What Does Quarantine Mean for Travel-Schooling Families?March 24, 2020
A Few Tips from a Travel-Schooling Mom Going Through It with You
Right now, there are hundreds of traveling families scrambling to make a plan for where to live and how to do school and family life during the coronavirus quarantine. With family and homeschool lesson plans for the year hinged on traveling to national parks, museums, and wild places, what can we do now that so many of those options are off the table?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the very best way for all families to protect themselves and their kids from contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to others is to stay home as much as possible. This means that all travel-loving families who still have a traditional brick and stick home are canceling their travel plans and making other plans for homeschool lessons for the next several months. It gets a bit trickier, however, for those traveling families who don’t live in a traditional home. Namely,
How can we stay home when our home is not stationary and campgrounds and camping areas continue to close indefinitely?
The best strategy I’ve heard so far is to find a friend with an empty rental house and stay there until further notice. Offer to pay them what you can, even if that’s just what you would be spending on campgrounds. Stay in your own camper in their driveway if you can, or if you need to stay in the house, be sure to take good care of it. This takes away the stress about finding a laundry facility, running water, and power, and it also gives your family a place to rest and recover from the stress of having your plans canceled.
If you can’t find a friend with an empty rental, reach out to other friends or family members to see if they have a property where you could stay for a few weeks or if you could park in their driveway for a little socially distant moochdocking. As another option, you could contact Harvest Host vendors or Boondockers Welcome participants to see what’s available as well. There’s never been a better time for all of us to help each other, and I think you’ll find people more than willing to help if they can.
My family home is currently a 30-foot Airstream travel trailer. She’s been our primary home since 2013 when we sold our home to try full-time travel and travel-schooling our two boys. This winter, we left her in storage to try a bit of international family travel adventure, but those plans have been canceled and we’re currently staying put in a friend’s rental house in the mountains of North Carolina until the COVID-19 coast is clear. We’ve heard from traveling friends in California, Florida, Montana, and Arizona doing the same and finding people more ready than ever to help displaced travelers. I hope you find your spot and hunker down soon if you haven’t already!
Regardless of where you’re staying during this quarantine period, you’re most likely looking for at least a few good ideas to make the most of your extra family time. Thankfully, so many moms, dads, small businesses, entertainers, and others are stepping up to help.
Here are a few of the best resources I’ve seen so far for those of us staying home and flattening the curve:
1 – Read Alouds
Don’t forget how magical a book read aloud can be, especially in a hard time. Some of us homeschoolers might be tempted to use this weird time where everyone is doing school at home to show how amazing homeschooling really can be so that some of our friends decide to come over to the homeschooling side. If you’re prone to this, I want to give you a free pass. You don’t have to do it. Your kids are probably experiencing just as much stress and uncertainty as you are, and reading aloud can help. Trying to be super-homeschoolers really can’t. If you aren’t yet on the read-aloud bandwagon, Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read-Aloud Family is the book that deeply changed my homeschool a few years ago. It’s a bandwagon I don’t think I’ll ever hop off!
2 – Crafts and handiwork
It’s amazing how much time you can fill with top-notch learning when kids have something to do with their hands. Dig out your art supplies and spread them out as far and as wide as you can. Hop online and order new supplies if you need to as well. We’re doing this handmade mummy project this week and adding ninjas made with Sculpey clay faces to the mix as well. I bet you can find something amazing too!
3 – Outdoor activities
We may not be able to go far right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get outside. In fact, getting outside is extremely good for all of us humans in so many ways, and it’s the absolute best thing for any child’s education. To find a list of free outdoor activities as well as a little bit of inspiration to get your kiddos out the door.
4 – Cool science stuff
If your kids are anything like mine, all it takes for them to forget about something difficult is for me to pull out a cool science experiment or outstanding science video. If your family is into cool videos about the science behind the coronavirus and COVID-19, here’s the best video I’ve found so far. If you’re into documentaries, Curiosity Stream is the best thing around. If you like weird and crazy epic science experiments, you have to check out Mark Rober on YouTube, a former NASA engineer, and king of the glitter bomb who’s doing free science classes during the quarantine. Also, there are loads of lists online for STEM projects with Amazon delivery available for supplies, and KiwiCo subscription boxes can work wonders during this time as well.
5 – Focus on family togetherness
I wasn’t expecting my homeschool to go off the rails last week, but it did. I thought we would carry on with work and school at home as usual, but we couldn’t. As it turns out, we were all a little more stressed about this pandemic than I realized, and the only thing that helped was to turn our hearts toward each other and focus on family togetherness. If you need inspiration for keeping family togetherness your main thing (and a few ideas to make it fun), here’s a page full of articles about how to make deep connections happen in your home.
Finally, my best piece of advice during all of this COVID-19 craziness is to keep your chin up. You may not be able to go on all of the amazing adventures you had planned for this school year right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it amazing. Your kids need you more than any travel adventure, and you can totally get through this. Also, you can keep those travel plans in your pocket and you’ve already got next spring’s lesson plans done, right?!
Stay strong out there – we’re all in this together.
More about the author… Celeste Orr
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.