“The first time we snuck away for a vacation in the last week of December, we felt a little guilty,” admits Kristina D. “I can’t tell you how fast we got over it!”

For many travelers, an end of year trip is a counter-intuitive idea. After all, the kids are out of school and work is slow so it’s one of those rare times when everybody can be at home together. It’s the season when you should be enjoying the people you love. Better to be resting up to hit the ground running when the holidays end, right? Traveling–anywhere but to a family gathering–is, well, maybe a little self-indulgent.

But did you notice? Each and every one of those reasons for being at home is an even better reason for getting out of Dodge. Lighter everyday schedules make it easier to coordinate travel. Can you picture a better way to spend time with the people you love (and to keep them from being bored) than by making memories together as you swim with sea lions in the Galápagos or watch the stars from a luxury encampment in the Moroccan desert? Fresh off a glacier hike in Iceland or snorkeling in Costa Rica, you’ll be plenty amped up to launch the new year. And if you don’t indulge yourself, who will? The added bonus: The world of memories you create on a year-end vacation will stay a lot shinier a lot longer than the stuff-of-the-moment that other people unwrap.

Read on, and you’ll notice that a year-end Classic Journeys vacation is about something considerably different from a few days on a sunny beach. Like every departure, these handcrafted year-end adventures include our expert, award-winning local guides, 5-star luxury accommodations, and a fantastic variety of cultural or multi-sport activities that will make you the envy of everybody back home.

The Year of the Blue-Footed Booby

Blue footed booby in the Galapagos

When last we looked, none of the Galápagos Big 5 show up on the Chinese lunar calendar. But rest assured that this will be your year of the blue-footed booby, giant land tortoise, sea lion, iguana and penguin on your island-based trip led by the best naturalist guides. From luxury boutique hotels, you get to explore the islands like no cruise-ship passenger can. It’s why AFAR Magazine named it the “Best Wildlife Experience in the World.”

The Most Christmas-y Christmas

Christmas markets in Vienna, Austria

Do you start thinking about your decorations before Halloween? You are Christmas Market material! Starting in mid-December, the legendary markets of Prague, Vienna and Budapest are a holiday lover’s dream. Market squares full of traditional crafts, local music and seasonal treats will forever change how you view and celebrate Christmas.

Iceland At Its Coolest

A waterfall in Iceland.

Iceland in December? Absolutely! With the right equipment (which our gear valet can make turnkey for you), you will experience the island as few outsiders ever do. The volcanoes, the waterfalls, the Icelandic horses, the glaciers and the fine, perfectly located hotels. ‘Tis the season to discover what it is to be an Icelander in the company of guides descended from 9th century Vikings.

Summery South Africa

Wine region at sunset in Stellenbosch, South Africa

The start of South Africa’s summer is prime time for a visit. Of course, you have generous days of safari at a luxury encampment on a private game preserve. Beforehand, there are sunny days in Capetown and at the Cape of Good Hope…not to mention vineyard walks in the scenic Cape Winelands with a fine local bottle to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

New Year’s Eve in Sorrento

A dock with boats in Amalfi.

You might as well plan now to do a little bragging. This Special Edition Amalfi Coast departure includes Capri, Positano and Pompeii. It’s the season when the tourists cede the region to the real aficionados…like you. You have all the romance of the remarkable seascapes, a chance to make pizza and taste wine in a private clifftop home, and plenty more to celebrate.

Casual in Costa Rica

2 Monkeys in Costa Rica

Back home, everybody’s racing to parties and fighting the retail crowds. You, however, are standing in a cloud of butterflies. Or maybe that’s you spotting howler monkeys in a rainforest. Or whitewater rafting on a jungle river. Ever bask in a thermal pool heated by the volcano next door? You will this year as you ring out 2019 on an active eco-vacation to Costa Rica full of beauty and surprises.

Your Moroccan Moment

Man and Woman on Camels in sand dunes of Morocco

Morocco is easily close enough for an end-of-year visit. The Essaouira to Marrakesh trip reveals it all in just six curated days. Or opt for the nine-day Fes to Marrakesh itinerary. Either way, you’ll spend a luxurious night in a desert encampment, ride camels, visit a bustling medina, and meet wonderfully hospitable villagers. Exotic Morocco fulfills your resolution to understand the world a little better.

Indescribable Indochina

Halong Bay in Vietnam

Take plenty of photos because words may fail you when you try to describe your trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. From Hanoi to Angkor Wat, the night market of Luang Prabang to the deck of a luxury junk in Halong Bay, the rich cultures of these neighboring lands offer a wonderful jolt to your senses, a fine way to reset yourself for the year ahead.

New Beginning in India

Taj Mahal, India

India will change you in ways that will broaden your perspective in 2020. Of course, you’ll see the Taj Mahal and explore Delhi. But the exceptional delights of this adventure come from country walks where you meet shepherds and are welcomed into village homes. The markets of Udaipur and Jaipur open your eyes to a world you’ve never seen. This is travel at its transformative best.