One of the reasons I travel is to be awed by the new and unfamiliar – to walk on alien landscapes, get lost in small towns, and meet strangers – who might even become friends. That is also part of why I look forward to Christmas. It’s the time of the year where my everyday surroundings are transformed into something new, something different.
Everything becomes brighter and more colorful – literally, owing to the strings of Christmas lights and decorations everywhere. Christmas carols can be heard on the radio and in live events. Of course, there are the infamous holiday sales and the even more infamous holiday traffic jams.
For better or for worse, Christmas is a time I really feel like a traveler in my own city, and I try to make the most of the experience. Here are three things I highly recommend for traveling this Christmas without leaving town. These are also ideal for the cash-strapped or those who are on a budget and simply want to save money.
1) Take a walk, bike, or drive around. During the Christmas season, I love going around my home city Las Piñas – once a town with a provincial vibe. The place becomes a luminous rainbow, with the Christmas lights adorning the different landmarks and homes. I am particularly keen in seeing the city hall and the street lamps, whose Christmas lights change every year.
The city hall in Las Piñas in silvery white and sapphire blue
This star, among others, lights up the streets in our village
A good rule of thumb when going around your city or town is to look at the landmarks and public squares and buildings – they are most likely the ones with bright holiday decor.
And, why not try walking or biking around your community? You might be pleasantly surprised at the “new look” of your neighbors’ homes. You can even make it your mission to find the brightest and most colorful one. My brother and I certainly compare notes whenever we bike around on Christmas. Biking on Christmas evenings never gets old for me – I even find that I do not have enough time as much as I would like to see all the houses in their shining glory.
At the gate of a basketball court in our community
2) Research Christmas events that tickle your fancy and go! Take a pick from the gazillion Christmas events in your town or city and go! Here in the metropolis in the Philippines there are light and sound shows, Christmas chorale performances, concerts, parties, and more.
One of my favorites is the lights and sound show at the Ayala Triangle in Makati, which I make a point to go to every year (and nope, this is not an advertisement. I just love their show). The lights wrapped and hanging from trees flash and seemingly dance in time to Christmas songs. Every year they cook up something new – last year it was star balloons. Now, it is bright colored globes that rise and fall.
3) Volunteer! It’s one of the best ways to meet new people, just like when traveling. I have volunteered while traveling before, but I admit I have not yet tried it during the Christmas season (no, donating does not count), which is why I have no Christmas volunteering photo to speak of. But indeed, volunteering is a great way to interact with other people – and serve, too. Plus, it’s a perfect way to give love this Christmas!
Keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities like gift giving and outreach programs.
So, why not try these three tips out and travel without leaving town this holiday season? Happy travels and Merry Christmas!