We’ll keep this brief because time is of the essence.

Last minute holidays: they’re fun, they’re spontaneous, they happen.

Whilst the vast majority of you will have booked your family summer holiday months in advance sometimes, for whatever reason, things might not work out that way.

Fear not! Whilst many destinations like Namibia have been booked solid for months, there’s still some utterly fabulous places where there’s still late availability – if you move fast.

We like to call this ‘The Carpe Diem Collection’

Where: Costa Rica

Costa Rica activities - kids about to go zip lining

Beach, wildlife and a ton of family-friendly activities, what’s not to like…

Why go this summer?
It’s almost like the European family summer holiday gods planned it. The break in the rainy season falls in late July and August, before resuming again once the younger folk have gone back to school. Costa Ricans call this mini-dry season ‘veranillo’. It’s verdant. And there’s fewer tourists than usual. Packed with exciting activities and to-die for jungle, volcano and beach scenery, the question should really be, who ISN’T going to Costa Rica this summer?!

Don’t miss:
Our Costa Rica with Kids blog, for must-do activities for all the family.

Be inspired:
Costa Rica Highlights

Where: Bali

Bai boat trip - summer family holiday

There are lots of great family summer holiday activities in Bali, including many that are ocean based

Why go this summer?
For those put off by recent events in Sri Lanka, Bali is the perfect tropical alternative. Even smaller than its subcontinental counterpart, which means short travelling times whilst there, this diverse island is chocka block with adventure (think volcano climbing, cycling, walking through paddy fields), culture (a blend of Hindi and Buddhist influences, with dance, shadow plays and batiks) and stunning, white sandy beaches for some much deserved R & R. Trek through rainforests, visit a tea plantation, swim with colourful fish.

Don’t Miss:
Loads of water-based adrenalin activities: white water rafting, jumping into waterfalls at Sambangan Gardens and canyoning down rocky rivers.

Be inspired:
Our two week Highlights of Bali sample itinerary is a comprehensive tour which gives you a taste of everything to see and do on the island.

Where? Egypt

Family summer holiday in Egypt - family in front of the pyramids

See Tutankhamun’s treasures, ride a camel at the Pyramids and spend the night on board a felucca

Why go this summer?
In a word: ‘budget’. At this time of still-struggling-a-bit sterling, Egypt is one of the most inexpensive destinations we offer. Yes, it will be hot, but it’s a dry heat and almost all the hotels have pools for you to cool off in after a morning’s Sphinx-seeing and Pyramid-peering. Check out our Egypt with kids blog.

Don’t Miss:
A Felucca cruise along the Nile, not only for a splendid way to sight-see, but cooled by breezes, too.

Be inspired:
As well as Egypt, many families combine a trip with neighbouring Jordan. See our Highlights of Egypt and Egypt & Jordan Highlights for details.

Where: Borneo

Turtle laying eggs on Borneo beach - family wildlife holidays

See nesting turtles on an eco tour at Turtle Island (Selingan), a summer family holiday favourite

Why go this summer?
Borneo is one of South East Asia’s best summer destinations, it being the driest time of year to visit (though note that this is the tropics…..there is always some rain!). It’s also the best time of year to see the orangutans, Borneo’s biggest tourist draw, as the trees are fruiting. It’s a feast! Read our Borneo with kids blog for more ideas on the best children-friendly activities.

Don’t Miss:
The vast caves at Mulu, where you can explore on foot and by boat.

Be inspired:
We’ve two sample itineraries to choose from depending on the age and abilities of your children, either our two week Active Borneo adventure or our 3 week, more comprehensive Borneo in Depth sample itinerary. Of course, we can tailor any trip to suit your family.

Where? China

family summer holiday in china - kids posing with the terracotta warriors

Terracotta kids in Xian

Why go this summer?
In a country as vast as China, you need time to travel to and experience the many sights and sites it has on offer. Having been travelling here for over 20 years (Liddy used to be a tour guide here, don’t you know?), we know exactly where you’ll be able to find the best climate and weather, accommodation availability and enough activities to keep even the most Haribo-happy content (learn Kung Fu at the Shaolin Monastery, anyone?). Check out our China with kids top 10 blog for more ideas.

