If you’re a parent, and you’ve debated a vacation, then odds are really good (as in 100%) that schedules and the education of your children have made a big impact on your travel planning. In this blog, I’m sharing the most common pros and cons that I share with my customers when it comes to working around family schedules.
When children are little, it is so much easier to work around their schedules. You simply needed to ensure that there was time for napping during the day. Other than that, their schedules were pretty easy to workaround. As you started into the preschool years it was still quite easy, but as elementary school arrives, I start to see more and more families not wanting to take their children out of school. I think this is the stage that seems to be the first step towards a series of hard decisions. There are many who believe strongly that children should never miss a day of school, that this is where the foundations of education are laid.
But what if instead of learning about sea animals in the classroom, you travel with your children to Hawaii. You will get to snorkel in the ocean exploring the animals under the sea in person. Discover sea turtles up close in the wild. If you’re really lucky, maybe you will even spot a whale as it breaches the surface of the ocean, or dolphins playing alongside your shoreline. Watching spinner dolphins is a real treat as well.
Middle school schedules are starting to get a bit more intense. The extracurricular activities such as club sports, football, swimming or lacrosse, are starting to become much more involved with more hours swallowed up from the schedule each week. Often with these activities, you will now be receiving pressure from the coaches in addition to the school educators.
Junior and Senior High are now leading to a much larger education commitment, where a few days missed can have a bigger impact. Not to mention the even more intense schedules of the extracurriculars or that part-time job your teenagers are now working. I’ve had past clients comment that trying to co-ordinate a family full of schedules for a vacation was more difficult than trying to negotiate a corporate merger.
In the end, you still need to find a pocket in the schedule, or simply create one. Here are the reasons I’ve shared with my customers for creating time in the schedule and taking children out of school.
Everyone else in school.
This may seem counterintuitive, but when it’s a quieter season because others are in school and wrapped up in busy schedules, the crowds are less. You have a better opportunity to get the location, room category or reservations more easily, making travel planning a breeze. While it’s not always about the money, if it’s a slower season, you just might be able to snag yourself a better value on your vacation. That better value may arrive in the form of a reduced rate, or it may also come with included benefits such as included meals, credits or amenities. The best value of all may simply be that when you visit an iconic spot, you can actually see it rather than being shoulder to shoulder with thousands of others.
The downside of traveling while others are not is that it’s possible some attractions may be operating on a modified schedule with shorter hours, or closure dates. If you’re hoping your children will find others to hang out with, there may not be as many for them to join in the fun with during the offseason.
Education through Experience
If you were to think back to the experiences you’ve had over the years, would you say you are more affected by the things you’ve read or the things you’ve experienced? For my children, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have learned so much more by actually experiencing things. By tasting the foods, hearing the sounds of a busy street market in an exotic destination, or sitting quietly while the lions crossed in front of our path in Africa.
Often when I travel, I find myself thinking to myself, “if only I could have experienced this in person in high school, it would have made things make so much more sense”. Walking the living history of Europe, or the scientific marvels of Iceland (where you can actually see the tectonic plates of the Americas and Europe plates meeting – or more accurately pulling away from each other). To have a deeper understanding of cultures from all corners of the world. To try the foods, explore the landscapes and talk to the people. Nothing will beat connecting with locals of another culture as they share stories of their ancestors and breaking bread together.
Time can never be reclaimed.
That’s probably the thought you have when you look at that massive to-do list at the office, but how often do you think that when you look at your children? I remember for many years begging my children to grow up. Those endless nights, never-ending diapers, teething, colds, and more. I used to think that time was standing still. That if they could just talk, walk, help themselves – anything that would let that day end in sleep. Today it seems like all it takes is a blink and yet another year has passed.
Schedules are as hard to work around as you decide they are.
Everyone is busy, I get it. The only thing to consider is that travel planning is never going to get easier. There will come a time when your children have grown up, found a life partner and started their own family. If you think schedules are complicated now, just wait until more people get added to the schedules.
I don’t have an easy answer for the schedule, all I can suggest is that it’s never going to get easier, and if you are held hostage by your schedule, you’re never going to escape the schedule. As a mom who is far too quickly approaching that empty nest, I can tell you, I’ve never regretted making time in the schedule to have an adventure with them. The only regrets I have are the times I didn’t find the time.
No matter if you take your children out of school or if you wait until they are on a break, plan to travel. Give them the best classroom possible – the world!