There’s no batteries to hunt for, no turkey to slave over and, most refreshingly of all, a completely stress free festive experience the whole family can enjoy. It’s no wonder the festive season is one of the peak family travel times of the year.

If you’re doing it for the first time, though, here are some ideas to help ensure your festive season goes off like a Christmas cracker.

You’re welcome!

Top Tips for a successful Christmas abroad

  1. If you’re travelling to a destination where Christmas is not celebrated locally, manage your children’s expectations. Lots of hotels in Asia, for example, might have some token decorations and a gala dinner, but that’s about it.
  2. Do pack a stocking (although you can always pad out treats from home with locally bought knick-knacks). It might mean a bit of extra luggage but Father Christmas has to come calling, wherever in the world you are. Or at least that’s been the view of the Stubborn Mini Mules in the past.
  3. The most popular family Christmas destinations are those which blend activities with some much -needed downtime. Beaches are perennially popular which is why, out of the 20 plus destinations Stubborn Mule offers, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica and Thailand top Santa’s List.
  4. Prepare your kids for that fact that Christmas dinner is going to be a local version of a special meal. Turkey and roast potatoes are out. Chicken stir fry and barbecued fish are in.
  5. For smaller children or kids at heart, stuff a small inflatable Christmas tree into your luggage. They pack away small but are a big token nod to a traditional Christmas.
  6. Think about where you’ll be on Christmas Day. You won’t want to be travelling, for example. Stubborn Mule tries to ensure Christmas morning is free for opening stockings and a leisurely breakfast, whilst arranging something exciting for the afternoon – white water rafting, ziplining, visiting sites of interest. If you want to do something REALLY special, say a private sunset yacht cruise or a hot air balloon, give us plenty of notice so that we can arrange this.

Most popular Family Holidays at Christmas

Family holidays at Christmas - young girl and her mum on safari in Sri Lanka

On safari in Sri Lanka

Where? Sri Lanka

What you might be doing on Christmas Day
Exploring the largest National Park in Sri Lanka, Wilpattu, on a search for leopard, crocodile and sloth bear. The day starts with a relaxing breakfast and time to open a present or two. In the afternoon you will take a safari in search of wildlife before returning back to an African style safari camp. Christmas dinner will be by candlelight around the camp fire.

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve
Enjoying the picturesque tea plantations of Ella, either relaxing by the pool or taking a hike through the plantations with superb views. The evening entertainment will be relatively low key but you can join other guests for a celebratory dinner.

How? Sri Lanka Christmas Tour

Family holidays at Christmas - family in a boat looking for monkeys in Tortuguero National Park Costa Rica

Spotting spider monkeys in Tortuguero

Where? Costa Rica

What you might be doing on Christmas Day:
Exploring the waterways of Tortuguero National Park by boat, keeping watch for caiman, bats, monkeys and snakes.

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve:
Walking across giant hanging suspension bridges in the cloud forest of Monteverde, ziplining from one tree to another.

How? Active Costa Rica

Family holidays at Christmas in Thailand - swimming from a boat in azure waters

Swimming in the Andaman Sea

Where? Thailand

What you might be doing on Christmas Day
An action-packed day in Kanchanaburi, home to the Bridge over the River Kwai. The afternoon is spent helping to wash elephants in the river (you’ll be squirted in return), whilst the evening is spent on a floating jungle raft on the banks of the River Kwai.

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve
Staying in a friendly village homestay on the south coast, spending two nights with a local family. Spend the day kayaking through the beautiful karst formations of the Andaman Sea before a new year celebration with the family. On New Year’s Day you’ll be heading to the beach for a few final days.

How? Southern Thailand Adventure 

Still unsure?

Still unsure? Sit back, relax and listen to our radio interview on Great Destinations Radio. Everything you need to know in under 5 minutes!

When to book

The best time to book a holiday for Christmas is in January or February. This may seem early, but Christmas is the busiest time of the year and the nicest hotels and services fill up many months in advance. Flights come on sale approximately 11 months before travel, and the best fares also get snapped up very quickly.

We only require a 30% tour deposit so you can book early to secure the best hotels and rooms and then save up during the course of the year to pay the balance.

Other destinations that are ideal for family holidays at Christmas include South Africa, Nepal, North and South India, Burma – Myanmar and Oman.

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
Do you agree with our recommendations for family holidays at Christmas… or can you add some of your own?  Please do email me with your feedback and we’ll add your ideas to our blog