The World Nomads Podcast Episode 6: Christmas Special

What’s it like spending Christmas surrounded by snow when you’re used to being at the beach? plus, the Thirteen Yule Lads, our nomad’s messages for home , and the Australian comic and his Christmas cracker failure.

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Episode 5 – Christmas Special

Having the Christmas holiday during the hottest part of the year makes the annual celebration somewhat different in the Southern hemisphere.

In countries like Australia and New Zealand, we are on summer break, surfing, swimming and going away camping while the rest of the world is cranking up the fire and hitting the slopes for their winter holiday. With the help of travel experts, Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads' Phil Sylvester, this episode explores Yuletide in the Southern Hemisphere VS the Northern Hemisphere.

Hear the travel hacks to help make your Christmas holiday easier.

Places to visit if you are away from home and traveling over the festive break.

And Christmas through the eyes of Egyptian-born Aussie comic Akmal, and the ‘green snot’ that was the backdrop to his family Christmas feast.

What's in the Episode

00.09 - Welcome

01:26 - Travel Quiz: What has this question got to do with Phil’s own trip to South Africa?

02.09 - The Air New Zealand Christmas ad hilariously poking fun at the Kiwi accent.

03:40 -  Kelly the New Zealand blogger living in the UK so she’s experienced Xmas in both hemispheres

“…I feel like I'm kind of in a snow globe. It's that kind of feeling where it's not real, but it is. You just kind of wander around in this amazement of just how beautiful everything really is.”

06:40 - Ask Phil

10:32 - Australian comic Akmal

“Jesus doesn't really get a mention in the Aussie Christmas. Not really. It's like having a birthday for someone and they're not invited. You know? "We're going to celebrate you but you're just a bit of a downer. If you could not show up that would be great." - Akmal

18:48 - Messages for home from our nomads.

20:25 - Travel hacks with Alexandra Tselios 

25:34 - What do Sausage Swiper and Door Sniffer have to do with Christmas?

29:45 - Great tips for New year’s resolutions to guarantee travel in 2018

33:50 - Travel News

36:00 - Quiz answer

36:35 - What's next in Episode 7?

Who's on the Show?

Kelly is a blogger. She ‘babbles about adventures and life’. Originally from New Zealand, Kelly now lives in the UK and shares the differences between a hot and cold Christmas.

Akmal, one of Australia's most respected, successful and accomplished comics. Egyptian born, Akmal looks at Xmas when he was young in that country, to coming to Australia and now Christmas as an adult.

Alexandra Tselios is the founder of a leading opinion site in Australia and the US called The Big Smoke and she shares some cool travel hacks.

Ellen Hall, World Nomad’s Editorial Producer North America, with New Year's resolutions designed to encourage traveling in 2018.

Dave O’Malley Business Development Manager Europe for World Nomads and Christina Tunnah regional Manager The Americas, discuss places to visit if you are away from home for Christmas.

Terry Gunnell from the Folkloristics Department at the University of Iceland on Iceland’s 13 Santa Clauses.

Resources & Links

If you liked the sound of Molokhia, the traditional soup served at Akmal’s family Christmas described by the comic as ‘green snot’ – you’ll find it here. It’s widely eaten in the Middle East and Asia and despite Akmal’s description, is incredibly nutritious.

Air New Zealand wish you a “Mirry” Christmas as they poke fun at the Kiwi accent in this classic Christmas ad.

Scholarships Newsletter: Sign up for scholarships news and see what opportunities are live here.

Follow World Nomads on Instagram for the latest stories, and #WorldNomads for your chance to be featured.

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Want to Talk to us?

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About World Nomads & The Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

Speaker 1: The World Nomads podcast. It's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous, independent traveler.

Kim: Hi, there. Wherever you're listening in the world and Merry Christmas. Great that you've tuned into our podcast. Delivered by World Nomads, the travel lifestyle and insurance brand covering more than half a million travelers. I'm Kim.

Phil: I'm Phil. Merry Christmas. Having the Christmas holiday during the hottest part of the year makes the annual celebration somewhat different in the Southern hemisphere in countries [00:00:30] like Australia, New Zealand. We're on summer breaks. Surfing and swimming and going away camping while the rest of the world is cranking up the fire, hitting the slopes for their winter holiday.

Kim: Yeah. We're actually sitting in here in t-shirt and shorts with the air conditioning on. What we want to explore in our Christmas special is just that: hot versus cold. Or Southern Hemisphere versus Northern Hemisphere. We'll have one of Australia's most respected, successful and accomplished comics here in the studio, [Akmal 00:00:58]. He's Egyptian born and [00:01:00] he will look at Christmas when he was young in that country to coming to Australia and now Christmas as an adult.

