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Family Travel on a Budget = Great Memories!

I’ve been thinking of Paris in December– it’s almost inevitable if you’ve ever been there at that time. There’s no place quite like it, and the delight of walking miles through this compact, beautiful city is unsurpassed.

When we were there, we stayed less than a block from this sparkling intersection, and were less than two blocks from the Seine. We walked everywhere, warming our hands with hot chestnuts from the street vendors (the best ones were from the vendor by BHV on Rue Rivoli).

Parisians decorate lavishly for the holidays, as you can see in the photo, and it’s great fun to walk the streets after dark, visiting temporary outdoor ice rinks at the Eiffel tower and the Hotel de Ville. We enjoyed giant crepes from sidewalk vendors. Our favorites were slathered in butter and sugar, and rolled for easy eating. Quite delectable with a cup of hot chocolate from a cafe!

One of the most enjoyable things you can do with your teens is to take short trips. A brief trip to a very special place is a fun way to celebrate graduation or mark a life milestone, and it’s especially easy to do if you homeschool. Although travel can be expensive, there are things you can do to make it more budget-friendly.

Here are a few things we’ve done to make family travel easy and affordable:

– Travel in the off season- you can peruse travel guides to see when rates jump. When we were in Paris in December, we enjoyed cheap airfare ($212 round trip), and about $70 euros a night for a hotel within a block of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

– Pack light- we have a travel rule of one carry-on size piece of luggage per person for any trip involving an airplane. No one wants to spend their trip being the family porter, and we definitely don’t want to pay for the service!

– Choose lodgings from Rick Steves’ (our favorites) or Let’s Go guides, rather than the guides that cater to a more expensive clientèle.

– Join a hosteling association for great accommodations at an amazing price. We stayed at a beautiful Arts and Crafts-style hostel in Scotland that was within easy distance of lochs and all sorts of interesting places. Many hostels have rooms available for families, and all that we’ve stayed at have kitchens where you can save a bundle by preparing your own food.

– Try to make it to Europe before your children turn eighteen, as most museums are free for anyone 17 and under.

Those are my favorite tips for family travel on a budget. We have wonderful memories of the trips we’ve taken (December always brings back lovely memories of Paris), and travel is always educational. The best time to travel is when all the children are old enough to have memories, but not quite to the age where everyone has work and college schedules to juggle. There will be only a short window of ideal time, so start planning now!

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4 Responses

  1. Lorri says:

    Thanks for this post. We love family travel, especially in Europe!

  2. Krista says:

    Hi janice,

    I love your Everyday Education site, and especially appreciate how you describe the joy of a home centered life: “living, learning and earning”.

    And travel with family is a truly wonderful way to spend time together to discover and explore!

    A Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  3. Hi janice-
    Thanks for your always inspiring website. Do you have any thoughts on homeschooling through a co-op? I have a daughter entering high school next year and she wants the socialization, however, I’m not crazy about public high school. Thanks, Christine

  4. Hi, Christine-

    I think a co-op is a wonderful way to enrich your homeschooling experience. A good co-op usually brings together a lot of gifted moms, and classes can be very well done. It can be fun for your teens to have the academic competition, as well as a better quality social experience than they would find at a public school. A good co-op can make homeschooling through the teen years much easier. I hope you can find one near you!

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