One of the most exciting and convenient things about homeschooling is the option to travel during off-season. Not only do you get a bargain on travel costs, the experience is always sure to be rich and full of intense learning opportunities. Our family tends to take trips just before big travel seasons like Spring, Summer and Winter school breaks. This always guarantees us lots of space and quiet locations where we can immerse ourselves in the local happenings.
Typically, when people take holiday they try to schedule relaxing and entertaining events for their stay. But when planning a homeschooling vacation it’s important to decide what type of experience you want your family to have and what types of things you will want them to learn. Although resorts and all inclusive stays are fun and ensure you have access to things most families need, they are not always conducive to teaching your children about the actual life that is lived in that area. So it is important for our family to decide what type of trip we will be having as this will impact where we stay and how we spend our time.
When we are taking homeschooling heavy trips we tend to stay with another family so that way we can really take our time to navigate new culture, food and languages. We have found that these trips work well especially on a budget- if you can visit distant family and friends. Because we have pretty large and diverse families that can be found across North America and into the South Pacific, this is a lot easier for us to do. However, if that is not the case for you- there are a multitude of homeschool families and blogs about World and Road Schooling that can help you make contact with homeschool friendly locations just about anywhere in the world.
Oh Canada! Our first family homeschooling trip was to Niagara Falls. As a novice homeschool traveler, I booked us at the Great Wolf Lodge Resort which had amazing spring rates as it was 40 degrees during the time we went. But the wonderfully warm indoor water park allowed us to escape the misty May to see a spectacular museum or tourist location in the area. My kids were seven and two at the time and still needed lots of kid friendly activities which Great Wolf Lodge certainly provided. At that time in our regular homeschool life, we were usually at parks or museums so I made sure to book us a couple of those events. It was simple and easy and seemingly uneventful overall, but it was our first time trying out airports, long flights, and the processes of getting through customs, rental car transactions and navigating new land to find food. The most memorable parts of the trip were the things that didn’t work so well and those silly and awkward family photos they take of you in line at touristy places. Still, we learned a LOT and it prepared our family for future travel.
Life in the South Pacific
Last year, my family went to the South Pacific and spent some time in Fiji and New Zealand. We were fortunate to spend most of our time in local homes and sprinkle in some touristy resort fun. But it was in the local homes where my children learned about basic life differences that came with things like bathing and sleeping that interested them most. They enjoyed home-cooked meals and shared time with children their age. The laughter they shared lit up the days as they played together in the yard sharing words and comparing their accents with each other. For hours on end they quizzed each other on the alternate names and pronunciations for things around the house. They explored each other’s currency, games and entertainment. Even things like containers for basic grocery products became exciting to examine. Everything around them was new and full of ideas they had never considered. And though we did, spend a pampered day or two at a resort, the most memorable times we had were at the Fijian Farmhouse with the livestock and the wildlife roaming freely around us. Often when we think of learning here in California, we imagine a classroom full of manipulatives and books. But the experience my children had during our time in the South Pacific has had a profound effect on their life and the way they see the world. These experiences have forever changed the way we live and most importantly the way we homeschool. And though I don’t think we will ever be World or Road Schoolers, travel has become an amazing way for our family to connect and enhance our learning.
Laurie Gracia-Alikhan- Editor The Homeschooler Post