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Exhibitors in Focus: Stubborn Mule

We caught up with Liddy, Founder of family tour operator Stubborn Mule Travel, to hear her inspiring story of how this great company started out.

How did your company start out?

Stubborn Mule was first conceived of in the mountains of Northern Laos… The views were just gorgeous, our road descending in long looping bends down to the valley floor, the jungle tumbling down the hills all around us. My daughter was roaring with laughter on the back of my bike, shrieking ‘Hold onnnnnnnnnn’ as we gathered speed, the wind whistling through our helmets on the long descent down the mountain. Exhilarated we reached the bottom and collapsed in a heap in a small bamboo shelter on the side of the road, next to Daddy and brother who this time (and this time only!) had beaten us.

‘That was amazing!’ panted Sam.

‘Let’s do it again,’ gushed Meg.

This was what it was all about; the family, travelling, fun, adventure. My mind began to start whirring; surely other people would enjoy this? Surely this was the kind of family holiday that our friends would like? Stubborn Mule Travel, the idea, was born.

Fast forward several months, noses to the grindstone, and Stubborn Mule Travel became a reality. We have many years’ experience in the travel industry, with contacts all over the world including countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as much of Latin America. We have pulled together a range of really exciting trips that, crucially, are completely 100% family friendly.


What tours do you offer?

Stubborn Mule Travel specialise in 100% tailor-made travel itineraries for families seeking unique and rewarding travel experiences in Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East. Our mission is to enable you to visit wonderful and exciting places with your children. Lots of companies can arrange holidays but very few specialise in putting together holidays-of-a-lifetime for families with children. We do. We have travelled the length and breadth of our destinations looking for activities that your children will love, many of which you could never find in a guidebook or arrange by yourself. 

Using our knowledge and experience of travelling with our own children, we put together exciting itineraries that are exactly matched to the ages and interests of your family. Young children will need a slower pace, plenty of cool-drink stops and the chance to let off steam in a swimming pool or exploring a ramshackle temple. Older children will want adventure and activity and will love exploring sites by bike or soaring through the jungle canopy on zip wires. Whatever the age or interests of your children, we suggest an itinerary that will fit so that you all get the most out of your holiday time.

Our basic philosophy is that exciting travel does not have to stop when you have children, but that you do need to ensure that your itinerary is designed with children in mind. At its most simple, we believe that if the children are happy, the adults will be happy too.

What makes your company unique?

We’ve travelled with our children and have also led lots of family group tours with other people’s families; we know the pitfalls and we know the joys. We know first-hand that children will wilt when visiting the Grand Palace in Bangkok but will perk up with the excellent ice-cream shop at the end. We know that younger children will love Petra all the more if they are given time to explore and play hide and seek in the remote hill-side caves. We know that all children will love riding camels out into the sand-dunes of the Sahara and won’t want to return to a hotel for the night but would prefer to spend the night in a Bedouin tent, even if there aren’t hot showers. We know all of this because we’ve done it ourselves.

We believe that our service is second to none. From the moment that you first make contact, we are committed to ensuring that you get the most you possibly can out of your holiday. Although this is an easy claim to make, here are three examples of ways that we try to go ‘above and beyond’ in our service;

Out of hours call back – Planning a holiday is something that many parents like to do together. We are happy to discuss your holiday in the evening or at the weekend when both parents are home.

Bespoke Itineraries – All of our holidays are tailored specifically to your own family. If you have an aspiring dancer, a keen camper, a budding artist or chef-in-the-making in the family, let us know and we will make suggestions accordingly.

24 hour care – Before you travel we will give you our 24 hour UK emergency number and the local emergency number for your destination. This gives you peace of mind so that you know you have someone to call if there is an emergency.

What new countries and itineraries will you be offering in 2016?
New destinations for Stubborn Mule Travel for 2016 include exciting itineraries in Costa Rica, Zimbabwe and Indonesia. We have also recently added Mongolia and Oman to our website for pre-bookings for next year. We are thrilled to be offering tours in all these places and are looking forward to sending some families on their incredible and adventurous holidays!

Recommend an incredible place to stay.
When our families arrive in Sri Lanka, the first place we suggest people stay is a beautiful converted mansion in the heart of a coconut plantation, with frangipani trees lining the drive, spice trees dotted around the landscaped gardens, polished terracotta floors, antique furnishings and a gorgeous pool. It is the ideal place to recharge the batteries after your flight.

Adults and children alike will enjoy climbing on board a bullock cart to explore the estate, where you can see first-hand how the ubiquitous coconut is grown (and picked).

You could also head for the kitchen and join the chef for a lesson in Sri Lankan cuisine, learning the delicate combination of flavours that produce mouth-watering dishes. Alternatively, assuming that you can pry yourselves away from the pool, we can arrange bicycles so that you can head out into the countryside on peaceful village roads and get an insight into the way of life of rural Sri Lanka. 

Meet the friendly team at Stubborn Mule Travel on stand AP127 at Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show at Olympia London this February!