Don’t miss:
Yangshuo, for its karst limestone scenery and other-worldliness.

Be inspired:
China Highlights in 3 weeks

Where? Tanzania

Summer family holidays in Tanzania

See a whole host of safari animals, experience local cultures and then chill on a gorgeous beach… the perfect all round family adventure!

Why go this summer?
Summer in Tanzania is actually winter, given that it’s just over the equator, which is fantastic news for families, particularly those with younger children. Temperatures max at 29 degrees near the coast, whilst the mountains and central areas are around 22 to 25 degrees. It’s the dry season too, which makes for excellent wildlife viewing as the animals tend to congregate near the waterholes.

Don’t Miss:
Nane Nane day, 8th August, a time when the nation’s farmers’ contribution is recognised and celebrated. The festivities can last up to a week, with stalls and regional fairs held throughout the country. Spirits are understandably high! Also see our Tanzania with kids blog for more child-friendly activities.

Be inspired:
Enjoy the best of both worlds with our 14 day Safari and Beach holiday.

Where? Cuba

Classic cars in Cuba - family summer holiday itinerary

Take the family for a spin in a fabulous vintage car

Why go this summer?
Tourism went bonkers in Cuba over a couple of years ago, with Europeans descending in droves in the hope that they would be able to visit before the US embargo was lifted and things changed. Well the embargo is still in place, not too much has changed, but things have calmed down a lot with fewer tourists than in recent years.  Whilst many of the large hotels may be full at this stage and unable to accommodate last minute bookings, we can always find the locally run casas, the most authentic accommodation on the island – even at the last minute.

Don’t Miss:
A horseback ride through the beautiful countryside surrounding Vinales, with or without cigar.

Be inspired:
Want to know what a Cuba trip is like, day by day? See how our very own Helene found her trip in her ‘Postcards from Cuba’ blog. Depending on how much time you have, take a look at our sample summer family holiday itineraries Highlights of Cuba (10 days) and Cuba in Two Weeks.

Where: Vietnam

Family exploring local site - family summer holidays

Kids love exploring the waterways at Ninh Binh

Why go this summer?
Summer in Vietnam will give a mixed bag of weather. The south is in its wet season and the north will be hot and humid with late afternoon rain but there is still plenty of sunshine. And the centre of Vietnam? Oh yes! You can expect predominantly hot weather and (our favourite) far fewer crowds than at other times of year. And, even if you do head south, the rain, like many places in the tropics, doesn’t usually arrive until mid afternoon with a short sharp shower.

Don’t miss:
Cycling around the back streets of Hanoi and hanging out on the beach at Hoi An. Check out our Top 10 things to do in Vietnam with kids review.

Be inspired:
Highlights of Vietnam

Where? Peru

family summer holiday in Peru, enjoying activities in the Sacred Valley

Peru’s Sacred Valley is an exciting hub for summer family holiday activities

Why go this summer?
A southern hemisphere destination, Peru’s winter (May – September) is the driest and therefore also the best season to travel, particularly in the Sacred Valley area around Machu Picchu and Cusco. Need more inspiration for a summer family holiday? Have a look at our Top Ten Things to do with the Family in Peru guide.

Don’t miss:
Zip lining, white water rafting, hiking and cycling in the high-octane, adrenaline sports centre of the Sacred Valley.

Be inspired:
Highlights of Peru in 3 weeks

Where? Mongolia

Mongolia family holidays - young travellers in ger - yurt

If the journey is all part of the adventure for your family, this could be the ideal summer destination

Why go this summer?
In a word: climate. Given the very ‘wild and outdoors’ nature of Mongolia, only the most intrepid families would consider travelling outside of the June – late September months.