Alexandra Tselios is the co-founder of a leading opinion site in Australia and the US. It's called the Big Smoke. She shares some cool travel hacks. Phil catches up with a couple of mates on things to do if you're traveling and away from home over Christmas. We will hear from our World Nomads with their messages for home. But we always kick off a show with your quiz question.

Phil: All right. It's a fairly simple one this time. [00:01:30] How many birds are there in the song 12 Days of Christmas?

Kim: On the twelfth day of Christmas. That's the one?

Phil: All right. So, we know there's a partridge in a pear tree. But how many birds in total? The answer at the end of the show.

Kim: Phil, do you remember in our episode about Iceland we featured the world’s hardest karaoke song? Which a travel company had come up with to help travelers with their notoriously difficult language. It was all tongue and cheek of course, wasn't it?

Phil: Totally. It was great though.

Kim: The Kiwi's have done something similar. It's Air New Zealand and they've released their [00:02:00] Christmas video, which lovingly pokes fun at the Kiwi accent and those who believe it or not struggle to understand it.

Santa: Hello, Santa speaking.

Adam: Hi Santa. It's Adam.

Santa: Hello, Adam. What would you like for Christmas?

Adam: I want a new bed?

Santa: Just to get this clear. You'd like a new beard? [00:02:30] Okay Adam. Remember to be nice. A new beard for Adam. Santa speaking. A puggy bank. Right, Tom. A puggy bank for Tom from [inaudible 00:02:45]. Santa speaking. Hello, Bin. A biscuit ball for Bin. A what sort of plane? An ear plane for Wendy. [00:03:00] A book of magic trucks. Sounds like a good read. A bug screen TV.

Speaker 6: All right. What in the father Christmas is going on here? Kids want bikes and tents and fidget spinners. Not airplanes. [inaudible 00:03:23].

Santa: Oh. It's happened again.

Kim: Isn't that just a classic?

Phil: It's divine. That's [00:03:30] divine.

Kim: We'll have a link to the video in our show notes. If you wanted to revisit the one featured in the Iceland podcast then you have to listen to that of course. It's a good one. Now speaking of New Zealanders. Kelly is a Kiwi blogger living in the UK. She's experienced Christmas in both hemispheres. We put in a call to Kelly to hear her experience with hot and cold Christmas at a time when the UK has already had a dumping of snow.

Kelly: I feel like I'm kind of in a snow globe. It's that kind of feeling where it's not real, [00:04:00] but it is. You just kind of wander around in this amazement of just how beautiful everything really is. It's been such a contrast to me living in Australia. I've been brought up with Santa wearing board shorts and it’s really very different when you've got a very traditional Santa. There are Christmas markets, department stores with all their beautiful displays on. It's so different. The contrasts are amazing to see here.

Kim: But I think that makes for a prettier Christmas.

Kelly: It is prettier. I mean, you see all those movies. You grow up with all the television, you know? The TV movies [00:04:30] the whole channel movies which are all weird. We got all these snow globes. We got all the snow. Everybody falls in love. Romantic and everything else. But it's beautiful to see it and to experience it. But I think nothing beats the whole thing of waking up on Christmas morning as a kid and getting a skateboard or a bike. Going outside to play. You can't do that in the Northern Hemisphere. I have a lot of friends and work colleagues that have spent a Christmas down in Southern Hemisphere and they come back going, "That's the weirdest thing ever." I'm like, "Really?" They're like, "You can [00:05:00] go and go to the beach and they don't have any clothes." I'm like, "Yeah. That's summer."

Kim: Now that's summer and that's Christmas in Australia. But when I experienced my first Christmas in the UK. I couldn't help but think how magical it was.

Kelly: It is quite magical. I mean going to the Christmas market, for me, that is what makes Christmas to special. It's not very commercial. It's all about Christmas decorations and mulled wine. If you got to Germany or Austria. They're all out conversing having a mulled wine and then popping off for a meal. But while in the UK it's very different. It's a bit more commercial. You see the commercialism between Australia and New Zealand and the UK very much. But in Europe it's not so commercial. It's not so commercially focused. It's more about the experience of the day and the lead up to it.

Kim: Speaking of the day. Kelly, how are you going to spend it?

Kelly: I'll be spending Christmas making beef wellington. Probably sitting by the fire trying to keep warm. The food is so different over here as well, compared to what you eat in New Zealand and [00:06:00] Australia. We just chuck prawns on the BBQ and steak or whatever else you want to chuck on. Well, over here it's all about pastries and lots of creams and brandied creams. It's sort of very different. We're just going to sit together and just enjoy. Keep warm in front of a toasty fire.

Kim: Take you back at all, Phil? Of course, you were born in the UK.

