We read books, relaxed in the warm weather, and waited for 5PM to roll around so we could make ourselves some drinks.

Florida Christmas

The first Christmas my husband and I spent together was while we were traveling in New Zealand. A few months after our wedding, I left for a round the world trip, I dream I had for years. Unfortunately Andy couldn’t join me, but we did plan two weeks together in New Zealand at Christmas and New Year’s. I’ll always remember that particular Christmas for two reasons: a lack of alcohol and earthquakes in Christchurch.

Searching for Drinks

On Christmas Eve, we checked into our hostel for a couple of nights, and the guy at the front desk told us they were hosting a Christmas barbeque at the lake the next evening. With no other plans for our Christmas feast, we decided to be social and join them. What the hostel staff failed to mention was that stores can’t sell alcohol on Christmas Day. Not that we needed to get drunk, but a few drinks to celebrate would’ve been nice.

We later found out most bars and restaurants were closed as well on Christmas Day, and the one pizza place that was open had its own challenges. They sold us a couple drinks along with some fries, but when we went for a third round, we were denied. It turns out there’s some strange rule that says you have to have a full meal in order to be served alcohol. I can only assume this is specific to Christmas. So after two drinks we probably should not have been served, we were cut off and instead wandered back to the lake to watch the sunset.

Queenstown Christmas sunset

Changing Plans

On Christmas morning, we woke up to news of strong earthquakes in Christchurch. Our original plan had us arriving in Christchurch on New Year’s Eve by way of a scenic train that Andy was really looking forward to. Deciding that visiting Christchurch in the midst of more earthquakes was probably not wise, we set about rearranging flights, bus transfers, and hostels.

This was when we really saw how well we can work together, plan things out and problem solve. We looked at our options and discussed were we might go instead. After working out the details, we split up tasks and got to work. What we ended up with was Dunedin instead of Christchurch, and cutting out the scenic train and a visit to the glaciers. But we also ended up with a little more confidence in our ability to work together.

View of Queenstown

Before getting married, our relationship was long distance, with Andy living as an expat in Germany and me living in Atlanta, so we were apart for the first Christmas we actually knew each other. We both love to travel, but before this trip to New Zealand we hadn’t taken many trips together that didn’t involve family or other friends. This was the first time we were traveling alone together for more than three days, a chance to see how we each really deal with being on the road.

Spending the holiday in Queenstown meant almost no alcohol, as opposed to easy access to our own stash of drinks at the house in Florida. It also meant making decisions and doing some major planning for the rest of our trip. The biggest decision my parents and I ever had to deal with in Florida was choosing a restaurant for dinner. But it was definitely an important Christmas for me and Andy, not only because it was our first together, but because it was the first major trip we took together.

I’m not sure Christmas will ever be a traditional sort of thing for us. But we’ll just keep making our own traditions and traveling along the way.


Ali Garland encourages people to travel, shows them how to plan trips, and helps them overcome their travel-related fears on her site Travel Made Simple. She has been traveling for almost 20 years and made it to all 7 continents before her 30th birthday. She and her husband are expats in Germany. You can also follow her on Facebook, and Twitter. Ali writes about her personal travels at Ali’s Adventures.

4 thoughts on “A Travellers Christmas: Ali From Travel Made Simple

  1. Pingback: Best of Travel 2012 | Ali's Adventures

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