Mid-September to mid-December can be tricky to get right in terms of travel destinations, mostly due to unsettled weather, rains and even hurricanes.
But help is at hand!
There are parts of the world where these months are ideal: the rainy season has finished and resplendent in greenery in India and Bhutan, the scorching heat has passed in Morocco, the crowds have dropped off in Italy, and Australia, well, it is hard to pick a bad month for Australia, but if I had to, July-August can be pretty cool and wet, at least in the southern states.
What follows is my Top 5 recommendations for travel in the Fall, where you and your family can enjoy luxury accommodation, incredible sights, and leave a legacy by making a difference, creating treasured memories in a diverse array, from wildlife conservation to teaching to building to caring for the homeless.
In early Fall (September and early October) the whole of Australia is up for grabs; beyond that and you risk heavy tropical rains in the far north, such as in Kakadu or the Kimberleys.
I recommend focusing on Sydney, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef for first timers, but for those with more time or repeat visitors, South Australia has so much to offer, from the extraordinary Wilpena Pound to Australia’s largest lake (Lake Eyre) to “Australia’s Galapagos” (Kangaroo Island) and of course the Barossa and Clare Valleys for wine lovers.
Make your trip to Australia meaningful by spending a few days conserving wildlife: help count kangaroos and wallabies, protect rivers from erosion and assist university researchers in the Blue Mountains. Stay at the fabulous eco-luxury One & Only Wolgan Valley – I suggest going at least one way by helicopter to truly appreciate the stunning vistas.
Morocco is arguably at its best from September to November, as the temperature is pleasant everywhere, and snow hasn’t yet fallen in the Atlas Mountains, meaning you can experience some epic hikes. Blend this with a night or two glamping in the Sahara Desert, exploring the souks of Marrakech and Fes, and even some beach time. Dar Ahlam is a little known paradise, and Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot is spectacular in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
Of course to really create treasured memories and make an impact, I recommend rolling up your sleeves, and in Morocco you can help renovate the home of a low-income family in Marrakech. By doing so, you get to interact meaningfully with the local people, hear their stories and gain insights into their lives (over copious cups of mint tea), all of which will leave a profound impression and your kids will realize how fortunate they are, and return home changed.
India is another country that shines from November to December, and much of the country is ideal at this time (except really for hiking in the Himalayas/Ladakh). First timers will love the classic Delhi-Agra-Jaipur (though I have suggestions for making even this extra special, for instance with a walking tour led by a former street-kid, or a cooking class in an Indian home), and wildlife seekers will be enthralled by the sight of a Royal Bengal Tiger in one of the National Parks such as Bandhavgarh.
The beaches of Goa round out any itinerary well, or you can explore magical Rajasthan in more depth, or cruise Kerala’s backwaters in a luxury converted rice barge.
You are spoilt for choice in the range of options for making a difference as well, from teaching in an inspiring school in a Delhi slum, to renovating the school, to conserving elephants or bears, to installing an eco-friendly stove for a family. Choosing any of these will hugely enrich your trip – you will create treasured memories, and be the change.
As you know, Italy is an easy destination to get to for UK and even US readers, and the Fall is a wonderful time to be there, as the weather is still good, but the hordes of visitors is reduced – helped even more by me arranging for you to have a private viewing of such treasures as the Sistine Chapel or a wing of the Uffizi Gallery.
Here you can indulge in a cooking class with a Michelin chef or get your adrenalin fix touring the Ferrari factory and even driving one of their supercars on a track. Your kids can train to be gladiators in Rome, and cycling in lesser-known Puglia is a fantastic family activity.
And you can bond closer with your kids whilst helping at a kitchen serving nutritious, beautiful meals to the homeless – you will see barriers being broken and experience engagement as you interact with dignity and respect.
5. Bhutan and Nepal
Head to the Himalayas just before the snowfall makes it too cold: both Nepal and Bhutan are fascinating and rewarding, with some distinct differences:
Nepal is higher, and in my opinion offers better trekking with more jaw dropping scenery (and Mt Everest of course)
Bhutan has arguably preserved its culture better, with the vast majority of people wearing the traditional attire in daily life
Nepal has better wildlife viewing, especially if you are looking for tiger, elephants or rhino, though Bhutan does have the Takin and Blacked Neck Crane
The cuisine is better in Nepal, though in the luxury lodges in Bhutan you will have no issues.
In terms of giving back, in Nepal you can really make a big impact by helping renovate homes damaged by earthquake in a remote part of Nepal (basic tents are the accommodation on offer), and in Bhutan you can renovate the home of a low-income family (within driving distance of one of the luxury lodges).
Not sure which one to choose? Do one this year and another next Fall!
Christopher Hill is Founder and CEO at Hands Up Holidays. Hands Up Holidays is an award-winning travel company specialising in tailor-made luxury family trips that combine sightseeing with hands-on service projects.