Surviving the holidays away from family

Surviving the holidays away from family

When it comes to travel nursing, one of the biggest fears is being away from family and friends. While it certainly takes some adjustment, you learn to look past that and relish in your adventure. This can become a little easier said than done when it comes to the holidays. You’ll begin to miss things about your family that used to drive you bonkers. It gets easier every year but in the meantime, here are a few things you can do to ease the pain.

Have yourself a virtual little Christmas

You may not be under the same roof as your family this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be together. With today’s video chat options, just about anyone can have a virtual Christmas. If you and a family member both own an iPhone, iPad or other Apple computer, your best option is FaceTime. You could also download the Skype app if you or none of your family owns an Apple product. Both work great and you can get pretty creative with them.

Our first year traveling we opened presents and watched our families open presents just like we were actually there. If you have an Apple TV or a laptop, you could even watch the video on your large screen TV and your family could do the same with ¬†you. Just prepare to be a little emotional, especially if this is your first year traveling. It’s hard to think about your family being together without you. It might be harder to actually see them without you. Once you’re past the emotions you’ll be happy you did it.

It’s a family tradition

You may find leading up to the holidays, your nostalgia and cravings kicking into high gear. If your family is all about tradition and usually eats the same meals, listens to a certain holiday record or station, or plays the same games every year, do your best to keep those traditions. Make the same foods and snacks. Play the same games if you can. Many radio stations stream online through their website or through iHeart Radio. If your grandpa makes homemade noodles every year like mine, now is a great time to learn how to make them. Surrounding yourself in a similar atmosphere as you’re used to could be just the fix you need to get you through.

Forget everything I just said

While the two methods above work for me, they may not work for you. You may find they make you want to be with your family even more. If this is the case, you may need to try a different approach. Instead of video chatting with family, get out and do something to distract yourself. Plan a mini road trip. Volunteer at a shelter. Meet up with other travelers that may be near you. If none of these are possible, start new traditions. Instead of listening to Christmas records, print off your favorite pictures from your year of traveling and start a scrapbook. Instead of your traditional meal, learn a new recipe for an exotic dish.

No matter which method you choose, nothing can entirely heal the pain of being away from family during the holidays. Make sure your expectation is lowered but your hopefulness is raised. Think about the amazing year you had in traveling and all of the exciting places you’ll see next year. Then you’ll remember you’re not crazy and as much as you miss your family, you’re doing something you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. Happy holidays and stay strong.


  • Alex Schriewer

    I can totally relate. I had to laugh when I read “If your grandpa makes homemade noodles every year like mine, now is a great time to learn how to make them”, because the first time my wife and I spent Christmas away from our families, we forgot to ask her grandma about her special recipe. And so we had a major meltdown, because the food was a mess. Now we can laugh about it.

    • Brad Crawford

      Hopefully her grandma was a little more help than mine. When I ask about his recipes I usually get “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” for directions :-)

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