According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people say their stress level increases during the winter holidays. A lack of time or money, the pressures of gift-giving, and family gatherings are among the top stressors.
To avoid these stressors, more and more people choose to escape the holiday hustle by travelling to an unusual destination. Smart Lemur, an authentic travel website, lists some of the best destinations for this year's winter getaway.
Sri Lanka, South Asia
December in Sri Lanka, an island country surrounded by the Indian Ocean, is the most pleasant time – sunny and not overcrowded with tourists. The average daily temperature for this month is 27°C.
Visitors spending Christmas here enjoy the best tea and cinnamon in the world, exchange presents on the sandy beaches, drink from coconuts and watch wild elephants. Seeing these giants from close up in their natural habitat is one of the unique attractions in Sri Lanka.
Those eager to have more traditional holiday activities, are welcome to visit the capital Colombo, offering festive markets, special dinners, live music events and dance performances.
Mauritius, Indian Ocean
Mauritius, also called the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is a tiny island full of lavish nature, ranging from crystal-clear waters and coloured layers of sand to tropical forests and lively underwater world.
During December, air temperature is likely to reach 29°C, and travellers get to enjoy up to nine daily hours of sunshine. Lovely fuss, preparations, and Christmas songs in such weather allow visitors to experience celebrating Christmas in shorts and flip-flops.
Winter season is the time of abundant tropical fruits and splendid flame trees blooming in bright red fiery flowers. Fresh mangoes, pineapples, litchis (Lychee), Longan (Dragon Eye Fruit) and watermelons grow all around the island.
The most prominent attraction in Mauritius is swimming alongside dolphins.
Svalbard is one of the northernmost settlements in the world, luring travellers who dream of Arctic Christmas.
From mid-November to late January, this Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean enters into a mystical dark season known as Polar Night. During this period, the sun is hidden from the horizon and everything is pitch-dark around the clock.
Furthermore, winter is the time to hunt the Northern Lights. Svalbard is the only permanently inhabited place on Earth where visitors can experience dayside Northern Lights.
Christmas Island, Australia
Christmas Island is in the Indian Ocean, 1,550km north-west from the Australian mainland.
Apart from its obvious affiliation to Christmas after being named so on December 25th in 1643, the island is rich in spectacular nature.
It is the only place on Earth to witness one of the most incredible natural processes – an annual red crab migration. Bright-coloured crabs from all over the island start marching towards the ocean, all at the same time. And it usually occurs in December.
Furthermore, with 40 seabirds per capita, Christmas Island is a regional leader in this metric. Nature lovers can meet endemic species, such as the Christmas Island frigatebird and the elegant white-tailed tropicbird.
Despite the natural wonders and sandy beaches, the destination is still under the radar, receiving just 2000 visitors a year.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago, famous for its diverse wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery.
December is a warm and dry season with air temperature reaching 27°C. Visitors get a chance to see rare animals like marine iguanas, sea turtles, flamingos, Masked Boobies and White-cheeked Pintails, which tend to stay away during other months.
Ecuador's rich Christmas traditions make tourists feel part of a big family. The locals sing carols and celebrate with delicious meals like roasted turkey.
Smart Lemur is a website created by a group of travel enthusiasts who are passionate about unique and authentic travel experiences. www.smartlemur.com