Phil: Yes. I was there until I was about nine or 10 years old. Yes, and I did still fondly remember being on the back of the tractor truck and singing [00:06:30] carols in the snow.

Kim: Yeah. Beautiful.

Phil: Falling through the ice and getting really wet …

Kim: Merry Christmas, Kelly. Still to come, one of Australia's most respected, successful, and accomplished comics Akmal. But now-

Speaker 1: And now, ask Phil.

Phil: Having looked through our Ask a Nomad service. Absolutely the most asked question for Christmas was, where's a good place for a traveler to spend Christmas in name-your-city-of-choice there? I spent every Christmas for the past 20 years with my family here in Australia. [00:07:00] I don't feel qualified to answer. Let's ask our wonderful team from World Nomads. Christina Tunnah who's the manager of the Americas. We've also got Dave O'Malley who's a business development manager in the UK.

Christina Tunna: Hello, Phil.

Phil: Merry Christmas. Happy holidays.

Dave O'Malley: Happy Holidays. Hi, Phil.

Phil: Christina, can I go over to you first? Just a couple of weeks ago you were over in New York. What's your list of things for nomads to do if they're in New York at Christmas time?

Christina Tunna: [00:07:30] Well, a couple of classics which are probably evergreen. But walking Central Park. The Highline which is a real gem in Manhattan's crown. The old converted railway line that sits on the East Side along the Chelsea area and further North is fantastic. Great overviews and insights into Manhattan below. The 9/11 Memorial, albeit a very sad and somber reason to go, it is actually quite [00:08:00] uplifting, especially at Christmas. I think there are something particularly wonderful exhibit things going on there. Then cheap and cheerful, but as magical is the window shopping along Fifth Avenue.

Phil: Does New York kind of shut down over Christmas or can you still go somewhere and get a feed or get a drink?

Christina Tunna: God New York never, ever sleeps. It's probably as magical to go out on Christmas Day. If there's snow on the ground you can possibly even ski to your destination. In Manhattan sometimes the snow actually [00:08:30] sticks. But then another area that I discovered when I was on this recent trip was a placed called Industry City. It's in Brooklyn. It really is an area around Brooklyn that very few people know about or go to. It's really just a place where ... showcases the fact that Manhattan in New York City is experiencing a bit of a boom in small-scale manufacturing.

A lot of this manufacturing is very sustainable. You've got like sustainable coffee brewing and machinery. [00:09:00] You've got raw honey that comes from the rooftops of New York from different boroughs. They collect it and produce it. You've got lamps made out of mycelium that you can grow yourself. Handmade chocolates. It's really a magical, magical place Industry City. I highly recommend any nomad who wants to get to know the city in its truest form to check this out.

Phil: Dave, what about over in the UK? London must be jumping at Christmas as well.

Dave O'Malley: Oh yeah. Yeah. [00:09:30] We're very fortunate because we're a very historic country. Stepping into London is like stepping into a Charles Dickens novel, in Christmas time anyway. It's full of the Christmas lights everywhere. It is great places to go shopping in Christmas markets. If you go over to the Trafalgar Square, you'll see the Christmas tree that was donated to us by Norway for our war efforts. Really popular. [00:10:00] Going back to that Charles Dickens thing, the Christmas Carol. You've got to go to the West End and catch a musical. We're really fortunate just like obviously you've got Broadway in the States. But we have the West End and you can go and see amazing musicians and performers.

Phil: Hey! Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. We'll talk again in the New Year.

Christina Tunna: Lovely. Thanks a lot Phil.

Dave O'Malley: Thanks.

Christina Tunna: Happy Hols.

Dave O'Malley: Happy Holidays, guys.

Kim: For a Christmas special you have to have a special guest. We're very lucky to have [00:10:30] in the World Nomad studio here in Sydney Australia one of our most famous and funniest comedians. You got to be funny if you're a comedian, Akmal.

Akmal: Yes. You've got to be funny. I mean, well no necessarily. I've seen a few that they're not that funny, but they still manage to get a career out of it. It's fantastic. I think I'm one of them.

Kim: Yeah.

Akmal: I'm one of those people.

Kim: You've made a really successful career out of comedy.

Akmal: Yeah. It's my only skill. I always say if I didn't have comedy I'd probably be in prison right now.

Kim: I'm pretty good at put-downs. I says [00:11:00] that's my greatest skill.

Akmal: Well, it's a good start.

Kim: It's a good start. We're exploring in this podcast, because it's Christmas and it's a global episode, the difference between Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere and Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere.

Akmal: Yeah. For us Christmas was always a religious thing. It sounds crazy-

Phil: Funny that, yeah.

