If you’re dreading the prospect of entertaining and feeding the family over Christmas, why don’t you let somebody else worry about the washing up? Go abroad! Holiday company Stubborn Mule have put together some tips that will save you time and prevent tears if you’re a parent who decides to take the family away for the festive break.
Founder of the company Liddy Pleasants says around half of her clients who travel away for Christmas are keen to avoid the commercial hype. The other 50% want to enjoy the festivities but welcome the prospect of warm sunny days during the holidays. For families who do want to celebrate on the 25th, Liddy suggests that they plan ahead and take everything they need to mark Christmas with them.
“Central and South America are primarily Christian countries and Christmas is a big deal there,” says Liddy. “You’ll find decorations, lights, Christmas trees and cribs. Christmas there is a family holiday and celebrated on the 24th – Christmas Eve. You might find that everything will be closed down over Christmas,” warns Liddy.
“If you go to Asia, it has a big commercial tradition and people have embraced Christmas without the religious side of it. You’ll see huge numbers of decorations and inflatable Father Christmases and carols will play. Everything will still be open because it’s not a national holiday. Again celebrations often take place on the 24th so you need to be prepared for that.”
“Unless you are in a remote destination, most large hotels will offer some kind of nod to Christmas,” Liddy says. If you have young children, though, you might need to help them understand that the celebrations will be different. “I took my three- and five-year-olds to Thailand a few years ago. My children had never been out of the UK for Christmas before and had expected Father Christmas visiting and turkey. We managed to get some items together to make a stocking but we couldn’t recreate a Christmas dinner on the beach,” she says. “But we managed their expectations and they were fine. They loved the big, Asian meal for dinner. But if we had not prepared them it might have come as a bit of a shock.”
Whether you feel that Christmas is hyped up or not, Liddy says you should mark the day because their friends could compare Christmas stories when they return to school. “It doesn’t have to be all about Christmas,” she says. “You could arrange a kayaking trip or go waterskiing, or zip lining. If you do something very exciting it can be really memorable for the children.”
Stubborn Mule’s most popular Christmas destination is Sri Lanka, where Liddy suggests you can combine cultural interests with activities on the warm beaches. “There are a huge number of child-friendly things you can do there,” says Liddy. “Older children will enjoy white-water rafting. In the south, you are on the main migration route for whales and Christmas is a good time to see them. Turtles will come ashore to nest and you ride through villages in wooden carts pulled behind bullocks. There’s great cycling or riding on old trains. In Sri Lanka you’ll find historic ruins and UNESCO World Heritage sites, which can be fun to explore. You could tell the kids that they are off to see the monkeys when in fact you really want to see the old Buddhist caves at the top!” she suggests.
Other Asian destinations like Thailand, Cambodia and Burma are all very popular at Christmas for both the sand and sunshine and their historical sites.
You can get more information about family holidays over Christmas and New Year on the website stubbornmuletravel.com.