One of the best perks of homeschooling is being able to travel whenever you like. For our family that usually means traveling when the crowds are not. We have taken trips in January, February, March, May, September and October.
One trip that stands out was for my Aunt Jan’s funeral several years ago. Her passing was significant for me because she was my last aunt and I had already lost all my other aunts and uncles. She actually passed right before Christmas and when I received the call I was sad to hear the news, but not surprised since she was ill for some time before her passing. I was also thinking about how sad I was going to be to miss her funeral. That time of year is crazy for us and it would be close to impossible to get away. I was relieved to hear that the funeral date had not yet been set because she was going to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery and that the cemetery had a waiting list, they were several months behind.
The funeral date was set a few weeks later for late February. I thought this was a perfect time to take my boys to the funeral and to show them Washington D.C. Being that we live on the West Coast meant that I had showed my boys a lot of the west, but very little of the east. Most of our trips revolved around seeing family, which meant traveling to Arizona and Michigan, the two places most of our extended family live.
This funeral was a great opportunity for me to introduce my 16 and 14 year old boys to their eastern relatives. Fortunately they had already met a few relatives at the funeral we held for my mother and father five years before. We spent the first four days in D.C. with family, which was full of reminiscing about the past and catching up on the present happenings. Being with my cousins is cherished time for me and I was grateful to have this opportunity to share it with my boys. After family time we added days to the trip to go sightseeing. We started our “Washington D.C. Educational Trip” with a personal tour by our cousin of the Jefferson and Lincoln Monuments—after hours. In the next several days we also went to the Museum of Tolerance, International Spy Museum, Ford Theatre Museum and the US Bureau of Printing and Engraving. We also toured the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress. We went to the Vietnam Veteran War Memorial and the Korean Veteran War Memorial in the pouring down rain. The Korean Memorial was significant for our family because my father was a veteran of the Korean war and he had shared many stories from his time there. My cousin who took my father to see the memorial after it was installed said he sat on a bench and wept because he always felt like the Korean war was a forgotten war. When his brothers came home from WWII they were heros, when he came home from Korea most people just asked where was he the last couple of years.
Our whole trip was amazing for so many reasons, but the highlight of sightseeing for us was the tour of the White House. The different rooms with all the history and stories were incredibly moving. We also had a visit from President Obama’s dog, Bo, as he ran through the crowd after a walk on the White House lawn. For us it made the President and his family more real and not just a figures we see on TV or in pictures.
If the boys had been in public school, this would have been a hard trip to pull off. Many of my friends have shared how strict the current attendance policies are and I know that taking a week off to sightsee in D.C. may not have gone over well with the school officials. But because I was homeschooling it fit into my plans perfectly. I could not imagine missing out on a family gathering to celebrate the life of someone that meant so much to our family or a better place to teach/show them historical places and to give them insight into our country’s capital and federal government. Public school would frown on the days missed, but I would equally frown on the missed opportunity to connect with family and the missed adventure of traveling to Washington D.C.
I will end with one of our favorite trips to date. We were given an unexpected trip to the Bahamas, paid in full for the family. The trip was for the first 10 days in December. Because we homeschool it was an easy YES! We did so many fun and educational things while there. We swam with Dolphins —science. We visited one of the only pink beaches in the world on Harbour Island — geography & science. We took a tour of the historical Graycliff Inn — history. We toured Graycliff’s cigar and chocolate factory and made chocolate creations together— history & science. We met people that own businesses on the island and heard their stories — social studies. We also met a local artist and took a tour of her art as she explained her journey and thoughts behind her different creations — art.
As I write this I am currently traveling home from a trip to Arizona where we were able to stay a couple of extra days, not possible if the boys were in school. I am filled with gratitude for the ability to create a traveling schedule that works best for our family.
- Feel free to write to us about your favorite homeschool vacation spots. We would love to share with other families great vacation ideas.