Is Your Summer Travel Crowded?
According to the Family Travel Association, all us of long to disconnect (from digital devices and media) and use travel to:
- Connect multiple generations within our families.
- Experience and learn about nature, history, and diverse cultures.
However, it can be difficult to enjoy these experiences with roughly a third of Americans traveling in the summer months (per Advance-Ohio.com). After all, it’s a convenient time for families in traditional schools with summer breaks. Which is why many view summer as synonymous with travel.
But, how does this track for homeschoolers?
The Flexible “Schoolroom”
As a life-long learner, it’s probably easy to see that learning isn’t confined to time or space. You’re always learning no matter when or where you find yourself. Likewise, homeschooling—though the name might imply otherwise—isn’t an experience that’s confined to the home. Homeschooling is more about a DIY education than it is about where you learn. The truth is: Anywhere you find yourself will do when it comes to learning. Which brings us to back to the topic of travel.
As homeschoolers, we’ve found that the off-season is a great time to travel. We avoid the summer rush to our favorite parks, get “quiet season” pricing for events and accommodations, have an opportunity to experience seasonal variations within a given location, and find we can explore more destinations within the same overall travel budget. Our flexible schoolroom makes it possible to pursue amazing experiences on the cheap!
For example, we’ve visited the rock gardens at Bryce Canyon in May…
The beach in spring with Duncan’s grandparents…
And, Mono Lake in early fall…
However, travel can be more than a collection of amazing experiences. It can be a way to enrichen and deepen learning, too.
A Path to Richer and Deeper Learning
Often, we use travel—whether through a short field trip or extended camping trip—as a hands-on opportunity to investigate a specific learning concept more deeply. For example:
- Duncan has conducted biome studies, comparing similarities and differences between biotic communities in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, a Washington rainforest, a few Pacific Northwest beaches, and the Mono Lake Basin (within the larger Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains study area, but with a unique local microcosm). Among other things (like, exploring food webs), Duncan evaluated plant structures and colors, speculating about the underlying reasons for similarities and differences between plants and plant colors.
- As part of his Earth science studies, Duncan has investigated a collapsed caldera at Newberry Volcanic Monument (near Bend, Oregon) and a nearby lava tube at Lava River Cave. During this particular trip, he classified rocks (e.g., igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) as well, and tested rocks/minerals for their hardness, identifying their place on the Mohs scale. Also, he’s camped at Crater Lake and enjoyed investigating the feature first-hand.
- For astronomy, Duncan has created sundials in different locations (and enjoyed the subtle variations due to longitude and latitude). Additionally, he’s viewed the night sky from a variety of locations west of the Rocky Mountains (with and without a telescope), visited the observatory near Bend, Oregon, for an amazing night viewing through their powerful scope, and has visited the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon on multiple occasions to investigate space craft up close. Finally, he’s visited Barringer Crater (Meteor Crater) a few times—always leaving with a fresh perspective (and usually, a meteorite).
- For cultural studies, Duncan has investigated the cave dwellings at Mesa Verde a few times and would like to return to learn even more about the people that built these amazing places.
These experiences offer something much richer than a text or photo collection can. It’s never the same in books as it is in real life. Our travels allow Duncan to explore, reflect, and learn deeply.
An Idea to Try
If summer travel seems too expensive and overly crowded, consider traveling in the “off months” and turning travel into a DIY educational experience.
In the Comments Below…
Please share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences about travel. Also, when and where have you taken your most memorable vacation?
Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and sharing!
Wishing you many good things,