Nairobi News


No vacation? Here are three memorable ways to spend Christmas

The Christmas spirit is in the air and many people are rushing to prepare for the festivities.

A random check with a couple of local tour and travel agencies reveals that most of the popular holiday destinations, especially at the Coast region, are fully booked.

That strikes out most of the ideal holiday destinations. So, with Christmas just a few days away, is it still possible to have a special and memorable holiday?

Here is how:

1. Holiday home

You must have heard about Airbnb, especially if you have an adventurous streak that compels you to travel a lot. It is an online community service that enables homeowners (hosts) to rent their homes to travellers who seek accommodation for a specified period.

The hosts list the spaces they wish to rent out on the Airbnb website, complete with photos and cost, which makes it easy for interested guests to easily book these spaces online.

Unlike hotel suites, the Airbnb rentals have a homely feel that allows guests to enjoy the full experience of the destination in its natural setting. Most of them are self-catering, which means you can enjoy all your favourite home-made Christmas recipes at a holiday home of your choice.

The homes are located in serene environments and are a welcome break from the everyday urban scenery. Plenty of outdoor space gives room for the children to run around, ride bikes and take part in other outdoor fun activities.

The homes include farm cottages, bungalows, bus houses, boat houses, tree houses and huts, all modernised and fitted with amenities such as electricity, Internet connection and plumbing.

Some cottages even have farm animals to further enrich the experience. Some bungalows, especially those located in Nanyuki, date back to the colonial era, giving the guests a feel of Kenya’s history. Log on to to find out what’s on offer.

2. Home exchange

An alternative to renting space is home exchange, which enables you to change your scenery for free. You start by registering in any of the available home exchange websites online such as ‘Guest To Guest’ or ‘Love Home Swap’. This will include creating a profile that bears a short description of your home, along with pictures.

Next, you search for the kind of home you would wish to swap with, and once the match is made, the swap takes place at absolutely no charge. It is almost similar to how dating sites work, if you have ever been on one.

The best thing about home exchange is that it allows you to experience a wide range of home experiences at no cost, and as long as the match has been made, you can vacation in a mansion, a cottage, a farm house or even a simple studio apartment.

If a new experience is what you are looking to share with your family this Christmas, this would be an idea worth a try as you also gift someone else the experience of your space.

The sites have taken precautionary measures that ensure those that do the exchange are legit homeowners, although they can only do so online. It is important therefore to take your own security measures, such as locking up your valuables in a safe.

Remember, once you open your home to a stranger, there really is no telling what they will do in your house. A good rapport can help foster trust, and you may also agree to have surveillance cameras if that will enhance peace of mind for both parties.

3. Visit the elderly

Another way to make this a memorable Christmas is by making a visit to a nursing home for the elderly, such as Thogoto Home for the Aged in Kiambu County, Harrison House Retirement Home in Nairobi and Mzeecare Retirement Home in Ridgeways, Nairobi.

Most of them have lost touch with their families and would greatly appreciate having visitors come over for Christmas.

Those whose memory is still sharp relish telling stories from their heyday, most of which are not only entertaining, but also laden with life lessons, which would be good for your children.

In addition, they love to hear the sounds of children laughing — it lifts their spirits and warms their hearts. It explains why intergenerational programming is now being embraced by nursing homes for the aged to help treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

If you decide to visit these homes, carry with you some candy and pastries because old people have a sweet tooth too, but since their staple diet does not include these, the sweets will definitely be a treat.

You may also want to carry toiletries; top on that list is unscented petroleum jelly as their skin tends to dry out really fast.

Thick woollen socks or scarves would be highly appreciated as well, but the best present would be your company.

Bring with you some great music CDs and you will be amazed to discover that some of them still have some smooth moves from back in the day.