Traveler's Test

21 unusual Christmas travel ideas for every kind of traveler

21 unusual Christmas travel ideas for every kind of traveler

5 travel challenges for a different December
5 reasons to include Manchester on your trip to the UK
Four practical handmade travel gift ideas

The challenge: this year, have a Christmas trip to remember.

A couples escape, a family holiday or a cliche-free solo trip – here’s a selection of our favorite quirky Christmas getaway ideas for a not-so-ordinary holiday season.

Because if you don’t bring the Christmas spirit in your heart, you won’t find it on your travels, even if you venture as far as Lapland.

Plus, if the legend is true, Santa will find you wherever you are.

This list will guide you through all the cool and unusual things you can do this Christmas. We encourage you to find the ones that resonate best with your traveler’s soul:

#1 Spend the night at a Bedouin desert camp

Sand, heat, camels: this image is the antithesis of every stereotypical Christmas card. So if you’re looking to do something different, why not head straight to the nearest desert? It doesn’t need to be a rough experience – you can stay in a luxury tent.

A luxury tent at Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan | Christian Piatt/Flickr

#2 Enjoy the glorious van life

This short video says it all in a very inspirational way:

Less Traffic, More Trips from Moment on Vimeo.

#3 Go skiing in a Santa costume

Cover yourself in a dollar-store Santa costume and stir up a little holiday confusion on the slopes of your favorite ski resort.

#4 Build an igloo and have a festive dinner inside

If you have kids, make them build the igloo while you prepare the dinner. Bring candles, warm blankets and woolen socks for everyone.

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#5 Go on a Christmas road trip

We’re not suggesting just any old road trip; for this challenge, you need to decorate the car. Head somewhere that’s open on Christmas Day, like a nature park or the historical center of a nearby city.

#6 Go boating or kayaking

Book a ticket on the nearest available cruise and sail the holiday season away. Or, if you’d rather travel under your own steam, swap the cruise ship for a kayak.

#7 Just go somewhere colorful

Head to Guatemala, Colombia, Venice, Thailand or anywhere with colors more vivid than a photoshopped image.

Guatemala | Ronald Cuyan/Unsplash

#8 Soak in a warm mineral pool (especially if it’s snowing outside)

There is nothing like immersing yourself in an open-air mineral pool in the winter. You’ll feel like you’re cheating nature as you watch snowflakes falling from above while you soak in warm mineral water, not caring about tiny details like weather forecasts or temperatures more suited to polar bears… Bring hot drinks with you.

#9 Spend the day in the company of animals

Don’t get me wrong, humans are okay… but I prefer animals because (other than parrots), I’ve yet to hear one assault my ears with “‘Tis the season to be jolly” for the 1,056,669th time in a row. In fact, I respect animals’ ability to detach from the holiday craze. Find some furry friends at a farm, a nature park or a zoo – whatever you have at hand will do.

A puffin in Iceland who doesn’t know a single Christmas carol | Jonatan Pie/Unsplash

#10 Fly to the cheapest foreign country available

Check your favorite airlines’ websites or a flight comparison website to see where you can escape at the last minute… and just do it. Life is short – you should make more silly decisions.

#11 Go surfing

Surfing is a cliche if you are Australian, and an unconventional treat if you are not.

Surfing on Christmas Day? Why not celebrate Christmas in an unusual way (except if you are Australian - then it's a cliche, I guess) | Conner Murphy

Surfing on Christmas Day? | Conner Murphy

#12 Rediscover yourself at a retreat

Why not head on a silence retreat, a meditation retreat or a nature getaway during the holidays? When the materialistic world becomes too overwhelming, it’s time to run away from it all and sit in silence to rediscover your inner self.

#13 Go skinny-dipping

This challenge is not for the faint of heart if you live close to one of the poles… but it’s still worth it if you want a Christmas to remember.

#14 Embark on a refreshing bicycle ride

If the weather isn’t too frightful, hop on your bike and enjoy a long, serene ride, making sure to occasionally glimpse through the windows of the houses you pass to see what other people do on Christmas Day. The best part about this is that the streets will be empty. Like, zombie-apocalypse empty. Have you checked out our bicycle-themed playlist to keep you company during your ride?

Santa, is that you? | Robert Couse-Baker

#15 Return to your pagan roots

Christmas is rooted in Christianity, but Christianity is rooted further back in time. Add a pagan flavor to the holiday season by using your days off to visit an ancient monument. It could be a megalith, a stone circle, a tomb or whatever ancient landmark you have nearby.

#16 Organize a snow picnic

Wrap yourself in warm clothes, pack some baked goodies and flasks full of tea and coffee (and rum, and whiskey…), and head out for a picnic in the crisp air. It’s a good idea to pack extra blankets and spare gloves. Here’s our full guide how to organize a winter picnic in the snow.

A picnic is always a good idea, no matter the weather | picseli

#17 Change the season

If you have spent your whole life celebrating snowy, white Christmases scented with the smell of chestnuts roasting on the open fire, then a little change will be more than refreshing. Head to another climatic zone and see what the change of scenery has to offer.

Change the season this Christmas | Thomas Kelley

#18 Travel to a neighboring city to eat at an exotic restaurant

As there is no Christmas in China, Bangladesh or Thailand, restaurants serving these national dishes will probably be open. Choose a nearby city and check which international restaurants there have the highest rating on Google, Facebook or TripAdvisor.

#19 Book a remote cabin in the forest

The more remote, the better. Keep it warm and cozy, staying by the fireplace and preparing your own mulled wine. Take advantage of the fact that you are close to nature and practice the Japanese art of ‘forest-bathing’: shinrin-yoku.

Go somewhere remote | Paul Itkin

#20 Climb somewhere high for a gorgeous view

Depending on your preferences, this may be a skyscraper, a mountain peak or a just a tree.

#21 Eat your Christmas lunch on a plane, train, etc.

Most public transportation continues running even on Christmas Day. Even if you are not forced to be on a plane or train on Christmas Day, you can arrange a journey for yourself and make the most of the trip. Bring some cookies and special cinnamon latte with you if you’re worried about missing the holiday spirit.

Pin it for later, because the Christmas craze may eventually become too overwhelming and you may want to escape:


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