xmas market

A Christmas market in Jena, Germany. Photo by Rene Schwietzke.

Your weekly roundup of the hottest travel links across the net:

1. Taking a vacation around Christmas-time (when you often get extra days off work for free) can seem like a great idea until you realize that while you’re sitting in a sterile hotel room by yourself, everyone else is off with their families, eating, drinking and opening gifts. Whether you’re traveling by yourself, or with young children who are longing for the traditional Christmas experience, it’s possible to reignite the holiday spirit by visiting a festive market. This article lists five great European cities for Christmas markets, while this one delves specifically into the market scene in Germany.

2. Ever wondered what it would be like to take the world’s longest rail journey? NPR has an interesting multi-part series on the Trans-Siberian, which recounts the writer’s trip – from the history of the railroad to the interesting Russian characters he meets along the way. If you’re interested in taking a trip like this yourself, I recommend checking out this fabulous resource, which details all the different routes that are possible on the Trans-Siberian as well as exactly what to expect.

3. In my recent holiday gift guide, I talked about different ways of purchasing trips for friends and family this Christmas. If you’re hoping to be on the receiving end of such a present, you may want to check out this article, which lists several companies that let you create a “wish list” (basically a gift registry) that shows up on facebook and prompts your friends to purchase those travel packages for you.