Swap the drizzle for the sizzle, late-night wrapping for lazy, afternoon napping and the turkey for…well, we can’t think of what rhymes with ‘turkey’ but what we do know is: as people become increasingly time poor, having a festive family adventure in the sun is, for many, a no-brainer.

What’s not to love?

It’s hot. Sunny! People SMILE and laugh, even in the depths of a UK winter. You get to wear your swimmers in December. There’s beach barbecues instead of three course meals and Aunty Liz’s trifle. Jools Holland is too busy to come. We’re also yet to find a supermarket abroad which has Slade, Cliff Richard and East 17 on a loop (this alone could get you packing).

One thing worth mentioning, though, is to address that ol’ chestnut: when is the best time to book? Quite simply, the answer is: as early as you can. In doing so, you could save literally hundreds of pounds. Most airlines release their flights in January and February, so if you want to secure the cheapest flights for a family Christmas break in the same year, book then. Similarly, the best accommodation is also booked up well in advance. If you want that beach front villa in Sri Lanka, or that safari lodge in Namibia, do it as early as you can organise or afford.

After May and as the year progresses, the pickings are slim in some destinations. But if you can be flexible, we will do our utmost to find you somewhere that fits the bill for you and your family.

So, step away from that cooker and see if we can tempt you with these stress-free, family Christmas breaks.

Where? Egypt

Family on Nile cruise - Summer family holidays

Take a felucca down the Nile on a family Christmas break

What will the weather be like?
Despite December being the first month of winter, the south of the country will be bathed in lovely, sunny weather, highs of 23-24 degrees – ideal for sightseeing. Do bring a sweater for evenings, though.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
It’s one of the quintessential Egyptian experiences: taking a felucca (a traditional sail boat) down the Nile, stopping at temples en route. Not only do you feel immersed in the culture, it’s slow travel at its best.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Taking a camel ride around The Great Pyramid, Giza, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, coming up close and personal with The Sphinx.

How?
Highlights of Egypt

Where? South Africa

family Christmas holiday in South Africa - teenagers on safari

Tracking the Big 5 in South Africa – safaris can be adapted to suit all ages

What will the weather be like?
More sunshine than you could poke a candy cane at.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Tracking the Big 5, but also black wildebeest, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and more in Amakhala Nature Reserve, accompanied by an experienced guide adept at finding the best places to wildlife spot. It’s an early start, yes, but you’ll be able to open your stockings later in the day, perhaps when back at camp enjoying a slap-up lunch. (See our South Africa for families photo blog for more ideas).

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Cape Town does New Year’s Eve well, it’s much more of a celebration than other destinations we travel to. Saunter down to the waterfront after enjoying an evening supper washed down with wine from local vineyards to watch a spectacular fireworks display.

How?
Classic Cape & Garden Route

Where? Cambodia

Otres Beach in Cambodia which we recommend for a family Christmas break

Otres Beach, Sihanoukville, perfect for family Christmas breaks

What will the weather be like?
Hot, sunny and not too humid. Frankly, perfect.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Deep in the Cardamom Mountains, you’ll be opening stockings on a luxury, tented, floating bungalow, an eco-lodge surrounded by pristine waters and lush forest. Go for a boat ride, swim in a nearby waterfall or just thank your lucky stars you’re not chained to the cooker. (Check out Kelly’s Cambodia photo blog).

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Hailed as, ‘The best beach in Cambodia’, you’ll be snorkelling, swimming and soaking up the sun on Otres beach down the quiet end of Sihanoukville.

How?
Cambodia Highlights

Where? Oman

Family Christmas breaks and single parent holidays abroad - guide with young tourist - Oman

Oman is a fabulous destination for family Christmas breaks, especially with the help of a knowledgeable guide

What will the weather be like?
Hot, sunny and dry, with average temperatures around the low 20s.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Taking a camel ride out into the desert before enjoying a traditional lunch in a Bedouin tent.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Being a ‘dry’ country, you are free from the obligation of attending raucous parties. Instead (and all the better for it), spend the (hangover free) day in the mountains at Jebel Shams, Oman’s answer to the Grand Canyon. The views will take your breath away. (Check out our Top 10 activities in Oman with kids).

How?
Highlights of Oman

Where? Thailand

Family Christmas breaks in Thailand - young girls playing in a hammock beside the beach in Thailand

Family Christmas breaks in Thailand can be action packed but there’s always time to relax

What will the weather be like?
Average temperatures of 27 degrees, peak water visibility and very little to no rain. Temperatures hotter in the south than the north.

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 

Where? Ecuador

Family Christmas breaks in Ecuador - young tourist riding

Riding cowboy style on a family Christmas break is lots of fun

What will the weather be like?
Ecuador’s tourist seasons are dictated by holiday periods rather than the weather. That being said, if you’re wanting to combine beaches and activity, then late December / early January is one of the best times to visit. Result!

What you might be doing on Christmas Day:
Make like cowboys and take a ride around the snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano, one of the world’s highest. The kids will be thrilled! (See our Ecuador with kids blog).

What you might be doing on New Year’s Eve:
As mentioned, Ecuador’s southern beaches are a real draw at this time of year. If ‘learn to surf’ is on your or your family’s resolutions list, these Pacific beaches are a great place to start. Or opt to experience a jungle adventure in the steamy Amazon.

