Travel Schooling Part 2: How to Afford It!
Don’t miss the first part of this series, Travel Schooling Part 1: How to Get Started
One of the biggest obstacles that stand in the way for almost every family who wants to try travel schooling (a.k.a. road schooling, world schooling, etc) is money. Often, we tend to look at our current budgets and say, “How could we possibly travel more when there’s nothing extra there to travel with?” That’s exactly how I felt too until I learned a few secrets and took the plunge into traveling full-time and travel schooling with my family.
Here are the travel secrets that helped my family shift from “I can’t afford this” to “Where will we go next?”
#1 – Saving money = making money.
If you want to travel more and travel school with your family, whether that means adding a regular field trip to your homeschool schedule, adding an extra week to your summer vacation for a learning experience, heading out on a camping trip for months at a time, or squeezing in an international world schooling adventure, the first secret you need to know is that you don’t have to make more money to make it happen. You can save more instead. Downsize your home. Cancel a membership or two. Put piano lessons on hold. Go from two cars to one. Get rid of cable television. Run outside instead of paying for a gym membership. Rent a small home instead of owning one. Do the math on what you spend the most money on each month and imagine that money in your travel savings account. Even the little things add up quickly, and it’s fun to work together in a big way. If this is your dream, don’t wait to figure out how to afford roadschooling!
#2 – Get out of debt fast.
Debt really isn’t a bad thing. It’s the way most of us are able to buy cars and houses, and it can also help us cover unexpected expenses from time to time. Interest charges, however, can kill the travel dreams of even the most well-intentioned of us. Do the math and see how much interest you’re currently paying on your loans and credit cards. Think about how it would feel to put that money in your pocket every month and use it to travel with your kiddos. It may take some time and a good deal of sacrifice, but getting out of debt will absolutely help you make your travel schooling dreams come true.
#3 – Shift your thinking.
If I could identify the one thing that has held me back from more travel schooling adventures than anything else, it would be the “it costs too much” mindset. Recently, after losing my mom far too early, I looked for ways to get the most out of the days I’m given with my family, and I realized that I had to change this mindset. Since then, I’ve shifted that old mindset into one that serves my family far better. These days, when any family travel opportunity comes my way, I ask myself, “How much is this worth to me?” before I even peek at the price. Then, I can better evaluate if it’s a good fit for us. For instance, when I hear about an outstanding history museum or national park camping trip, I ask myself how much that experience would be worth to us – $100? $200? $1,000? More? Then, when I look at the admission and travel costs, I compare those numbers to the value I assigned the experience. This one shift has made so much of a difference for us, and I know it will for you too.
#4 – Get more bang for your buck.
If going to museums, national parks, aquariums, and zoos is a part of your travel schooling dreams, make sure you’re getting the most out of every dollar you spend there. Here are a few ways we regularly get the most bang for our buck:
- Join museums with reciprocity and enjoy free admission all year to partner museums all over the country. (For more on this, visit the Association of Science and Technology Centers Travel Passport Program page here.)
- Buy a National Park Service Annual Interagency Pass for $80 and get into any national park all year long instead of paying $25 per week for just one park. (For details, visit the National Park Service annual pass page here.)
- Look for homeschool days at museums near you and get discounted admission and special programming.
- Check out state park passes, zoo tickets, and museum admission vouchers at your local library. (Different libraries have different offerings.)
#5 – Get resourceful with games and used books.
When we embark on cross-country travel schooling trips, one of the things we always look for is a good used bookstore and new board games and card games to take along with us. This helps pad the homeschooling budget to make plenty of room for travel schooling and adventure because gameschooling can be way cheaper than fancy online classes and programs and actually helps my kiddos learn more too. For more about game schooling, check out resources from my friend Cait Curley on her gameschooling page here.
#6 – Manage your travel schooling expectations.
The key to affording almost anything – travel schooling included – is to plan ahead for bumps in the road, health challenges, flat tires, and necessary resets. If six years of full-time travel has taught me anything, it’s that no one can run from the regular challenges of life – no matter how far you travel – but when we look ahead and anticipate the unexpected, we will find it much easier to save money for those things rather than going into more debt to cover them.
#7 – Do regular finance check-ins.
Are we spending money on what really counts for our family? This is the question that never fails to help my family choose to afford travel schooling. But when things get sticky financially, looking at this question can feel daunting. In times like those, I find it helpful to check all of my accounts at least weekly. As long as we know the actual numbers we’re dealing with, we can always make better decisions, and we can see more clearly when a reset is in order too. (For more on doing a hard family reset, visit this tip I recently shared with my email group.)
I hope your family will use these seven ways to go from “I can’t afford this” to “Where will we go next?” too.
Want to know more about how to afford travel-schooling?
Celeste Orr is a writer, reader, nonprofit guru, sociology nerd, hiker, sailor, full-time traveling Georgia-born mama to two boys. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and loves all things family travel and adventure related. She is also passionate about helping families choose togetherness and outdoor adventure, even if it means bucking the system and going their own way sometimes. She shares tips and articles to help families in the areas of travel, relationships, and choosing their own path at togethernessredefined.com.