Akmal: We actually celebrate the birth of Jesus in a crazy way. But it's very different. We don't have the gifts. [00:11:30] We don't have Santa. We still ... I mean people who come and immigrate to Australia. They still carry on the same traditions. When we lived in Punchbowl back in the 1970's. Back then anyway it was a high crime area-

Kim: And you came from Egypt.

Akmal: We came from Egypt. That's right. My parents to give us a better life moved us from Egypt to Punchbowl. It wasn't that much of an improvement. No, I'm kidding Punchbowl people. But back then anyway it was a lot of gangs and stuff. [00:12:00] If anyone came down our chimney he was probably there to rob us. We actually got robbed in our first two years of living in Australia. We didn't have much, but they robbed us.

Kim: Really?

Akmal: Yeah. That's true. But Christmas for us, I come from a very religious family, Coptic Orthodox. What they do Christmas is they fast. They go vegan for like 40 days. They go to church Christmas Eve. [00:12:30] Around midnight ... I mean, the mass goes well beyond midnight. But as soon as midnight hits everyone just leaves. Usually the women stay behind and cook. It's like every type of dead animal is just served to make up for the 40 days of-

Kim: Vegetables.

Akmal: Vegetables. That's right. The whole family gathers and they yell. It's night time. It's a different time too. It's not Christmas. It's on the 7th of January. It's [00:13:00] a different calendar.

Kim: Wow.

Akmal: Yeah. They stay up until 3:00AM yelling. Because Egyptians talk really loudly. The neighbors would call the police. They'd think we're fighting. We'd say, "We're not fighting. We're Egyptian. That's how we communicate." So all the uncles and aunties and cousins would come to someone’s house. A lot of times it was our house. It was always great fun. But it was very different coming to Australia. Seeing ... [00:13:30] you know, Jesus doesn't really get a mention in the Aussie Christmas. Not really. It's like having a birthday for someone and they're not invited. You know? "We're going to celebrate you but you're just a bit of a downer. If you could not show up that would be great."

It always amazes me how society is so removed from the idea of actually Christ's birth. Something makes me laugh. This year, for example, I'm sure Jesus would be thrilled to know that his birthday is [00:14:00] being celebrated with a maya mattress sale. "Come celebrate Christmas with a Myer Mattress sale! Christmas sale!" They always have these Christmas sales like, you know? You don't see the connection at all.

Kim: No. Exactly.

Akmal: But my mother would normally stay home. She was very religious but she also knew that she had to ... It's just tradition. She would cook. They overdo it, you know? There's that generosity of the Middle Eastern people. [00:14:30] If you invite people that you have to have an abundance. You have to overdo it. There are all these foods that you may not be familiar with. We had a thing at Christmas we drink [foreign language 00:14:42]. Because Christmas in Egypt is winter. It's cold, right? But the tradition doesn't change. We had this thing called Molokhia which is ... As kids, we used to hate it because it was green and looked like snot. It had this like runny thing. It looked like [00:15:00] snot and it smelled bad. Then that put you off. It was good for you. Apparently, it was good for you. But Molokhia was one. I've never been a big meat eater myself. But the family really indulged. For Jesus. They did it for Jesus.

Kim: For Jesus. They did do it for Jesus. Because you said your family was religious.

Akmal: Well, I don't know. I think there's more focus on the religion. But I don't know if they're actually anymore religious. [00:15:30] As I said, as soon as midnight hits ... because midnight the fast is broken-

Phil: That's it. They go eat.

Akmal: Yeah. The priest would say, "Please. Just wait until the mass is finished. Please. I know you're hungry." But no one would listen. As soon as the stroke of midnight [inaudible 00:15:45] they're all out. Like, "Come on. Let's beat the traffic."

Phil: What about ... I mean, a very big part of the Australian Christmas tradition is getting down to the beach and enjoying the outdoors. A bit far from Punchbowl. When did you first ... [00:16:00] Do you ever hit the beach for Christmas?

Akmal: Well, no we never did. We used to ... I mean, Australia Day was probably a bigger gathering for the beach. We'd go to the beach. But because Christmas was so close to our Christmas we'd still be fasting. We'd have no BBQ's. We'd have no big gatherings and whatever. It was different. We didn't have the present thing. That's the thing when you're a kid. You just felt you missed out because ... My parents would [00:16:30] say, "We don't do that. We don't do the presents things." What are you getting for Christmas? Nothing. [foreign language 00:16:36]. A big ball of [foreign language 00:16:38]

Kim: When did you make the transition from the Northern Hemisphere kind of Christmas feel to Australian?

Akmal: I married an Anglo girl. An Aussie as they used to say. No longer they say. She's from Queanbeyan. Her parents are very traditional. We go over in [00:17:00] Queanbeyan to celebrate Christmas. The first time actually, the whole cracker thing, you know? Where they did that. What do you call that?

