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Far From Home? Check These 7 Tips for Celebrating Thanksgiving Abroad

Written by Going Places

Traveling during the holidays can be the perfect recipe for all sorts of complications, even when you stay at home—cranky relatives, cranberry sauce that just won’t gel, or not enough room on the couch to nap are just a few examples. For those traveling abroad, however, you’re likely to face more pressing issues. Honoring such an important holiday in a foreign country is such a unique experience, after all! That’s why we want to help you with these seven tips to make you excel at celebrating Thanksgiving abroad!

To Stay or to Go?

Since it’s just a regular Thursday for the rest of the world, you shouldn’t expect special menus in restaurants. Hotels catering to Americans, however, may have turkey on the menu for the day! Call ahead and ask…they might even help you find a different place! If you’re going to an apartment or villa — which is more economical if your family is big — then cooking your own dinner may be the next best thing when it comes to getting homey results!

Go Local

While we all miss the flavors of home, remember that you’ll be back for Christmas dinner soon enough. That means…embrace the local options! That may mean skipping the holiday entirely, or better yet, incorporating local elements into your meal—have raclettes instead of mashed potatoes if you’re skiing in Switzerland, or couscous instead of stuffing if you’re sunning in Morocco. Who knows, you may find a new favorite to bring home for next year!

Find a Dinner to Join Through American Expat Groups

Most Americans living abroad are familiar with others like themselves. It’s only natural, when you move to a new country, to form relationships with others from your homeland. After all, you speak the same language and share cultural traditions. Thanks to social media, it’s easy to find fellow American ex-pats in your new home. You can probably find a Facebook group or local associations specifically for Americans. When you find yourself craving a Thanksgiving celebration, your ex-pat friends are the perfect resource. One of them might be throwing a Thanksgiving celebration and invite you to join. If that happens, make sure to offer to bring something to share. Or, if no one else is organizing anything, offer to hold a potluck. It’s a great way to connect for the holiday!

Attend a Local Cultural Event Instead

Part of the joy of living abroad is to learn about different customs and traditions. This can include harvest festivals, which are common in many parts of the world from Germany to the Philippines. While the tenor of the celebration may be different than what you are used to, chances are that you could have a great time if you leave behind your expectations and go with an open mind. You might also consider concerts, sporting events, or local holiday celebrations and incorporate these into your new Thanksgiving tradition.

Invite New Local Friends Over for Dinner

Chances are you’ve made some friends in your new home. Why not share one of your traditions with them? Many will probably be curious to learn about an American holiday. You can prepare a couple of the dishes you grew up with while encouraging them to bring whatever they’d like to share. The important thing is not the menu, but the sense of community and the laughter.

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Order Ingredients Well Ahead of Time

If you know you’ll be craving traditional Thanksgiving foods such as cranberry sauce, be aware that these may be hard to find locally. Not every country has turkeys, for example. These birds are native to the Americas, after all. Even if you can find them, they might be smaller than you’re used to. Other foods, such as potatoes or green beans, will be easier to find. By planning your menu in advance and ordering ingredients early where possible, you’ll maximize the chances of having a feast you’ll enjoy.

Virtually Attend Your Family’s Thanksgiving Back in the US

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to celebrate with your family even if you are thousands of miles away. No need to look for cheap international flights to share Thanksgiving with them! Simply set up a Zoom or Skype session. Eat your own meal while they eat theirs. Due to the time difference, you might be having eggs while your family has dinner. However, the main thing is that you are enjoying the company of those you love. That’s what really matters.

Have you ever celebrated Thanksgiving abroad? Got any other tips? Let us know in the comments!  

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Going Places

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