Travel-Schooling | How My Family Experiences the World And Homeschools Along The Way

Travel-Schooling | How My Family Experiences the World And Homeschools Along The Way

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you have the flexibility and freedom to travel any time of the year, and not just during school breaks.

Over the past 10 years, my husband and I have traveled with our kids to most of the states in the US, Puerto Rico, as well as Mexico and Canada; and in just a few days we leave for our biggest trip yet– five weeks in Southern Europe! My husband works remotely and can work anywhere in the US, but not outside the country. So although we travel a lot during the year, I wouldn’t consider us “world schoolers” or “road schoolers” because we are at home most of the year. Hence “travel schoolers” 🙂 For the upcoming trip we are using his PTO that we saved after our youngest was born last July.

We’ve learned a lot traveling long-term with kids and have perfected a daily rhythm and learning method that works well for a family traveling and homeschooling, and that’s what I’m sharing in this post today. I’m also talking about it in a YouTube video, if you’d rather watch (as a bonus I give even more book recommendations in the video!).

Preparing for Trip

Before we leave for a region or country we look at the pages in Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska. We look at the geography, famous people, architecture, animals, culture, and food. Then we find books about those things and start studying! I encourage my kids to ask questions as we study and find more books or watch YouTube videos together (like how certain foods are made, dances, celebrations, etc).

Some of favorite book series for this are

  • Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels
  • Wonders of the World Series by Elizabeth Mann
  • David Macaulay’s books (Cathedral, Castle, Mosque, Pyramid)
  • Biographies by Diane Stanley
  • Biographies by Demi

We study a map of the region and I asked the boys map questions to help them get get a sense of the geography. The cities and the route that will be taking. We also watch documentaries, like Europe From Above on Disney+.

A fun thing to do for older kids and teens is for each one to pick a site and be a “tour guide” while there. They must study the history, layout, and other facts before going, as well as anticipate questions family members might ask. They write down notes and  bring them along to share while giving us a tour.

Daily Rhythm

The biggest thing we’ve learned is that you need to have a flexible plan. If it’s too structured every one is stressed, but if you don’t have a plan you end up being asked a million times a day “what are we doing next?” (Which you may be asked anyway, but at least you have an answer) or finding out a site is closed or sold out. So we do research and buy tickets beforehand.

We plan on site tours and museums during the morning when kids are fresh. We have an American Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) which gets us into most science museums around the US (and many around the world!). This is such a cost effective way to explore science centers/museums wherever you go. 

After a morning of learning and exploring we eat out at a restaurant for lunch. We hardly ever eat out for dinner because:

  1. More expensive 
  2. Kids are exhausted and grumpy
  3. Usually takes longer

After lunch we find an outdoor place to play and explore so the kids can get their energy out. A city park, state park, nature park, anything! We prefer something that is unique to the region so we can see native flora and fauna. 

After the kids are exhausted from playing we go back home for some quiet time. If we have babies or toddlers this is naptime. If we’re in the US, my husband works in the afternoon to save PTO and my school-age kids do some light schoolwork. If there is a evening event we might go out again, but more likely we make a light dinner and play games as a family.

Learning While There 

Except for math we don’t do “lessons” while traveling. We bring a computer to do 1-2  lessons in CTC Math every day (Khan Academy works, too). Here’s what our traveling school looks like:

While visiting a museum or historical site my boys use my camera to take pictures of artifacts (as long as it’s allowed), flora/fauna while hiking, or sketch architecture. Alternatively you can take photos to sketch later. 

If we don’t want to pay for a human tour guide, we usually buy and download a location-based audio tours on our phone and let that guide and teach us while we drive or walk around. We’ve used this for most of the National Parks we’ve visited and I can’t recommend it enough! They share historical stories, facts about geography and nature, as well as tips for families and if you are in a time crunch. Here is the one we’ve used for US National Parks: Guide Along. Rick Steves is a good option for international travel.

When we get back to our hotel or Airbnb in the afternoon the boys Journal about what we learned that day. Pretty much narrate what we did and what they learned. Things also good chance to write down questions they had and look up answers. I have them write on one page and draw pictures on the other. They can reference pictures they took earlier that day. 

Work on presentation. For every trip my older boys are required to create a PowerPoint presentation or video of their travels. They can do it when we get back and use their journals as reference, or they can do it daily. They usually prefer daily and enjoy uploading pictures and typing captions. When we get home they give their presentation to family and friends. 

Listen to an audiobook or read aloud. Historical fiction or story of the area you’re visiting is fun. For example, we read aloud “Treasure Island” while traveling in Puerto Rico for two weeks. It brought the book alive! 

Play simple games. We bring dice and cards to play a variety of games in the evening, like “Greedy” and “Scum.” This is a good chance to bond as a family and relieve stress from the day.

And that’s it! I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more from our 5-week trip to Europe, I may have to make a new post detailing what went well and what we’ll do differently.

Do you travel and homeschool? Where have you been and how do you learn along the way? Share in the comments!

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