Lately I’ve been getting the same question from people. They ask “How do you travel so much if your daughter attends traditional school?” Lots of families with school aged kids wonder if or when they should take kids out of school to travel. Today I am going to share with you some tips on how to travel with school aged kids and help you decide if kids should miss school to travel.
Know Your School Calendar
The first piece of advice I give people looking to maximize family travel with school aged kids is know your school calendar. Most schools have similar vacation times, but sometimes you may find that your school has a break during the year that other schools do not.
We’ve had some school years where kids didn’t return until January 7 from winter break. That gave us an opportunity to book travel after New Year’s Day and avoid some of the Christmas vacation crowds. Knowing your school calendar and finding these times that don’t perfectly overlap other schools make for great times to plan a family vacation.
It is also helpful to know dates of key events such as school parties or dances. This way you avoid scheduling family vacations during these activities that are important to your kids.
However, sometimes even if you try to avoid significant school events they may pop up last minute. Discuss this possibility with school aged kids before planning travel. I find that special destinations where the kids help plan the itinerary help ease disappointment over missed school activities.
Plan Ahead To Maximize Travel With School Age Kids
Once you know your school’s calendar, consider how you can use scheduled breaks to your advantage. Planning vacations early means you can secure hard-to-get hotels or flights before others even think about booking their family vacations.
Maximize Three-Day Weekends When Traveling With School Aged Kids
There are usually several three-day weekends during the school year. Although three-day weekends make for pretty short family vacations, they provide lots of opportunities for a weekend getaway somewhere special. You can sometimes extend your three-day weekend by flying out after school on the last day before break or by missing one day of school around the three-day weekend.
Take Advantage Of Vacation Options Close To Home
We live just outside of Chicago so I tend to plan a lot of trips to the eastern United States during the school year. I do this because there are lots of interesting places to see within a two-and-a-half hour flight for us. We tend to visit the west coast more over summer and long school breaks.
Traveling close to home is a great way to maximize travel with school aged kids. When you travel close to home you can spend more time exploring a destination than getting to it.
Do Big Family Trips Over Summer Vacation If Possible
We do our big family vacations over the summer. The weather tends to be nicer, and we can travel for longer than during the school year. Planning trips over summer vacation means we can have leisurely family trips and explore areas more fully.
Summer vacations are also a great time to take a road trip with kids. Road trips are a great way to visit multiple places, can be very affordable, and are a flexible option for those who don’t like a strict itinerary.
The best part of planning a long family vacation when kids are not is school is you won’t have a big pile of work when you return home from your trip.
Should Kids Miss School To Travel?
I personally try to avoid missing school to travel with my school aged daughter. I know lots of people that take their kids out of school for extended periods because a parent’s job only allows vacation time then or the trip is only affordable during the school year.
If missing school is your only option to take a family vacation during the school year then do so, but include input from the kids. Consider how missing several days of school will potentially impact your child’s grades. Some kids can do the make up work fine with your assistance. Other kids may struggle with the make-up work. You know what kind of student your child is, and their academic abilities should be a strong consideration when deciding whether to take kids out of school to travel.
When I take kids out of school to travel I try to include an educational component to the vacation. There are lots of ways to learn on vacation like visiting museums, taking walking tours, and spending time at historic sights. Other educational options include real life skills like navigating with maps or understanding a city’s public transit system.
Be Responsible About Completing Make-up Work When Missing School To Travel
Although I try to avoid missing school for family trips sometimes my work requires us to travel outside of set school breaks. I find that being open and respectful of the teacher makes a big difference. My mother-in-law was a teacher for over 30 years and was very honest about how taking kids out of school to travel can make extra work for teachers.
If your child’s teacher goes through the effort to send a make-up work packet, please have your child do the packet promptly. Some teachers will wait until students return to provide make-up work. Regardless of how your teacher provides make-up work, ensure your child completes all the work in a timely fashion.
Completing work on time benefits your student and minimizes inconvenience to the teacher. I find that most teachers are pretty understanding about kids occasionally missing school to travel if you treat them, and the missed work, with respect.
Maximize Travel With School Aged Kids Early In Their Education
It is much easier for a kindergartner to miss school to travel than it is for a child in middle or high school. In class discussions are important in the education process and become more important as your student gets older. Missing these classroom interactions can make understanding a topic more difficult for your student.
End of semester and end of year finals are a big part of older student grades. Missing standardized test can also be especially stressful for students. Missing school days to travel at these times of the school year can be especially challenging for older kids.
Save Money When Traveling With School Aged Kids
Traveling around a school schedule is definitely more expensive than vacationing during the school year. One way we save money when traveling with school aged kids is by traveling to less popular destinations. For example, spring break in Florida is a lot more expensive than going someplace where the weather isn’t as good. Even if the weather is mediocre we find ways to have fun on these less expensive family trips.
Another option to save money is to price a trip where kids might miss one day of school around a scheduled school break. We saved over $1000 by taking a Disney Cruise that got back the day Christmas break ended. Elizabeth only missed one day of school, but we saved a lot of money.
Does Missing School To Travel Have Any Benefits For Kids?
There are lots of articles touting the positive impact travel has on kids. Some of these suggested benefits are improved family relationships, the ability for hands-on learning, better understanding of other cultures, and learning real life skills.
Anecdotally, in our case I have found that Elizabeth has a passion for learning about history that I didn’t share as a child. She often relates what she learns in the classroom with what we have done while traveling. Whenever she discusses topics where her experience and traditional education intersect, her enthusiasm and understanding of concepts is truly inspiring to me.
Final Thoughts On “Should Kids Miss School To Travel?”
Ultimately there is no one correct answer to this question. I think there are certainly times where missing school to travel can be beneficial for kids. However, I think it is important to make your decision to take kids out of school to travel based on your own family.
If your child picks up material quickly, won’t miss key testing dates, and is capable of making up the work without grades suffering I think missing school to travel is fine once and awhile. We find that although our daughter occasionally misses school for special travel opportunities she enjoys trips over school breaks more, especially now that she is in middle school.
What do you think? Should kids miss school to travel?
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