Phil: Crackers. Christmas crackers. [crosstalk 00:17:10]

Akmal: The Christmas cracker. That's right. Have a little small explosion for Jesus. The first time we met with her family and they did the whole ... it was really much more polite. Everyone was, "Could you pass the butter, please? Yes, thank you." You know? In our family, people would just throw the butter at you if you asked them. " [00:17:30] Get it yourself you lazy bastard!" But they were very polite. Then they had the cracker thing and it was very appropriate. At the appropriate time the cracker thing and they pull. For me, as you can see, I'm completely bald. The first time with my wife's family as I pulled the cracker there's a gift. I'm sure you know there's a little gift. My gift was a comb. I thought-

Kim: They're having a crack.

Akmal: They're having a crack. I [00:18:00] thought God was teasing me. [crosstalk 00:18:02] It was my favorite. Yeah.

Kim: How are you going to spend Christmas this year?

Akmal: Well, you know, probably pulling crackers and getting a comb again. It's just the same every year. Jesus never gets a mention.

Kim: No exactly.

Akmal: Not one mention.

Kim: Well, Merry Christmas Akmal.

Akmal: Thank you!

Kim: Thank you so much for coming into the studio.

Akmal: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Phil: If we'd known, we would've got some glasses of ... What was it called?

Akmal: Molokhia

Phil: Molokhia

Akmal: No, no. It's a bowl. Bowl.

Phil: We should get some of that. A big bowl of it.

Akmal: A bowl of Molokhia

Phil: We'll [00:18:30] get some Molokhia for you next time.

Akmal: Yes.

Kim: We'll put a picture of that green snot on our show notes.

Akmal: That's right. Every time hay fever season comes up I'm reminded of [foreign language 00:18:39].

Kim: Well, thank you again. Really great to meet you.

Akmal: Thank you.

Kim: Yes, green snot doesn't sound good, does it? Let's check in with our Nomads for their messages home for Chrissy.

Speaker 11: I wish you like a Merry Christmas. Back home at the moment, I think it's snowing and everyone's sinking deep into snow and building snowman. I [00:19:00] miss you all. Would be good to be close to you. [foreign language 00:19:04]

Speaker 12: It's kind of strange being over here because it's so hot. In Wales, it'd be very cold at the moment with probably a chance of snow and probably be sat around the fire. Yeah. It's very, very hot here. Feels more Christmasy at home but I am glad to be in the heat because at home I'd probably be in two jumpers, two pairs of trousers, a hat and gloves at the moment. So yeah, it's nice being here.

Speaker 13: I would like to give my [00:19:30] wishes to all of my family back in Greece and all of my friends. I know a lot of friends are going to get back for the holidays. It's going to be really cold back in Greece. But we're sending them the heat from Sydney and our love. Enjoy the holidays.

Speaker 14: Happy holidays!

Speaker 15: Happy Christmas to everyone at home.

Speaker 16: Make sure you watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation on Christmas Day. I mean what else can you do? That's the definition [00:20:00] of Christmas in the subcontinent.

Speaker 17: [foreign language 00:20:02] means I love you. Merry Christmas! Yeah. [foreign language 00:20:06] which is Happy New Year during February for Chinese New Year.

Speaker 18: It's my second time spending my Christmas without my family. Yeah. I miss a lot them. Well, I know they pray for me and everything will be fine with me and my family.

Kim: Alexandra Tselios is the founder of a leading opinion site here in Australia and in the US. It's called The Big Smoke. [00:20:30] She's heard most days on radio around Australia and we've grabbed her for the World Nomads podcast to chat Christmas travel hacks. Hi, Alex.

Alex Tselios: Hello. How are you?

Kim: We are both well. Now you have admitted to me you are super, super highly strung at this time of the year. Why is that?

Alex Tselios: Well, at times all year round that most people relax at Christmas. Not me. I tend to kind of want things done a certain way at Christmas, especially when it comes to decorations. I never do red-

Phil: Why? What? But [00:21:00] it's Christmas!

Kim: Yeah!

Alex Tselios: Don't care. I'm all about white, silver. Those neutral colors. Everybody's been talking about how the White House is creepy at Christmas this year. Melania Trump unveiled all the decorations recently and they were all white and silver and a bit creepy. Everyone's saying how miserable she looks. I'm like, who cares if she's miserable. The house looks fantastic! I love it. It's totally my style.

Kim: Well, we are a global travel podcast. The Big Smoke has some Christmas [00:21:30] travel hack that you need to know. If you're traveling over the holidays, you've already said, that you're not going anywhere. But tips for saving money, Alex?

