Which came first, the homeschooling, or the travel miles stashing? That’s a tough call, because one goes so well with the other. In this new series on The Traveling Homeschooler, Edmund Tee shares how with a dash of travel mile collecting, a sprinkle of geographic arbitrage, and a dollop of creative money-making, he and his better half have been able to cook up a homeschooling experience for their two young ones, with an entire planet for their classroom.
If you’re on this site, I know two things about you.
- You know something about using travel miles and points to travel for free or almost-free.
- You know that a flexible schedule is your friend.
That’s great for people who do not have kids, but what about those of us who have a brood?
When you have kids in school, flexibility becomes something less to do with schedules, and more to do with yoga.
For a time, I put up with the tyrannical public school schedule that my wife and I were held hostage to.
But boy, did it rankle. Especially for me.
As a younger man out of the army, then a globetrotting scuba instructor, and finally a marketing consultant, I’ve always loved my life on the road. The freedom, the discoveries, the education, and the lifelong friendships.
And boy did I miss it.
So, four years ago, we revolted against the public school system and started homeschooling our kids. Ok, I revolted, and brought my wife kicking and screaming with me (but that’s a post for another day).
In that time, we have found that the flexibility of homeschooling really was built for a life on the road, especially if you are a travel hacker. Here is why:
You get to stretch your travel miles or points
Most airline award redemptions have a calendar feature that rewards you for being flexible.
If you can adjust your travel schedule, you can either pick a flight that cost fewer travel miles, or pick a departure that still has availability (airlines are notorious for capping redemption capacity).
You get to travel far from the madding crowds
Because we can travel at any time of the year, we pick places and times to avoid a surge in vacationers.
This helps us with award redemption value and availability, of course, but it also means a more pleasant time and better deals once we are on-site since we aren’t competing with hordes of people for transportation and at attractions and restaurants.
Funnily enough, Summer vacations are when we tend to stay put in the Seattle area, partly because we prefer to avoid the crowds, but mostly because the waters and mountains of the Pacific Northwest are breathtakingly beautiful in the Summer!
But once fall comes around and the rest of the country (and Northern Hemisphere) is back at school and work, that’s when we pack our bags and take off.
You get to take advantage of all the best promotions
Airlines, cruise lines, and hotels are always trying to fill those lull periods, and they usually run great promotions to fill those seats, cabins, and rooms up.
When these happen, we pounce on them because we know we can travel any time, anywhere.
For instance, Delta Airlines may be my least favorite loyalty program – there is a reason why its Skymiles are sometimes called SkyPesos – but once in a while, they have a great promotions. I recently snapped up flights for 5,000 SkyMiles and a $5.60 fee from Seattle to Las Vegas, one-way. That was 40,000 SkyMiles and $44.80 for the four of us round-trip.
We’ve also been able to jump on a cruise for less than $60 per person, per day, when our favorite cruise line puts out great offers, such as 3rd and 4th passengers sail free and other sweet deals.
You get to travel for as long as you want
For most travelers, the biggest cost will be GETTING THERE and BACK.
However, we have found that once THERE (wherever that may be), the biggest cost for the trip is already paid for.
The actual cost per day can be pretty low, assuming you aren’t in a hyper pricey city like London or Paris. The cost of traveling within the region by car, train or budget airline would also be a lot more affordable compared to the cost of getting there.
It’s basic math.
If a flight to Barcelona costs 60,000 miles, well, it’s going to cost the same 60,000 miles whether you are there for 7, 14, or 21 days. If you can get good deals on regional travel and lodgings, you’ll be stretching the value of those 60,000 miles if you stay longer.
There’s a reason when many Europeans and Canadians travel, they do so for at least 4 weeks (ok, ok, they also get a lot more vacation days)!
You get the biggest classroom in the world
When you combine homeschool and travel, you get the entire planet for a classroom. Some topics are just perfect for learning on the road – foreign languages, international cultures and history and geology come to mind.
Want to learn Spanish? Immerse yourself in it!
Sure, you could read about the events leading up to the Revolutionary War, or you could actually walk the Freedom Trail and visit the places where the initial skirmishes and battles were fought in Concord, the Battle Road, and Bunker Hill.
Hang on now, don’t you gotta work?
Wait, I hear you say. Don’t you have to work? How do you afford this?
Well, yes. I do work on the road. And travel miles and points help with slashing the costs a ton.
I’ll put up a post about the how I finance all this homeschool traveling in a future blog. Until then, safe travels!