My entire world
revolves around the school calendar, so I was elated when it finally (finally!) showed up in the mail.
My family loves to travel. Traveling (and writing about it) is my profession. So I need to know when I can take vacations, and
which days are the best to pull my son out of school for an extended trip. I need all the early dismissal days and seasonal breaks so I can strategize ways to take advantage of a flight deal, one that may require my son to miss a day or two from school.
Even with the calendar in hand, I'm often baffled. For example, why do we
have off on a Monday, but no early dismissal the Friday before? Only to have an early dismissal on a random Wednesday a week later. It can feel impossible to plan
a trip with this kind of schedule, but it isn't. You just have to
get wise to the system.
Here's the best way to squeeze travel into a structured school year:
Weekend trips are easy.
Draw a 200-mile radius on any map and see where you can go within that circle.
You will teach your child geometry and geography all at the same time. Leave
immediately after school and arrive by dinner to enjoy a full
weekend before you are home Sunday night. Make sure you pack the kids' homework, so they can get it done before Monday morning. The car ride is a great
time to get it out of the way. You can check it before bedtime or on the car
2. Long weekend getaways
Look at the school
calendar and talk to your child's teachers. Is a long holiday coming up?
Chances are not much will happen on the Friday before, although always make
sure a test isn't schedule by a cranky teacher who is mad her trip to Bonaire
just got canceled. Pull the kids out for a half day or take the day off. This
works especially well if you have younger children, since they won't miss as much. But remember: feel out the teacher first. Who knows, little Zach might come
down with a "nasty cold" Thursday night so he has to miss school on Friday (or
so your absentee note will say).
3. Winter and spring break
Now is the time to start
thinking about winter and spring break travel. Where do you want to go? How
long do you want to be there? Winter Break is normally over Christmas, a time
that most families want to be with loved ones. If you see your family often, maybe skip celebrating Christmas with them this year and take advantage of
off-season destinations like Europe, which can be cheaper in the winter since not as many people are travel there when it's cold. The Christmas
markets of Vienna and skiing in Switzerland are a great reason to book a cheap flight.
Spring break is different
for many families. It seems to bounce all over the place from year to year.
While one county has spring break in March, another might not have it until April. Take advantage of these spread out breaks by booking a trip to a
destination you have been dreaming of all year. Try to avoid the college party crowd destinations (Mexico, the Caribbean, Florida). Trips to Asia, South America, Africa
and Europe will satisfy your need to escape from the daily grind.
Take it from me, an avid traveler: my kids haven't even
started school for the year and I'm already planning a year's worth of
travel up through next summer. With so few vacation days during the
year, you are almost confined to a corporate level amount of vacation days. So study the school calendar. Get the
dates in your phone for easy reference and start looking for
your next adventure with the kids.