Alex Tselios: Well, you know when it comes to saving money. It has a lot to do with what you're going to take away with you. For example, a lot of women, when they're going traveling, they're not going to want to take their full bottles of foundations or their creams. Yeah. One of the things that they consider doing is going and buying those cheap plastic contact eye lens cases.

Phil: Yeah. I know the ones.

Alex Tselios: They fill each pod with a foundation [00:22:00] or a cream.

Kim: Are these the ones that you put your pills in? If you've got a Monday to Friday commute?

Alex Tselios: No, no.

Kim: No?

Alex Tselios: I have something for that. This is for the eye contact lenses. This is where you put your contact lens in.

Kim: Oh! Okay.

Alex Tselios: Like a dollar from a chemist or whatever it might be. But when it comes to the pillbox, Monday to Sunday boxes. You can actually use that to separate your earring and necklaces so that you're not getting it all tangled in your bag.

Kim: That is a good tip.

Phil: [00:22:30] I must remember that with my earrings.

Kim: Phil. He wears a lot of bling, Alex.

Alex Tselios: When it comes to traveling around the world a lot of people don't actually think about this. But it's really important to call your credit card or debit card company and let them know that you're going on vacation. Because often what happens is people don't think of this. Then they go overseas and they're not authorized for international purchases.

Phil: Happened to me once when I was traveling on a business trip with a film crew. [00:23:00] Brand new issued American Express card. Our first stop was Dubai. Yeah, no. Couldn't use it for three days.

Kim: You couldn't use it.

Phil: No. Yeah.

Kim: You'd come unstuck if you had no access to money. That's a really good tip.

Alex Tselios: It helps you be a better traveler and be cashed up. One of the other things that I thought was really interesting in terms of if you're going on a road trip for example. You know those shower caddies that you have in the shower that hold your soap and your hair conditioner. Things like that.

Kim: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely.

Alex Tselios: You [00:23:30] can use it as a tray for your burgers, your chips, your drinks. You can pass it around the car without anybody spilling anything. [crosstalk 00:23:36] One dollar hack.

Kim: That's great tip. We like a road trip so I'm going to consider that one. Absolutely.

Alex Tselios: I hate road trips. I hate burgers. Also, when it comes to going to the airport. This is my favorite hack. It's totally naughty and now everybody's going to do it. But you should put fragile stickers on everything of yours.

Kim: If something breaks you can say, " [00:24:00] Hey, I had a sticker that said it's fragile?" Or does it stop them just throwing the bags like you seem them do?

Alex Tselios: It stops them from throwing it around.

Phil: The other benefit you get from that is your bad ... they hold it to last, which means it's first off.

Kim: Oh, guys! Nice.

Phil: First thing out on the carousel and you're out of there.

Kim: You two can travel the world together. Now this kind of DIY feel that you've got going on too with the road trip stuff. DIY pillows?

Alex Tselios: DIY pillows. A lot of people actually make pillows. They just actually literally [00:24:30] get all of the jumpers and the stuff from their suitcase and fill it into a pillowcase. Instead of actually having to carry stuff like that around. You can just DIY and use your clothes. It ends up doubling up on your space.

Kim: Well, some great travel hacks there. Alex also suggests, Phil, making copies of your passport and emailing yourself in case your passport gets lost or stolen.

Phil: That's it. Put it in a Dropbox or on Google Documents or something. That's a good spot.

Kim: Do you know what we haven't touched on yet?

Phil: No, what?

Kim: Santa. It's [00:25:00] Christmas podcast. We haven't talked about Santa.

Phil: Right. Saint Nick.

Kim: Well, you can call him that. I just call him Santa.

Phil: Right. Santa.

Kim: The big fella! In an earlier podcast on Iceland, I mention that again. We talked about their folklore and learned they have 13 Santas. What better country to revisit to hear some of the beliefs, legends, the stories, and the traditions. Terry is the head of the Folkloristic Department of the University of Iceland. He's going to introduce us [00:25:30] into the way Icelanders have viewed the festive period over the last thousand years.

Terry: It's always been, certainly back in Viking times before the acceptance of Christianity, then this was always a key period of festivity. Because it's the winter solstice in large parts of Scandinavia, especially Iceland. We're looking out of the window into darkness now. It's a period of long, dark days. Then people are sort of looking [00:26:00] forward to the return of the sun and the days getting longer again. In the Nordic world then there were four really main festivals. One was the middle of the winter. The other one was the middle of summer. Then at the beginning of winter, and the beginning of summer. The year was divided into two seasons. This is the middle of the dark season. That goes back certainly into pre-Christian times. This is partly why Christianity decided to move, decided that the birth of Jesus [00:26:30] should be on this particular period. Nobody knows exactly when it was.