Don’t Miss:
The Nadaam Festival is the nation’s most famous and most celebrated occasion, held during July, this year from 11th – 15th. It’s a celebration of independence, a gathering of nomadic, indigenous people and an outstanding combination of arts and sports. If your children are lucky enough not to be at school then, it’s worth the effort!

Be inspired:
Depending on the time you have available, take a look at our sample itineraries, ideal for a summer family holiday, Mongolia Family Adventure 2 weeks or Mongolia Family Adventure 3 weeks.

Where? Belize

Young man learning out of boat to pose with benign shark in Belize

Snorkel, dive, visit Mayan ruins and explore the ancient cave systems at Actun Tunichil Muknal

Why go this summer? Like its better-known neighbour, Costa Rica, Belize has a break in the wet season during the UK school summer holidays. We can’t guarantee wall to wall sunshine, but given the tropical warm waters, the pristine beaches, far fewer tourists and friendly people, we really don’t think you’ll mind.

Don’t miss: Cave exploration at Actun Tunichil Muknal, one of the most exciting activities you can do in Central America. Be warned, there are skeletons…

Be inspired: See our Belize photo blog for a great round up of things to do with the family such as those you’ll find on our Belize Adventure Highlights trip.

Where? Cambodia

Family on the Bamboo train, Battambang

The Bamboo train is a popular summer family holiday activity for little ones as well as tweens and teens

Why go this summer?
We get a lot of questions about travelling in Cambodia’s green season, and every single member of the Stubborn Mule team has done it. Why? Well, it’s much less crowded than peak season, giving you first dibs on sights and fantastic accommodation, but it’s also SO much less rainy than one ever expects. In South East Asia, you generally have hours of the day to enjoy before the clouds gather and rain falls from around 2pm, sometimes as late as 4pm, and once it does, the air clears and the cycle starts again. Find out how top UK family travel blogger, Cathy Winston, found travelling to Cambodia during green season here. An awfully big adventure and 12 reasons to travel to Cambodia with kids

Don’t Miss:
A stay in an Eco Retreat in the Cardamom Mountains or a luxurious stay in a floating tent hotel (really!)

Be inspired:
We tailor-make all our summer family holiday itineraries according to the season but have a look at our 15 day sample itinerary, Cambodia Highlights.

Where? Mexico

Last minute summer holidays 2019 to Mexico

Mix Mexico’s Mayan sites with the beach for the ideal summer family holiday

Why go this summer? Many families travel to Mexico during the winter, but actually, the Yucatan Peninsula is great for families in the summer, too. There’s an array of bright and colourful festivals throughout the region, whilst animal migrations, including whale sharks gathering off the coast (you can go swimming with these gentle giants) and turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs.

Don’t Miss: The Whale Shark Festival at Isla Mujeres, 19th– 22nd July, a celebration of the largest fish in the world! Dancing, music and more.

Be inspired: Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is easy to drive around, with a self-drive option shaving almost half the price of a fully guided Best of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula trip.

Where? Burma

Summer family holiday in Burma - brother and sister explore the temples

Explore Bagan’s temples, see Ava by horse and cart and bathe elephants at Kalaw

Why go this summer?
Hang on. Isn’t it monsoon season in Burma? Well yes, it is, but whilst the beaches are likely to be wet, there’s still plenty of sunshine on the dry central plains around Bagan and Mandalay, the perfect conditions in which to explore.

Don’t Miss:
A day spent looking after elephants in the Green Hill Elephant Centre, washing them, playing with them and trying – and failing – not to get splashed by them.

Be inspired:
Our 15 day ‘Burma in Summer’ trip packs a big punch when it comes to keeping everyone happy.

Last minute summer family holiday ideas

For a summer family holiday itinerary tailored to your dates and requirements, and a quote, do ring us as soon as you can or email us using our online form.

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
I’m always interested to hear about your travels so do email me with your experiences and feedback on your summer family holiday.

[email protected].