We all know it can be lots of fun to travel as a family! It’s fun to have time to spend as a family when we’re not also balancing schoolwork, housework, putting meals on the table, church and community responsibilities, and possibly even a job all at the same time. We want to have uninterrupted time to just enjoy our kids’ company and do things with them.
Yes, we want to spend time with our children when we’re not worried about all our real-life responsibilities, but it’s easy to sneak in some educational opportunities during our family travels too. And they can be lots of fun! In fact, if you don’t tell your children that they’re about to go on an educational family trip, they may not even realize how much they’re learning.
How to Include Learning as Part of Your Family’s Travels
There are many ways to incorporate educational opportunities into your travels! Just look for places to visit that offer something new or something you’ve never researched or studied before! If your children have always lived in a rural area, visit a big city. If they’ve always eaten the food common to your city, state, or part of the country, take them someplace where they can try a completely different kind of food that’s authentic to that area. Better yet, go to a new area and take a cooking class together! Visit museums, go on nature walks, take art classes, and talk to people who live and work in a different environment and different way than people who live in your area. And while you’re traveling to your destination, stop along the way when you see something interesting! Be willing to change your plans and explore when you find something your children are interested in. Make it an adventure!
You’ll also need to decide just how “all in” you want to go with your family travels. Your family can jump right in with both feet and go for a long-term trip, or you can simply take day trips to areas that are close by. Or you can do anything in between! Our homeschools aren’t one-size-fits-all, and our travels shouldn’t be either. You should do whatever works for your family.
World Schooling or Road Schooling
Some families are doing either world schooling or road schooling. These families are regularly incorporating travel into their homeschools.
World schooling allows our children to experience people, places, and events in other countries instead of just reading about them. World schooling families travel the world for weeks, months, or even years at a time.
Other families are road schooling. These families also travel for weeks, months, or years, but they may stay in their own states or within the United States instead of traveling to other countries.
What educational opportunities do world schooling and road schooling offer our children? Lots! (Keep in mind that many of these advantages also apply to those who travel short-term too!)
I love to read and so do my children. We read lots of books about places we may never end up going. Reading provides wonderful opportunities for my children to learn about other people, cultures, and ways of life. But the first time we found out for ourselves how very different it is to experience a place instead of just reading it, we understood that we will probably always have misconceptions about places we’ve never been. We just can’t truly understand them if we haven’t been there for ourselves.
For example, when we read about the Amazon jungles of Peru and the native people who live there, we formed pictures and ideas in our minds of what it would look like and what the people would be like. But when my family traveled there on a mission trip, we found that our ideas and pictures we’d formed in our minds were completely different than what we saw and the people we met when we were there!
We learned little things such as how huge and breathtakingly beautiful the night sky is when you’re in a village that has no electricity and the black night sky can show off millions of stars. We learned how the people—even in primitive, remote areas of the jungle—are a lot like us! We also learned so much about how the people there live, work, eat, and travel on a regular basis. Yes, we do all those things here in the United States. But the way those things are done in Peru is often completely different than the way we do them here. It’s pretty fascinating!
Yes, we learned from the books we read and even a few documentaries we watched, but we learned so very much more when we experienced Peru and its people for ourselves!
Road schooling offers our children the chance to learn about people, places, and events in the United States instead of just reading about them. When my family and I went to New Mexico (on one of our Homeschool Road Trips) last year for the first time, it was truly a learning experience for us! We had never been to that part of the country and, having lived in the South all our lives, it was so much fun to experience a part of the country that is so different!
For example, we knew the air would be drier in New Mexico, and it was fun to compare the difference in the feeling of the temperature of dry air as compared to the temperature of humid air. (Dry air makes cold and hot temperatures feel much more mild as compared to humid air!) We had read about the Southwestern foods that are popular in that state. We had seen pictures of the hot air balloons and the slot canyons and the plants common to New Mexico. We had watched videos showing the Native American dancers and pueblos. We learned a lot about New Mexico before we went. But when we went there for ourselves, it all came to life!
Just to name a few of the educational opportunities we experienced while we were in New Mexico: We went river rafting on the Rio Grande, visited and learned about the history of Taos Pueblo, visited Earthships and learned how homes there are made from mostly recycled and repurposed materials, visited the Puye Cliff Dwellings, hiked the trails at Bandelier National Park, and even went on hot air balloon rides over Albuquerque! Besides all of those activities (plus others), we met families from all over the country who joined us for our trip. It was exciting to meet, travel, and learn together!
Even day trips are an interesting and fun way to travel as a family and experience educational benefits together!
If you can’t travel the world, the United States, or even your own state, why not take day trips around your city or your community? You’ll still experience many of the benefits of travel without the long-term commitment or expense of traveling farther away.
Day trips are often to places such as farms, museums, factories, or government offices. Not only will you enjoy the time (even if it’s not as extended) with your children away from your regular routine, but they’ll learn to see these trips as being fun and rewarding instead of dreading an “educational” trip.
These trips can help your children better understand how clothing is made, how groceries “show up” in the grocery store, or how cars are made. Trips to museums may spark an interest in art or history or science. Studies have even shown that going on field trips increases students’ test scores!
Family travel, whether near or far, has many benefits for parents and children!
It is true that sometimes things go wrong or plans must be altered when we travel. (We look at these as opportunities to teach our children to problem-solve and persevere!) Sometimes it can be difficult spending time together 24/7. Sometimes we (especially those of us who are introverts!) must push ourselves to get out there and go places. But it’s worth it! Whether your family is brand new to educational travel or whether you’ve done it for years, I encourage you to travel together this year and to start planning for the following years! You really will be glad you did it.
Homeschool Road Trips Travel Opportunities
If you’d like to learn more about the educational travel opportunities provided by Hip Homeschool Moms / Homeschool Road Trips, we would love for you to visit our website and follow us on Facebook. This April, we’re taking homeschool families on a trip to Washington, D.C.! Registration is open, so click this link to find out more! (We’ll have to close registration about 6 weeks before the trip begins.)
For more information, please send an email to us at [email protected]. Be sure to put “TRAVEL QUESTION” in the subject line so we’ll see it and respond right away.
In the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing information about three more travel opportunities for homeschool families for 2020 and some for 2021 (including our first international trip)! We can’t wait to meet you and your family on one of our trips!
Wendy is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms, Only Passionate Curiosity, and Love These Recipes. She married her high school sweetheart, Scott, 28 years ago, and they live in the South with their three children. Hannah, age 24, has autism and was the first homeschool graduate in the family. Noah, age 22, was the second homeschool graduate. Mary Grace, age 17, is the remaining homeschool student. Wendy loves working out and teaching Training for Warriors classes at her local gym. She also enjoys learning along with her family, educational travel, reading, and writing, and she attempts to grow an herb garden every summer with limited success.