Kim: Tell us about the 13 Santa's Iceland has.

Terry: These are associated with like the 12 Days of Christmas that you get afterward. But what happened is you used to have two calendars. There was the Julian Calendar which was too short for the year. Gradually as time went on the middle of winter got further and further away from actually the middle of [00:27:00] winter in terms of dates. If you understand what I'm talking about. That meant that the mid-winter had actually become to be about 13th of December by about 1400, 1500. You still would hear about 13th of December being the longest day of the year. Then they institute the Gregorian Calendar, which has leap years and things of this kind. To actually make sure that the calendar year is in contact with the natural year.

That [00:27:30] actually meant cutting roughly 12 to 13 days off the year. That results in ideas of the old Christmas and new Christmas which we still get remains of in [Shetland 00:27:44] and elsewhere. Where people just distrusted governments messing around with their year. They've given us actually 12 days before Christmas and 12 days afterward when it comes down to it. What we have here essentially 12 different figures coming down from the mountains one by [00:28:00] one, was representing these 12 days. Then after Christmas, they head back one by one. When they've all gone back then you've reached the 12th day of Christmas, 12th night. That's the end of Christmas.

Kim: Do they have names?

Terry: Yeah. They've all got names. Yeah. Most names are associated with taking food from houses, rather than actually giving anything. Sausage swiper for example. Meathook. Then pot licker and bowl licker and spoon licker. Things [00:28:30] like this. A sort of early version of dishwasher when it comes down to it. Candle beggar for example. They're all people that take things. Window peeper, door sniffer. In other parts of Iceland, you have even nastier names like lung splatter and manure licker. Which is not terribly appetizing names. But their names suggest to say that they take rather than give.

Kim: What's a typical Icelandic Christmas?

Terry: Basically [00:29:00] Christmas here for Icelanders begins really in a sense on the 23rd of December. That's when the shops are open very late until about 11:00 o'clock. Some people then will eat a [inaudible 00:29:16] which has been [inaudible 00:29:17] ferment and smells rather disgusting. Then comes Christmas Eve itself. That's the main Christmas day here. That's when the whole family gets together. The sort of core family gets together for a meal [00:29:30] at about 6:00 o'clock in the evening. That will trend to be traditional either lamb but especially pork and sometimes even [inaudible 00:29:39] which has been hunted. They become the Christmas meal and that's when Christmas presents are given out afterward.

Phil: Thanks, Terry.

Kim: Now we've covered Christmas. But what about resolutions?

Phil: Christmas time and New Year. What else do you do at New Year, Kim? You make a New Year’s Resolution, right? Do you make them?

Kim: No, because in the past I've made them and I never keep them.

Phil: [00:30:00] Okay. Well, here's some that you might be able to keep. Ellen Hall who works in our San Francisco office is writing about New Year’s travel resolutions. A travel-ution. Ellen! A travel resolution-

Ellen Hall: Hello!

Phil: What a great idea!

Ellen Hall: I think so. I think any reason to weave travel into your plans for the year is great.

Phil: Is that like ... I have kind of made this decision. Whether it's a resolution or not. That we will go to Panama next year. Is that the kind of stuff you're talking [00:30:30] about?

Ellen Hall: Well, I think that's one thing. I mean they're definitely can resolve to finally go on that dream trip or make it happen. But there's also more sort of basic resolutions that I think can incorporate travel. Those are the ones that I was mostly writing about. The first one is one that probably everybody makes. I'm going to make it again. I resolved to get in shape. One way to do that, maybe you want to set yourself a big goal. [00:31:00] Maybe it's a trek in Patagonia or you're going to go biking through Vietnam or something and you don't want to show up not fit enough to do your journey. You want to be training a little bit. That's just a good way to kind of motivate yourself to get in shape.

Phil: Can I just say by the way I am in shape, it's just the shapes round.

Ellen Hall: That's true. There are many kind of shapes. Yes, you're right.

Kim: Okay. What about improving your work-life balance? That's a big one in 2017/2018.

Ellen Hall: [00:31:30] Absolutely. I mean we all want to work hard and we're trying to find a way to incorporate other kinds of things into our lives. One way that a lot of people are doing it, and increasing number of people are doing it, is take a sabbatical. Really take several months off of work. People think, "I can't do that. My boss will never let me. [inaudible 00:31:51] my career." But in fact you really can go and it's not going to necessarily have any sort of negative effect on your career. [00:32:00] In fact, it can actually have beneficial effects.

Kim: While you're doing that you could learn a new skill for example.

