You may have seen the term “schoolcation” floating around on social media. Maybe it sounds ludicrous to juggle schooling and working while trying to vacation or maybe it sounds ideal to keep your family from going stir crazy in the confines of your own home. Either way, this article will shed some light on what it is really like to take a “schoolcation” and why we consider it a resounding success for our family.
I am a travel advisor, so travel is not only my career, but my passion. The trips that I curate for my clients are always inspiring me to add to my family’s bucket list. I am constantly planning ways for my family to get away. Our family was meant to travel to Spain, Portugal, and Mexico earlier this year, but of course, we have had to reschedule those trips for next year. However, our wanderlust remains, and we needed to do something to satisfy that wanderlust.
How Our ‘Schoolcation’ Came To Be
Since states started opening back up earlier this summer, I have been creating potential itineraries. My boys were on a real National Geographic kick throughout the summer, so many of these itineraries involved travel to the National Parks out west. Our family is based in North Carolina, so I thought it made more sense to go far while we had time on our hands.
Despite my interest in traveling out west, we never made it happen this summer break. When summer started, we were not quite comfortable with straying too far from home. There was too much uncertainty. We were supposed to go to Mexico for my sister’s birthday in June, but we ended up going to the Outer Banks beaches in North Carolina instead. We could have gone out west in July, but our family just really loves beaches and pools, so we opted for the beaches of the Florida panhandle. Then, Florida became a hotspot so we got a little jumpy about travel. After researching the area where we would be visiting, we realized it was a low risk area so we made the trip.
We had such an amazing time on our trip to Florida. We were relieved to see everyone following safety and social distancing protocols. It made us feel more comfortable with traveling because we knew we could do it in a safe and smart way. However, school was starting soon so there was not much time left to do additional traveling this summer. Then, the school made the decision we were expecting (but did not want to admit to ourselves) – our twins’ school year would start virtually.
As soon as the virtual school announcement was made, I knew this was our chance to go out west. My husband is working from home indefinitely, but he still wanted to clear it with his boss. Once she gave the green light, I went to work feverishly planning an itinerary that would allow us to cover a lot of ground and be tourists each weekend while having a good base during the week for work and school.
What was really attractive to me about working and schooling from the room is that my husband would not have to take many vacation days. Even with COVID, we are very intentional with how he uses his vacation days. The stress of our new lifestyle of less socializing and spending so much time at home means we wanted to “vacation” by relaxing and enjoying the beach. Also, my husband’s company is allowing people to roll over a week of vacation next year, so we want to take advantage of that in hopes that there is a vaccine and we can travel like normal next year. And by normal, I mean internationally.
We love international travel and never really consider traveling outside our part of the USA for domestic travel. Before COVID, our most recent trips had been to England, Greece, and Thailand. While I have always had a desire to see the National Parks out west, I never thought of it as a vacation. That is why the ability to work and school our way through the big parks out west was so appealing. We could see a big part of the country without spending too many vacation days.
Our month-long adventure took us to Gateway Arch National Park, Badlands National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park. It was time to discover our own country.
As I have mentioned, I am a travel advisor. I create custom vacations for a living, so planning was not an issue for us. While domestic travel is not what I normally plan for clients, I do have some amazing travel industry partners who help make the job easier. Domestic travel suppliers have been bending over backwards to include more options in their offerings – even RV and home rentals. Thus, if the logistics of organizing your own “schoolcation” seems overwhelming, there are paid professionals who can help you.
Of course, “schoolcations” do not have to be as complicated as our epic road trip. Some resorts are offering “schoolcation” packages and some families have opted to simply find a home away from home to base themselves for a change of scenery.
Whether you want to plan a trip yourself or enlist help, I have gathered some helpful hints based on our experience to help you understand what is involved in implementing a “schoolcation.”