10. Loosen the rules. Being far away from family obligations means you can write your own playbook. Always hated Halloween? Skip it: your neighbors won’t notice. Think Thanksgiving dinner is best served at a hotel? Order away. And if you want to spend Christmas catching up on work emails and eating take-out, you can. (Although if you have children, they probably won’t appreciate your Grinch routine.)
The bottom line is that the best holidays happen when you are free to enjoy the moment and create new memories, and being in a new country can actually make that easier. There is something special about spending holidays overseas: a magical element that seems to make things more memorable.
That’s why I can tell you that it was Christmas Eve 2009 in Islamabad, Pakistan when I discovered the most disgruntled elf in the world in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel. Or that on Thanksgiving Day 1996 I made yams with marshmallows for 40 nuns in a convent in rural England and can still picture their amused faces. And I’ll never forget my most recent Fourth of July, drinking ice-cold gin and tonics out of a steel safari mug under the sparkling stars of a pitch-black night in the southern Africa bush for a different kind of fireworks show.