I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Caroline Cunningham

Christmas is meant to be spent with family, and personally I’ve never missed a Christmas. So at the beginning of December 2019, on the other side of the world in a hostel, I debated. Should I catch a flight back?

I was in the Philippines at the time, and by the end of the month it would be about 6 months since I left home alone to travel through parts of Asia. Despite the many adventures, I felt like I still had so much to explore and was reluctant to end the trip. But my money was running out and I felt a pull to go back, it was time. 

Then the idea hit me...I’m going to surprise my family for Christmas! That will be a homecoming memory to savor for a lifetime.

So with all my stacked travel points, I booked a flight back home to arrive just in time on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t wait.

For the rest of the month of December, I traveled the paradise islands of the Philippines, living it up knowing it was my last month before heading back into the Virgina winter. As the holiday got closer, my siblings and parents each texted me how much they would miss me this year. “Yeah it’s going to be weird this year not being home,” I would reply. I savored the suspense.

And I kept up the front until the very end. As someone who posts regularly, I even saved pictures of palm trees to post on my instagram story while sitting on my flights home.


Finally, Christmas Eve, 7pm. After a bus, three flights, many Uber rides, an overnight stay and an 8 hour layover, I made it back into the United States.

What a surreal feeling. Here I was on the other side of a solo backpacking trip that had been a dream of mine for so long, coming home to surprise my family on Christmas Eve. I did it!


That’s a Christmas memory I’ll never forget. 

Watch the homecoming video here!


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My aim is to inspire adventure and empower people with the tools to travel. You can expect articles about solo female travel, budget travel tips, destination guides, and authentic storytelling.

Fairfax, VA

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