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The Best Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving Overseas

Here are a few ways to give thanks for your travels in the spirit of the Pilgrims—who likely had a tougher journey than you.

Living or traveling abroad during the holiday season is definitely something to be thankful for, but it’s easy to get homesick on one of the most family-oriented American holidays—Thanksgiving. It can be hard to have a Turkey Day celebration overseas, but if you’re willing to do your research and compromise on a few minor details, it’s far from impossible.

Here are a few ways to give thanks for your travels in the spirit of the Pilgrims—who likely had a tougher journey than you.

Go Out

A hands-off Thanksgiving feast is a largely stress-free way to get your cranberry and stuffing fix, but your ability to find such a meal will depend on where you are. Cities with large ex-pat populations like London and Sydney are more likely to have American restaurants with Thanksgiving meal options, like Balthazar in London or Old Liberty Diner in Sydney.

RELATED: Our Favorite Vegetarian Restaurants Around the World

If you’re in a city with fewer Westerners, you may be able to find potluck events via ex-pat groups. is a great resource for finding transplants in your area who share similar interests and might be celebrating.

Go All Out

Ever heard of Friendsgiving? It’s Thanksgiving’s more-fun sibling. Your new friends likely have fewer bad jokes than those few out-of-touch relatives who always manage to make everyone uncomfortable (we all have them), so thank them with a home-cooked meal.

This can be very tricky. Turkeys are only native to North America, and finding the whole birds in a grocery store before Christmas can be virtually impossible outside of the U.S. and Canada. Be sure to plan in advance if you’re set on finding one, and know that ordering your turkey online may be the only solution. If you’re willing to tweak some of your dinner’s details, however, you can replace the hard-to-find dishes with some local flair. Chicken or duck could be a welcome change, and a starchy side of delicious dumplings rather than mashed potatoes never hurt anyone.

Catch a Game

Thanksgiving is also all about football. But who says it has to be American football? Soccer games are a great high-energy environment to mark the occasion with friends. While select NFL teams do play abroad in London each fall, the games are finished by mid-November.

If you’re looking for something more American than soccer, professional basketball is popular in most of the world now. From Madrid (Euroleague) to Melbourne (National Basketball League), there are games all over the world this time of year.

RELATED: How to Totally Fail at Blending in Abroad

Head Home

Go home—or someplace that feels like it, anyway. Heading to an American stronghold while you’re supposed to be learning about a new culture is usually a no-no. But in the name of Thanksgiving, you can give yourself a pass. (Just not for McDonald’s. Never for McDonald’s.)

North American hotel chains like Hilton, Four Seasons, and Marriott often host Thanksgiving dinner for guests. Just because you’re not staying there doesn’t mean you can’t stop by to gorge on pumpkin pie.

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Associate Editor Shannon McMahon prefers Thanksgiving to Christmas and is always planning her next trip. Follow her adventures on Twitter @shanmcmahon_.


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By Shannon McMahon

Editor Shannon McMahon is always planning her next trip and often writing in her travel journal. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_ and on Instagram @shanmcmahon.

Shannon joined SmarterTravel in 2015. A former news reporter, she's lived in the south of Spain, spotted elephants in Sri Lanka, gone spelunking in the Caribbean, hiked Jordan's Petra Basin, interviewed Sao Paulo's Michelin-Star chefs, and explored China via bullet train. Travel trends, news oddities, and her visits to up-and-coming destinations are some of her favorite things to write about.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Sun, Huffington Post, Business Insider,,, and more. Her educational background is in journalism, art history, gender studies, Spanish, and film. She's been quoted as an expert travel source by CNBC,, MarketWatch, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Plenty of extra thick hair elastics. They tame my frizzy curls and come in handy in a surprising number of packing and hotel dilemmas."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Climbing (yes, climbing, it's steep!) the Great Wall of China before it's gone."

Travel Motto: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window, of course."

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