Ellen Hall: Well that's true. I mean that's another great reason to go travel. I mean let's say you want to learn how to cook or learn a language. You can do that at home of course, but maybe you want to go and learn how to cook in Italy. Or you want to learn Spanish. Go to South America for a couple of months and immerse yourself. That's the way to learn a new language [00:32:30] of sure, is to live it.

Kim: Giving back too. That's another one, Ellen.

Ellen Hall: Well, I think, true. I don't know. This has been a rough year for a lot of folks. I think that things are either if you're not going through something, you've seen in the world. We have devastating hurricanes and things like that. People do have the instinct, the desire, to give back. There are a lot of ways to do that. I think through travel.

Phil: Hey, [00:33:00] what's on your travel-ution for 2018? Where's on your list, mate? Where are you going?

Ellen Hall: Oh gosh. Well, [inaudible 00:33:09] to be too much of a plug. But I just finished working on our Iceland guide. Our insider's guide to Iceland. Boy, I have a very long checklist of places I need to go there.

Phil: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. It just looks fantastic, doesn't it?

Ellen Hall: Well, you did that podcast about it. Yeah. You learn all kinds of stuff. Also now we have these great [00:33:30] contributors to this guide. These folks that are locals that are there. Now I'm going to go bother them. I'm going to go show up.

Phil: Warning to anyone who wants to contribute to World Nomads. We come and sleep on your couch after.

Ellen Hall: Yeah. Yeah.

Kim: Well, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Good luck with your travel-ution.

Ellen Hall: You as well. Thank you.

Kim: Okay. Down here in Australia the bees are getting warming, Phil. Let's wrap this episode up with your travel news.

Phil: An Instagram account called Traveling Butts has been [00:34:00] shut down after offending locals in Thailand. The account started a trend that became very popular for awhile. Taking shots of famous sights while exposing your bum to the camera…

Kim: That's awesome.

Phil: The hashtag 'cheekyexploit' still trends quite highly. You wouldn't know about it. But now the original account has been closed after the founders took shots of two Thai temples while exposing their behinds. Understandably the locals were not impressed. These guys have actually just spent two weeks in jail, but they've only just [00:34:30] been released so they can go-

Kim: Seriously!

Phil: Yeah. Yeah. They're lucky not to spend much longer. We can say that. Very silly of them and very disrespectful. Don't do it. Now they’ve added some science to the question of which line at the airport security is the fastest?

Kim: I always pick the wrong one.

Phil: He says people tend to turn in the direction of their dominant hand. Because most people are right-handed, that means the queue on the right is the busiest one. For a faster check-in pick the queue on the left.

Kim: That is fantastic.

Phil: Can [00:35:00] I say congratulations to the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda for playing the long game. Over a year ago during a visit from Prince Harry. He invited the Prince and his then-girlfriend to honeymoon on the island when they marry. That is playing the long game. I'm not sure-

Kim: Absolutely.

Phil: The royal wedding announcement came at the end of November. Who knows? Perhaps the couple will take them up on the offer. Finally accommodation service Airbnb is allowing split bills for group bookings. Hooray! No more [00:35:30] being stiffed with the entire bill by your mates and then having to case them for the payment. Each member of a group can now pay their share directly to Airbnb.

Kim: Yeah. You know what? I think that makes so much sense. I don't get it at restaurants why they say, "One bill." It's not that hard.

Phil: How hard is it? Get a calculator.

Kim: Yeah, we'll work it out how much we pay. You just have to take our bits. It's not that hard. Thanks for that.

Well, that wraps up our Christmas special with just a couple of things left to do. Firstly, [00:36:00] the answer to your quiz question.

Phil: How many birds are there in the song 12 Days of Christmas? The answer is 23 in total of six types. We've got seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves, and of course the old partridge stuck up in the pear tree.

Kim: That makes 23 in total.

Phil: 23 in total. There you go.

Kim: All right. Well, Phil, you can't wrap up an Australian Christmas-

Phil: Oh no.

Kim: Podcast without a …

Phil: [00:36:30] Can of VB. There you go-

Kim: Cans of VB. You got to!

Phil: All right. Here we go.

Kim: There you go.

Phil: That was a good one.

Kim: Cheers!

Phil: Cheers.

Kim: Merry Christmas.

Phil: Merry Christmas.

Kim: Now what happens next time?

Phil: Next time we'll be exploring the land of the long white cloud. Our new neighbors here, New Zealand.

Kim: Make sure you check us out on YouTube ... Not YouTube. I've had one sip. [crosstalk 00:36:52] iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher [Rad 00:36:55]. Cheers, subscribe and get in touch at Podcast.com.au. Merry Christmas.

Phil: [00:37:00] Cheers.

Speaker 1: The World Nomads podcast. Explore your boundaries.

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