This blog post was updated on October 12, 2018.
Being in the midst of the Mediterranean in November should be more of a joy than a letdown. However, for some Americans, being away from the USA for the holidays can be detrimental to enjoying travel in the process. Feelings of homesickness present, but there are ways of bringing your own Thanksgiving to wherever you are in the world.
Plan a feast with anyone and everyone you know: While studying in Sicily, I was lucky to have a group of students around me in the same boat, away from home for the holidays. Instead of graveling and being down, we began planning our own feast. Everyone had to contribute. Like turning lemons into lemonade, we turned pasta into a Thanksgiving meal.
If you are new to place this can be difficult. However, if you make the effort by looking for groups of foreigners or teaching some locals your holiday ways, Thanksgiving is possible anywhere in the world. Extend the invitation. Someone will accept.
Try your hand at cooking: Once the meal has been planned, cooking in a foreign country can lend great insight into a place. Shopping alone presents key cultural exchanges when you must deal with vendors and haggle down the price of carrots. While I am no cook, toying with my easy bake oven in Sicily allowed me to do as the Sicilians do, making a home cooked meal for the masses. Granted, I did only prepare a fruit salad.
Don’t be afraid to maintain customs of your Thanksgiving back home: No matter where you are in the world, make Thanksgiving as it were at home. If you are used to watching a certain movie, decorating or playing a game with loved ones, try and simulate those same customs. It will make the day feel more “normal” even if you are half way around the world. Some will say you should embrace where you are instead, but why not let the place embrace you and your holiday just for a day.
Make the most of it: Standing with a mix of Italians and Americans chatting over turkey had this strange feeling of home. No matter where you are, make the most of the holiday. It just may be a key cultural opportunity to mix two groups into one. My Sicilian Thanksgiving was without a doubt one of the most memorable Thanksgivings. If I had been homesick, spending the night watching Italian game shows, I would have never had such a rare cultural experience. Watching another culture embrace yours in the middle of their land lends one of the powerful connections you can only find in the traveling world.