Christmas When Travelling
Christmas when travelling is something we have done a few times before. Manchester to Newcastle via Plymouth and Cornwall or London to visit family. Visits over a short period of four days that we had off work! I remember once we decided against a family Christmas to accept a friends invite to Canada for a real white Christmas. That visit involved a Boxing Day flight from Manchester to Toronto after drinking medically ill-advised amounts of red wine, port and a certain Irish cream the day before. I can honestly say that, Christmas looks a lot different now with children and whilst we travel. But…I can dream of relaxing in a hot tub, in sub-zero temperatures, overlooking the St Lawrence River whilst sipping champagne again though, right?
The champagne image above is an image link to a greeting card design by Amanda Loverseed and my stationery business. I'm an Independent Flamingo Paperie partner - click image to discover more...
Fast Forward a Few Years
One memorable Christmas and New Year holiday period we flew from Australia to the United Kingdom via Malaysia and Thailand with our four young children. Our youngest was only six months old but the timing meant we had holiday leave and enough funds at the same time. Flying long haul without a break is hard work - we know we've done that before. Once, I even flew with my two eldest boys by myself from New Zealand to the UK to see my ailing grandmother before she passed on. 40 hours non-stop with a 6 month old and a 3 year old newly diagnosed as ASD and with about 4 hours sleep is not an experience I'm keen to revisit anytime soon.
For a while we had been thinking about living in Thailand so we decided to visit Chiang Mai and a friend from University who lived there. We were nervous about Thailand and eating out due to our eldest suffering from a severe peanut allergy requiring an Epi-pen. He survived very well on egg fried rice with no sauce as we were also trying to stay gluten free at the time.
Anyway, back to Christmas! We were travelling light - 2 large suitcases between the six of us plus a travel cot! However, Christmas day rolled around and Jack received a large electric train set and the others equally bulky presents. I am good at jigsaws and years playing tetris were not wasted as I managed to repack all our clothes and new presents back in to our bags for the return journey. OK so I cheated a little as we took presents for family over so had that space to fill.
Experiences rather than gifts this Christmas
Gifting experiences rather than gifts is something Marie and her family over at Adventures in Family Travel know all about. Marie wrote a great post about why travel is the best Christmas gift. So rather than spending $1000's on lots of wrapped presents under the Christmas Tree, save for fantastic family travel adventures instead.
Travelling around the UK at Christmas
It was cold and wet, much colder than we were used to in central Queensland, Australia. We had hired a car online but had to upgrade as it just wasn't big enough - 7 seats meant zero boot! The picture online did not reflect the car we were offered. Was less than organised for Christmas so may have spent an hour rushing around a Toys R Us on Christmas Eve choosing one present each for the kids. We had a wonderful Christmas Day in Newcastle and set off on our way south towards Cornwall for a New Year's Eve with the children's great grandmother.
We stayed near Manchester with an old work colleague of mine, making good use of the inflatable kids ready beds we had purchased via Amazon and had shipped to Grandad in Newcastle. It's a bit rude to turn up with four children and ask for a room! We detoured to Wales to catch up with Alyson and family from World Travel Family. Our evening was spent in a curry house in a small Welsh village and may have been a little noisy (at least the other customers seemed to think so and beat a hasty retreat!). Our New Years Eve was spent in a small Cornish town's bowling club with my 86 year old grandmother and her friends. There was dancing and music, food and drinks, and we almost made it until midnight.
Christmas Gifts While Travelling
We had already discussed with the children that the trip to the UK from Australia was quite expensive and that Christmas would be less about presents and more about experiences this year. We have been moving more towards the 4 present philosophy for a while now and this year seemed a good one to start. Christmas Gifts - Something... ...you want ...you need ...to wear ...to read.
On our return to Australia the biggest surprise was yet to come. How we managed to keep a trip to Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia's Legoland a secret I'm not sure. Almost let it slip a few times whilst talking to family and friends. We actually flew into Singapore and travelled by taxi across to the Legoland Hotel. We had booked a pirate themed room for two nights and it was AWESOME! Our family are huge Lego fans and their faces on seeing Legoland for the first time are imprinted on my memories forever!!! One day I'll find the photos and write a post about it!
Christmas in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Christmas 2016 saw us in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. We had left New Zealand in March and headed for Malta via Kuala Lumpur. All our belongings fitted in to 4 suitcases and 2 large shoulder bags and weighed around 130kg. Adding to our load with Christmas presents was not part of the plan. Christmas Eve the tree and presents looked like this...
Christmas Las Palmas de Gran Canaria style!
We discovered a small Christmas tree and decorations in a cupboard in our long-term holiday rental so made good use of them. Although there might look like a lot of presents under that tree they were mostly useful clothes like new T-shirts and underwear. Our aunt and uncle sent licensed neck-scarves for the children which were greatly appreciated as it got cooler over the 'winter'. Being in one place for a few months meant we were able to receive post including parcels. Used to hear the doorbell and race down with my passport 6 floors in the lift before the post lady left to collect our parcels, otherwise it was a 20 minute walk to the post shop!
In Gran Canaria there seemed to be lots of fireworks. Any excuse to let them off and we were treated to colourful and loud explosions. Any Saints Days, Christmas, New Year and the Three Kings were just a few examples. The Three Kings Parade was particularly loud with lots of floats, the camels arriving via the harbour was a delightful highlight. Double Decker trucks blasting out loud music seemed to be the order of the day. We tried to watch but found the noise and strobe lights too much. We watched from a distance, observing those who turned up with step ladders to view over the 3 to 4 deep person crowds. You can pay lots of euros to be a guest on the party buses. It's a wonder more people don't fall off and get injured!
Christmas 2017 - where are we?
We've somehow ended up in Northumberland. So chances are we'll end up with some snow at some point. Been promising the children a proper white Christmas for many years now. They really want to build a snowman! It's cold...so cold! So....not used to single digit temperatures....going to have to buy a hat and hope our layering plan works all winter. Either that or we'll be on to Amazon to stock up on thermals! Please tell me I can get more choice than black and white?
Top Tips for Christmas Gifts When Travelling
Last year whilst in Gran Canaria the children received new tablets for Christmas, underwear and one toy.
Christmas Travelling Gifts
RSPB for Christmas
My aunt and uncle stopped in for a visit recently and asked about Christmas gifts for the children. Last year they received Buff licensed tube scarves which were well received. They packaged up small for posting and have been well used by the children, They got their favourite characters too: Frozen, Batman, Spiderman and Star Wars . We're reasonably mobile this year but following a conversation about feeding local birds (as we were in Cornwall) we agreed to an RSPB care package. We recently took delivery of bird feeders and bird feed which will be put out for the local bird life for winter. We are right beside a nature reserve so this gift is both thoughtful and useful.
How does Christmas look in your house?
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