The Ultimate Field Trip

Postcard image with a traveling family on an ocean tripThe Ultimate Field Trip – Traveling!

Travel is the ultimate field trip! It is so educational. Traveling exposes you to new people, places, language, food, culture, and ideas. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. Travel helps us see the long view instead of our shorter, “close-to-home” view. It promotes wonder, curiosity, research and exploration if you let it!

This past week, my husband traveled to Nashville for a professional conference and our youngest and I went along for the ride. We worked and studied for part of each day and then went adventuring. One day we went to Andrew Jackson’s estate, The Hermitage. The next, the Botanical Gardens and Cheekwood Estate. The last day we met family members at the Grand Old Opry and roamed around the amazing gardens. It gave us a lot to think about.

Have Family – Will Travel

Over the past two years, we’ve had the opportunity to visit three presidential residences: Monticello, home to Thomas Jefferson; Mt. Vernon, home to George Washington; and now The Hermitage, home to Andrew Jackson.

Visiting all three presidential estates has given us the opportunity to compare and contrast Presidents; the impact each has had on the country, their attitudes towards the Union, slavery, and marriage. These inexplicably different presidents, each charted the course of this great nation.  Even affecting the way Americans live today. It’s a great history lesson! Our academic lessons are made all the more powerful by seeing where and how they each lived, ran their personal lives and interacted with others.

The Gift of Travel

Having the opportunity to travel has been a gift and one we don’t take lightly! We’ve worked to maximize travelling opportunities as they’ve come up. In the past year, we’ve taken field trips to the Black Hills in SD, St. Louis MO, South Carolina, San Antonio TX, Washington DC, Gettysburg, VA and Nashville, TN. Some of that travel was for our kids’ activities (Bible Bee participation, graduation from Army Basic) and some for work. We’ve visited Monticello, Mt. Vernon, Gettysburg, Mission Conception, State and National sea-side parks, Botanical Gardens in TX and TN, the Arch in St. Louis, Mansions and Colonial homes, the Museum of the Bible (read my review here), Lincoln Memorial and a host of other D.C. Memorials, and the Grand Old Opry. We’ve eaten the best shrimp and grits in TX, fries smothered in gouda cheese in D.C. and superb hamburgers in TN. We’ve been on the look-out for amazing opportunities and experiences and found them!

Of course, that list also represents admissions fees, gas, and other costs. We are fortunate that we are able to write off some expenses for our work. We have also traded admissions fees for blog reviews and asked for the homeschool discounts whenever appropriate. Planning ahead and discovering off-season discounts can also make family travel more affordable. We count these fees as part of our homeschool expenses because they add so much to our children’s education.

Travel is the ultimate field trip...It promotes wonder, curiosity, research and exploration if you let it! Lisa Nehring, author, and administrator at True North Homeschool Academy and Softskills 101 Podcast Show Host. Click To Tweet

Tips for Planning Amazing Family Field Trips

  • Facebook groups provide great opportunities to connect with natives who know their area. I am in a couple of homeschool travel groups and there are always a few people who just got back from where we’re going or someone who lives where we are going in the group. It’s a great way to get a current perspective and get reasonably priced ideas on amazing places to eat!
  • Google – search “Best Sightseeing” in whatever place you plan to visit. I just searched Tampa and came up with various categories: parks, sight-seeing, air-helicopter-balloon rides, shopping, eating, museums, sights, and landmarks, etc.
  • Pick up brochures at area restaurants or cruise through the Airbnb/Vrbo binder wherever you are staying.
  • Ask the locals – whenever we land in a new location, we ask waitresses and other service professionals what the “must-see” and “must-do” opportunities are in any location.

Wherever we go, we do a bit of research and gather everyone’s ideas ahead of time. Because we are all readers, we might have ideas in mind already- historical places we want to visit, or places my husband and I visited as children. We decide how much time and money we have to spend and make a tentative plan for what we want to get done. In the last several years we have often traveled for work and my husband and I have taken turns going places with the children while the other does the work-related stuff.

The World Is Our Classroom

Finding great field trips while traveling, in many ways, gets back to having a sense of what you believe about education. Do you believe that the world is your classroom? If so, you’ll make a point of being curious about the world and want to explore the nooks and crannies. Your preferences and those of your family will differ from mine. Perhaps you are real foodies and are willing to wait in line to experience the most amazing Hunan food in San Francisco, while I am more interested in the Missions along the coast. Of course, one would expect nothing less!

And when I meet you in an on-line group, or at a conference, and we compare notes, we might both broaden our horizons by doing what the other experienced and found fascinating, further enriching our lives through travel!

About the Author: Lisa Nehring hosts the podcast Soft Skills 101: Life Skills for a Digital Age, along with her husband Dr. David Nehring. She is the Director of  True North Homeschool Academy and she and her husband have homeschooled their five kids for the past 27 years. Lisa is passionately committed to resourcing and connecting fellow homeschoolers and Christians with the tools and resources necessary to navigate a complex world in need of a Savior. You can connect with her at the True North Homeschool Tribe on Facebook

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