These are lessons your kids might actually love.
Here’s another thing to love about homeschooling: the freedom to travel when you want. Growing up, road trips with the family are honestly the fondest memories that I look back on. And I’m just as excited to be able to create family road trip memories with my sons.
The best part is that because we homeschool, as long as we have space in the car and internet access, we can do school while we travel. Our homeschooling road trips have been both educational and memorable. While not every trip is perfect– a few would make a great comical road trip movie!– I have learned a lot about how to create an educational road trip. Here are tips that any family can use, not just homeschoolers, to turn your family road trip into a learning adventure.
Road Trip Tip 1: Decide your goals, destination, and locations to visit
Become a kid-friendly road trip planner by planning what to see along the way. I can make almost any adventure educational by having my son figure out the mileage per hour to our stopping point (getting in some math), reading the map along the way (geography/social studies) and checking out the landscape at rest stops (science and nature studies).
An educational road trip is a deliberate and focused plan of what to study and how it fits into your curriculum for the year. One of our favorite road trips was driving from Atlanta to Mobile, Alabama for a cruise to Mexico in December. The whole point of the trip was to implement our Spanish studies for the year with cultural experiences. Along the way, we were able to observe the change in climate and discuss how waterways regulate air temperature.
Road Trip Tip 2: Choose the right car/truck/SUV/minivan for your family
An educational road trip only works if you stay focused on learning, and having a car that can also be a classroom is important. Though I have two boys, a minivan was in order for our many road trips. It was idea for us: there is nothing worse than the kids being annoyed by each other, and having their own space cures that. And, a minivan provides plenty of room for our books and other supplies, too.
But as my children have gotten older, we’ve moved into a larger SUV; we don’t need as much trunk space since we’re out of the stroller stage. Our car shopping process was extensive because we were thinking about how we use our car for educational road trips.
Road Trip Tip 3: Make sure your car is serviced and prepared for the road
We live in Georgia but on a road trip to Minnesota, my everyday car tires were not adequate. We needed snow chains to make sure we didn’t slip and slide off the road. Similarly, if you’re headed to a hotter climate like Arizona, make sure to bring along extra coolant and fill up your car before you head out. Make sure to have your car serviced and check everything before you go. Also be sure the car is well equipped and prepared for any trip you take. You definitely don’t want to spend time and money on car repairs during your trip.
Road Trip Tip 4: Have important documents and know the state driving laws along your route
Depending on the state, your child may need to be in particular type of car seat because of their age or size and if you bring the family dog, you may need a pet restraint. If you’re headed through several states and plan to stay in one for a while, be sure to check these laws. You’d hate to receive a ticket AND have to buy a new car seat or dog crate while on the road.
Also always have printed insurance and registration cards. I don’t need to always bring along my insurance and car registration when driving locally because our state has an electronic database. But not every state does. Print out paper copies and know where they are in case of emergency for driving in other states.
Last, consider printing your directions and bringing a paper map. Remember those good old Map Quest days? No one wants to read directions off of a paper, but if you are in an area without cell service you may wish you had printed directions. On a trip to a remote area of Mississippi my cell phone coverage was extremely weak and my car GPS was blocked by the trees. Luckily, we were content to wander around and just observe the area but if we had been on a schedule, it would have caused a problem.
Road Trip Tip 5: Add extra time into your schedule for the unexpected.
From getting lost and taking the wrong road or being stuck in traffic, make sure to build in extra time for your road trip. Educational road trips tend to be scheduled around a specific tour, ticket or meeting time. Don’t miss the whole point of your trip by being late!
Road Trip Tip 6: Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Most importantly, have a good time. An educational road trip should be fun and create memories that your kids will cherish as much as you will. They might even learn a few things along the way!
These are my time, tested tips for educational road trips but I wonder about yours. Do you have any tips I might have missed? Let me know in the comments.