How?  Volcanoes and Jungle

Where? Sri Lanka

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

The kids will love a safari in Sri Lanka, a family Christmas breaks favourite

What will the weather be doing?
Plenty of sunshine, dry days and peak beach conditions. Average temperature: 30 degrees.

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 for a slap up supper. (See our Sri Lanka with kids top 10 for an inspiring overview of what you can do on family Christmas breaks.)

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

Where? Belize

Exploring Mayan ruins on family Christmas breaks

Located deep in the heart of the rainforest and reached by boat, the Mayan ruins of Lamanai are incredibly impressive.

What will the weather be like?
Warm, dry and sunny

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
As family Christmas breaks go, this is fairly hard to beat: waking up to the sound of howler monkeys (we admit, it’s a very loud, guttural roar) in a gorgeous Eco Lodge in Lamanai, Belize’s answer to the Amazon Rain Forest. Go crocodile spotting, listen to and watch the colourful wildlife or walk to a local Mayan ruin.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Snorkelling in Shark Alley (see our Belize blog), a channel where rays, sharks and turtles gather in crystal clear waters, undoubtedly one of the best places to snorkel in the world.

How?
Belize Adventure Highlights

Where? Cuba

Family Christmas breaks - photo of Plaza de la Catedral which is the centre of festivities on New Year's Eve.

Cathedral Square on New Year’s Eve is the place to go if your kids are older and love a party

What will the weather be like?
Dry, sunny and hot

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
If sending your relatives back home wild with envy sounds appealing, this is it: you’ll be relaxing on an idyllic, picture postcard beach (warm water, white sands, you get the idea) on the ‘desert island’ of Cayo Levisa, just off the Cuban coast. Did we mention there’s rum? (For more ideas on family activities, read our Cuba with kids blog and Helene’s Postcards from Cuba.)

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
When in Cuba, do as the Cubans do. PARTY! We can’t think of many places which buzz as much as Havana and you’ll be in the thick of it, sipping cocktails and enjoying a carnival-like atmosphere. There’s a large party in Cathedral Square, but it’s expensive and not necessarily kid – friendly. One thing to watch out for: when the clock strikes 12, it’s ‘customary’ for people to throw water (occasionally furniture) over their balcony. Best stick to non-residential areas!

How?
Cuba in 2 weeks

Where? Costa Rica

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

Spot noisy Spider monkeys on a boat excursion along the Pena Blanca River

What will the weather be like?
Costa Rica is tropical and is covered in rainforest. So it rains. But Christmas is one of the best times to visit and there should be plenty of sunshine. Bring a mac or a brolly just in case, but also don’t forget your sun cream and sun hat. Expect a mixed bag!

What you might be doing on Christmas Day:
Exploring the quiet waters of the Pena Blanca river by boat, keeping watch for caiman, bats, monkeys and snakes. (See our Costa Rica with kids blog.)

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? Costa Rica Easter & Christmas

Where? Vietnam

Family Christmas breaks - Vietnam hill village

All the family will enjoy exploring hill tribe villages in Northern Vietnam

What will the weather be like?
You can enjoy loads of sunshine and temperatures of up to 30 degrees in Vietnam’s tropical south. Further north, temperatures are slightly cooler, but still very pleasant.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Unlike the hill tribe villages of North Thailand, those in Vietnam remain comparatively untouched. Enjoy walking through the fields, meeting people as they go about their day to day business whilst staying in an eco-resort which was built by and employs local people. A fascinating cultural melting pot.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
We can’t think of anywhere better than seeing in 2019 in Vietnam’s ‘secret’ paradise island. Just off the coast of Cambodia, Phu Quoc, with its white, sandy beaches and turquoise waters is picture-postcard-palm-fringed gorgeous. You’ll be staying in one of the most luxurious eco resorts in the country. (Check out our Vietnam with kids blog for more fabulous activities with children.)

How?
Highlights of Vietnam

Where? Burma

Hot-air balloon ride over Bagan on family Christmas break

A hot air balloon ride over Bagan is a very special treat on family Christmas breaks

What will the weather be like?
December is actually one of the coolest months of the year here, but at an average of 31 degrees, the perfect temperatures for families. Next to no rainfall, either.

What you could be doing on Christmas Day
Rudolph, Santa and sleigh should have left the skies by dawn leaving you and your family free to take a hot air balloon ride to watch the sunrise over the fascinating temple complex at Bagan.

What you could be doing on New Year’s Eve
Hanging out on Ngapali beach for a chilled-out party, gala dinner and evening entertainment.

How?
Burma at Christmas

(See our blog Burma/Myanmar travel – Yes or No? and the Telegraph’s discussion on travel to Myanmar.)

Family Christmas breaks

If you rather like the idea of your next family Christmas abroad, do get in touch. We’ve also put together our top tips for a successful family holiday at Christmas.

To book a last minute Christmas holiday for 2018, ring us straight away on 01728 752751 during office hours, or send your enquiry via our website contact form. We’ll do everything we can to find a great option for you and your family.

info@stubbornmuletravel.com.

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel

Morocco family Christmas break - young girl on dunes with Santa hat

In search of Santa Claus…