A Different Christmas Culture: Travel

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

―St. Augustine

Christmas in Indonesia is somewhat different from Christmas elsewhere. We still have the ever-rampant Christmas sales everywhere, but the tradition in celebrating it is rather different.

More often than not, only few families here gather around and exchange gifts and eat scrumptious meals and enjoy the warmth of a family the way everyone else does. When it comes to Christmas, the most popular question here would be “Where will you go?”. Christmas is a peak holiday season where families here would travel abroad in the Christmas – New Year time period.

This is a part of our culture, but still resembles the Western culture of Christmas in the way the spirit of giving is emphasized (parents here give kids gifts, only in the form of a one-week paid trip to Hong Kong with family, or equivalent). However, we practically chopped off all unnecessary physical items to be bought as gifts and substituted it with quality time in a quality place other than home. Less clutter.

Aside from that, giving a travel gift helps us not to indulge in impulsive purchases. No more window shopping or anything like it, especially when “SALE” is printed everywhere during Christmas.

On the other hand, the sad truth is that most people (in Indonesia, as I see it) would only visit the popular tourist attractions. They merely give short-term chills and thrills that would eventually be replaced by the next travel holiday season. In the end, all we remember would be something that seemed repetitive and monotonous (theme parks, theme parks, theme parks). They are not important.

Comparatively, travel is better than physical gifts in terms of value (memories last longer than physical objects). Travel also demotes the endless Christmas shopping spree. But is travel the right Christmas gift? There is no same answer for everyone. To me, travel is a great gift choice if it does not involve the same-old go-to tourist attractions, but the lesser-known, culture-related destinations that can expand our world view. Attending local events, tasting local delicacies and conversing with the natives of the area are great places to start. As for families, some creativity might be useful to spice up their holiday plans, because some of these lesser-known destinations are not necessarily approved to be ‘fun’ for kids. Tell the great stories that comes with the destination, make them feel comfortable and excited.

Travel is the window to the world, and not merely a pleasure haven. With Christmas just around the corner, will travel be your Christmas gift this year?

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