Lifestyle of Learning on the Family Vacation

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Traveling is a blast! Your kids probably love airports and road trips. Every family vacation is an opportunity to learn, especially if we go somewhere where they speak a different language or we see new sites. Planning a vacation is a life skill that our kids need.

We can be proactive in making our family vacation part of our homeschooling adventure before we even leave the house.  


Research is the first step when parents plan a vacation. After all, we need to find out what there is to do and see when you get there. Include the children in this research. Let them read travel guides and articles. They might want to check out books from the library on the place you are visiting, too.

We like to make a list of all the places we want to see. Often, we have to negotiate with each other to pare down the list. It’s always too long!

Decide how you want to travel. Do you want to relax and experience the flavor of the places you are visiting? Or do you want to pack in as much sightseeing as you can? The answers to these and other questions will determine the plans you make and how you spend your money.

Spend Money Wisely

A great way to teach life skills is to allow kids and teens into the financial planning of a vacation. They often have no idea how much vacationing truly costs. Let them know what kind of budget you have and participate in the decision-making of how the money will be spent.

We like to save as much money as possible so we consider the cost when we choose our destination and the places we will stay. Keep in mind how often you will be in your hotel room or rental house on your vacation.

We stayed in a hostel when I took my daughters to London several years ago. Ten bunk beds filled our room with a drawer underneath the bottom bunk for each bed. It was more cramped than I would have liked, but I knew that we would be gone from early morning to late at night each day so our accommodations were not that important to me.

When I stay at a beach, though, our family likes to rent a roomy condo because we enjoy spending time lying out on the beach or by the pool, but we also spend lots of time inside playing games and watching movies.

Look for Free Places to See & Free Things to Do

When I went to London, I visited the British Museum, National Gallery of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, and other amazing museums which are all free! There are so many free places to see when you travel.

Here are some free places to visit when traveling:

  • USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii 
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, CA
  • Cable Car Museum, San Francisco, CA
  • USS Constitution Museum, Boston, MA
  • Guided Tour of The Freedom Trail, Boston, MA
  • Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC
  • Changing of the Guard at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Washington DC
  • Free Walking Tour of French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta, GA
  • Notre Dame Cathedral (You do have to pay to climb the tower, though.), Paris, France
  • Maison de Victor Hugo (Victor Hugo Museum), Paris, France
  • Versailles Gardens (You have to pay to see the palace, but the gardens are free.), Paris, France
  • Plaza del Toros (Bullfighting Museum), Madrid, Spain
  • Palacio Real, Madrid’s Royal Palace (free on Wednesdays), Madrid, Spain
  • National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  • Leinster House, National Parliament of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  • Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, London, England
  • Tate Modern Museum, London, Museum

Keep in mind that things like hiking, swimming, and window-shopping are almost always free!


Packing for a trip is a life skill that our children can learn when we vacation.

When we head to the beach for a week, we load our van with coolers, suitcases, and beach toys. After all, we drive up to our rental house or condo and unload. It’s super-simple.

However, flying is a different thing altogether. You must lug suitcases from one place to another in the airport and once you reach your destination.

When we landed at Heathrow, we followed our pre-trip plan of taking the tube from the airport. This complicated trip was compounded by each of us carting 1 large suitcase and 2 carry-ons. We hadn’t realized that we would be walking up and down stairs. Our arms felt like they would fall off!

Having said that, if you do travel out of the country with lots of suitcases, be willing to splurge on what is important to you too … like a taxi!

This year, be proactive and teach life skills as you plan and pack for your vacation. Happy Traveling!

Until next time, Happy Homeschooling,


Meredith Curtis


Meredith Curtis, homeschooling mom, writer, speaker, and publisher, loves to encourage families in their homeschooling adventure. She is the author of Celebrate Thanksgiving, Travel God’s World Geography, Travel God’s World Cookbook,  and HIS Story of the 20th Century. You can check out her books, curricula, unit studies, and Bible studies at Read her blogs at and listen to her at Finish Well Podcast.


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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).