By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
Our first holiday season as a travel healthcare couple left my husband and I feeling down as all of the decorations started going up in our cozy Wisconsin town. Christmas is a favorite holiday for both of us, and while we don’t do grand gifts for each other we had always made a point to go all-out decorating for the season back home.
We knew as travelers it didn’t make sense to buy a big tree or a bunch of decorations, and we definitely didn’t have space in our car to bring anything extra with us. However, we decided to go ahead and splurge on a few things that made the time of year feel a bit more festive and we ended up being very happy we did.
Hit up the Dollar Tree
- Dollar Tree is one of my favorite stores as a traveler because, well, everything is cheap so if it won’t fit to take to your next assignment you don’t have to feel bad donating it or passing it on to another traveler. Nearly our whole kitchen box was stocked via Dollar Tree, so we were usually familiar with the closest one at each assignment.
- For our holiday decorations, we set a $20 limit and were able to get a lot of cute (albeit a little cheesy) items to bring the holiday spirit to our rental. I was excited because they even had a little fake Christmas tree and some cheap bells we were able to hang to make our tree complete. Besides the tree, we also stocked up on window clings, a couple of festive table coverings, tinsel and some decorative placemats.
Buy a strand or two of lights
- Holiday lights are actually fairly inexpensive if you aren’t covering a whole house and they add a lot of sparkle to your space. Plus if you really want to keep them you can easily wind them up and find a space to store them in your travel belongings.
- While most people think of lights as outdoor decoration, we actually looped some around doorways in our rental to brighten up the space during the holiday season. It was pretty easy to do using some push pins, but 3M hooks would also work for this!
Stock up on holiday scents
- Leading up to the holiday season both Yankee Candle and Bath and Bodyworks typically have decent sales where you can stock up on some festive candles. I usually keep an eye out for the 50% off specials and stock up on some of the jar candles because we go through them fast enough that we don’t have to pack them up for the next assignment.
- If you’d rather not buy a huge candle, grab a candle warmer and some wax melts. This is a small appliance that can easily be packed for your next assignment, and you don’t have to worry about using up a whole jar candle or making room for a potentially breakable item in your packing.
Make a day of decorating and doing other holiday traditions
- Even if you don’t necessarily have a ton to put up or decorate, you can still make a day of the experience. Grab some hot chocolate or a holiday drink, take your time perusing the holiday aisles, and then finish off the day with a local light show or other holiday experience like ice skating.
- As a traveler we have found it is really easy to get homesick if you focus on what you don’t have–so instead we decided to focus on what we could do to make the season more special and it made a world of difference.
Invite other travelers to join in.
- I’ve said this before in other articles: if you are feeling lonely or a little homesick chances are other travelers in your area are experiencing the same thing. The holiday season can be an especially hard time of year to be away from home, which also makes it the best time of year to try and connect with others in the same boat.
- One of the coolest things I’ve seen other travelers do is host holiday get-togethers like a Friendsgiving or White Elephant party. There are so many ways to reach out and meet people thanks to social media, so why not find other people in your area who are also looking for a little holiday cheer this time of year?
Whether you are going home for the holidays or choosing to work and make that holiday pay, this time of year can feel a little overwhelming as we are bombarded with all the hype about time with friends and family and being home for the holidays. Even if you are able to go home for the actual day of Christmas, the lead up is sometimes more celebrated than the actual day. Just because you are on assignment doesn’t mean you can’t find your own form of holiday cheer, it just might look a little different than it would if you were home.
The huge positive for this time of year is it is a great time to bring people together and be warm and welcoming to both new friends and old. There are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays and bring some cheer into your home whether you are in your hometown or making your short term “home” as comforting and cozy as can be.
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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