I am so excited about this guest post from Sage at Everyday Wanderer. As you may know, both Henry and I work from home (or wherever the wifi is) and homeschool/worldschool our kids. Not everyone has shaped their lives like this, so I love that Sage talks about traveling and having a home-based life with jobs and school. We think everyone should have the benefits of travel.
Many people suffering from wanderlust dream of quitting their jobs and perpetually traveling the world. But not me. I love my job, and it’s portable. My dream is to convince my daughter to be homeschooled so we can perpetually work and learn from the road. Despite having access to an amazing virtual school that’s already funded by my taxes here in Kansas, my daughter isn’t budging.
Three times a year:
- On New Year’s Day,
- As the school year comes to a close, and
- When the school year starts up again in the fall,
my daughter and I sit down with the school calendar, her competitive dance team schedule, and a long travel bucket list and get busy packing travel adventures into every nook and cranny of the six to twelve months ahead.
These are the tips and tricks that have helped us plan family travel around school, activities, and other obligations.
Planning Family Travel Tip #1 – Plan It Out
If you wait for your life to be perfect before you have children, you’ll never be a parent. The same thing is true when it comes to planning family travel. If you wait for (insert your own long list of reasons) to happen first, you’ll never find the time for family travel. So the first tip is to keep a family calendar and intentionally plan out family travel adventures.
Planning Family Travel Tip #2 – You Do Not Have to Go Far
While I believe everyone can benefit from travel, you do not have to wander far from home to be exposed to something wonderful and new. Whether you live in a bustling city or in a small town, there are plenty of things for your family to do and see without boarding a plane or spending an entire day in the car. Be sure to seize all of the local and day trip adventures you can as you plan family travel.
Planning Family Travel Tip #3 – And You Don’t Have to Spend a Ton of Money
If you have a big fat trust fund or earn as much as Oprah, feel free to skip this tip. But if you’re a hard-working, middle class American like me, it’s important to know that family travel doesn’t require a second mortgage on your home. Did you know that there is never an entrance fee to the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC? Or that the Midwestern city of St. Louis has the second highest number of free museums, attractions, and other things to do after DC? Stretch your travel budget further by road tripping instead of flying. When you’re away from home, take advantage of complimentary hotel breakfasts and visit the local grocery store to purchase picnic items for a few meals instead of always eating out.
Planning Family Travel Tip #4 – Involve Your Kids
Even if your spouse is your soulmate and your kids are chips off of the old block, each member of your family is likely to have a different destination or activity at the top of his or her travel bucket list. So be sure to ask your kids about their interests and do your best to sprinkle them into your family travel plans. When we plan a family trip, each of us creates a prioritized list of what we want to do and see at our destination. Within reason (see Tip #3 about our family’s need to travel on a budget), I make sure that everyone’s number one priority fits into our trip.
Planning Family Travel Tip #5 – Help Your Children Connect the Dots
Spanish-born, Harvard educated, American philosopher George Santayana once said, “A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.” I couldn’t agree more! One of the most important reasons to fit family travel into your household’s hectic schedule is to help your children connect the dots from book learning and classroom lessons to the real world. It’s one thing to read about grits and collard greens in geography class, and another to taste them at a local restaurant in Atlanta. It’s one thing to study the saguaro cactus in science class, and another to look up at the tall, prickly desert giant in Arizona.
Planning Family Travel Tip #6 – It’s OK to Pull Your Child Out of School to Travel
Because of Tip #5, I never hesitate to pull my daughter out of school for travel. Yes, we try to plan travel around school breaks to minimize her absences, but I don’t worry about her being out of the classroom if she’s supplementing her education with me. That said, the opportunity to travel comes with several ground rules. Most importantly, she must be doing well in school. Should her grades ever slip below her ability, it would be “flight canceled” for the rest of the semester. I also expect her to give her teachers plenty of notice of her planned absences and to complete her work in advance of our trip. We recently tacked on three extra days to a week-long school break to visit family in the Southwest, and she had to turn her big semester project in three days before her classmates.
How Does Your Family Plan Travel?
What tips and tricks does your family use to fit travel into a busy household? Is there anything you’d add to this list of family travel tips? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
After growing up living all over the United States and Europe, Sage Scott writes her travel blog with a midlife traveler’s perspective from America’s Heartland. From Kansas City, the Midwestern city affectionately called the Paris of the Plains (and the undisputed Barbeque Capital of the World), Sage shares her experiences and provides helpful travel tips on her blog, Everyday Wanderer.