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I love Christmas! It’s my favourite time of the year, but I find it really difficult to get into the Christmas spirit abroad. Last year in Canada we had snow, which at least helped a bit. This year, however, we’ll spend Christmas in Australia – most likely with 30+ degrees Celcius! Celebrating Christmas as a backpacker isn’t easy, for several different reasons.

This will be my second year away from home during Christmas, and I’ve learnt a lot from last year even though this will be pretty much my first Christmas without snow – I’m prepared, and here are my best tips on how to celebrate Christmas as a backpacker!

Beautiful Christmas trees
We found these beautiful Christmas trees in a mall in Calgary!

5 ways to get in the mood for Christmas as a backpacker

If you’re as crazy about Christmas as I am, you’ll probably wanna do anything you can to find the Christmas spirit when you’re abroad. The hardest part for me is being away from family and friends, and having them come and meet me on the other side of the world is unfortunately not an option. However, there are some things you can do when you’re celebrating Christmas as a backpacker to help you get in the mood for Christmas – and, of course, they’re budget-friendly!

Christmas lights

I love Christmas lights! In Canada, we actually did pay to visit Zoolighs – which honestly was worth it, especially if you think about everything that’s included. However, there are free options too! Depending on where in the world you are at the moment, you might even just have to step outside to see Christmas lights. That’s one thing I really like with Australia – even though there’s no snow but 30+ degrees Celsius instead, people still put out snowflakes, reindeers and colourful lights.

You can also light up your room! Fredrik gave me a glowing snowman that shifts between blue and red – it does more for that Christmas feeling than you think.

Glowing snowman - decorating while celebrating Christmas as a backpacker
This is how we decorated our room in Calgary last year.


Hand in hand with Christmas lights, other decorations are important as well! If everything looks like it usually does, how would you know it’s Christmas? Most of all, I wish we could have a Christmas tree but, unfortunately, that’s a bit too much to carry around as a backpacker, even for a Christmas lover like me… Instead of getting a Christmas tree, we decided to decorate our cactus when we rented a room in Calgary last Christmas. This year we’ll be staying at a hostel in Australia for Christmas though, so the opportunities for decorating is not quite the same.

That’s why you should decorate yourself instead – buy a Christmas sweater, or t-shirt! I found this one in Calgary for $10 (CAD!), so I just couldn’t resist. It’s not as colourful as I usually would prefer for Christmas, but since I love pandas I went for it anyway. Here in Australia though, I’m most likely to buy a t-shirt instead – it’s just way too warm for a sweater. I’ll probably go for a Santa hat as well, you’ll find plenty to choose from at pretty much any dollar store here!

Christmas sweater
Christmas as a backpacker probably means no Christmas tree – decorate yourself instead!

Food and snacks

I love food! And snacks! Now that we’ve been backpacking for over a year, anything other than pasta makes me quite excited, to be honest. Food and snacks are an important part of Christmas for sure, and very different depending on where you’re from. I’m honestly not the biggest fan of Swedish Christmas food so I can’t say I miss it that much. It’s also the same food we eat for basically every holiday (and, yes, it includes meatballs) but I do love our Christmas snacks! Knäck is one of my favourites (it’s like a Christmas toffee), just as saffron buns and gingerbread cookies. As a Swede, my best tip is to go to IKEA. They have lots of yummy Christmas snacks and, even if you’re not a Swede, I’m sure you’ll love the gingerbread cookies.

If you have access to an oven, I suggest making your own Christmas snacks and food from home to get into the Christmas spirit – or why not try something typical for the country you’re visiting!

Here’s a recipe if you want to try out one of my favourite cookies for Christmas – just remember, Swedish gingerbread cookies are supposed to be thin!

Swedish gingerbread cookies
Make your gingerbread cookies thin if you want to make them the Swedish way!

Christmas as a backpacker – with other backpackers

Regardless if you’re travelling solo or with a friend or partner, one of the best ways to celebrate Christmas as a backpacker is spending it with other backpackers in the same situation! They, if anyone, will most likely understand if you feel homesick or if you just feel like celebrating Chrismas in a completely different way than you’re used too. Ask your hostel if they’re having a gathering for Christmas or check out different backpacker groups on Facebook.

You might also get the chance to celebrate Christmas with a local, which could be a lot of fun and very interesting! That’s what we did last year in Canada. We got to try a lot of new food that we hadn’t tried before and experience the Canadian way of celebrating Christmas – it was a great experience!

Participate in happenings

Just like you can celebrate Christmas with fellow backpackers or locals, there are usually also, depending on where you are, several different events during the whole month of December that you can participate in! Go watch a choir or free concert, have a chat and take your photo with Santa at the mall, visit a Christmas market, go to Christmas parties and, if you’re working, you might even be invited to Christmas dinner! We were quite lucky in Canada since we were working at a place that had several Christmas events. This year we’re more relying on events created by the hostels we’re staying at!

Christmas at the mall.
Remember to check out what’s happening at the mall around Christmas!

Wherever you are, I hope you get into the Christmas spirit if you feel like it’s still missing. If you’re celebrating Christmas as a backpacker away from home, we’re in the same boat – hopefully some of my tips will help you!

Backpacker or not, home or abroad – Merry Christmas!

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This Post Has 6 Comments

    1. Amanda

      God jul Maria! Vi har bestämt oss för att röra oss mot BC efter nyår, men vi vet inte exakt var än haha! Någonstans där vi kan hitta jobb relativt enkelt! Hoppas du får en fin jul! =)

    1. Amanda

      Tack så mycket Alva! Vi gör vårt bästa haha! God jul<3


    i wish to travel to country with snow to celebrate christmas…I have never celebrate like a real christmas traditions…

    1. Amanda

      Yes, snow makes Christmas extra special! Aim for Canada or the Nordic countries during Christmas for next year!

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