Ask Joan: Christmas holidays abroad

Family holidays for the festive season

Santa in the sun: Christmas on the beach

Santa in the sun: Christmas on the beach

 

We are a family of seven living in Bangkok, Argentina, Edinburgh, Dublin and Washington DC. We are trying to get together for Christmas, hopefully to the sun.

We have looked at a number of options, including Florida and California, but cost and travel times are proving prohibitive.

Three of us are teachers and the earliest date we can travel is December 23rd. Can you offer any suggestions for in or around southern USA, Central America or the Caribbean, bearing in mind flight times and cost? Most of us will be limited to a 10-day stay. – AD, Edinburgh

Getting together for Christmas anywhere is always going to be costly. I would rule out the Caribbean as it is hugely expensive at Christmas, and Central America as it is difficult to get to from all your locations.

To keep everyone to two flights or fewer, Florida beats all other destinations for access. Accommodation for seven at a reasonable price is also good. For example, Emirates fly from Bangkok via Dubai to Orlando for about €1,400 return. From Buenos Aires to Orlando via Miami will cost about €1,300 with American Airlines.

From Edinburgh or Glasgow you would be looking at about £800 with Virgin Atlantic or British Airways via Manchester or London. Or you could go via Dublin for about £857 on the direct Aer Lingus service. Washington to Orlando or Tampa will be about $350 with a number of carriers.

Accommodation in Florida around Miami tends to be very expensive for Christmas. The Gulf Coast may suit better and there are many lovely towns to stay in.

Consider Sarasota, Venice, Bradenton, St Petersburg or the islands of Sanibel, Anna Maria and Captiva. You will find a great selection of properties to rent on Vrbo.com.

My daughter loves the Christmas holiday. Her ideal would be a small cabin or cottage in the snow with lights on the outside, a tree with all the trimmings and an open fire inside.

I would love to make her dream come true, in Ireland, Lapland, Vermont, Switzerland or wherever and would be grateful for your advice. – KD, Meath

There are a number of ways you could approach this, finding a cabin in the snow or joining an organised Christmas holiday in the ideal location. Highlife, the Irish ski company has gorgeous wooden chalets in France that are picture perfect for a Christmas treat.

You could relax, let them light the log fire, do the shopping, put up the tree and enjoy the chef cooking Christmas dinner, and indeed all the meals for the week. There will be a chance to go sledding, playing in the snow or skiing. Over Christmas a week in one of the chalets costs from €1,120 for adults and €910 for children plus flights, Highlife.ie.

Easily accessible locations from Ireland are Salzburg in Austria, Milan for the Dolomites, Geneva for the Swiss and French Alps or Barcelona for Andorra. All of these mountainous regions are very pretty and have lovely wooden houses/chalets to stay in. Look for house rentals on homeaway.com, housetrip.com and airbnb.com.

Lapland is more about the experience of meeting Santa Claus and there are a number of trips direct from Ireland in December. A two day trip will cost from €859pps, see sunway.ie/lapland, visit santa.ie and falconholidays.ie.

Getting to Lapland and renting a house is possible via Copenhagen, Stockholm or Helsinki and there are lots of traditional homes to rent on the above websites too.

Send your queries to jscales@irishtimes.com