Travel Flexibility: A Home School Dividend

One of the things we really like about home schooling is the flexibility we have with our vacation time. Several years ago my wife and I were in California on business in July and decided to make a quick swing through Yosemite. The crowds were so thick that it was more akin to Manhattan than America’s most famous national park.

Most families are tied to school schedules and have to travel at peak travel times like spring break, Christmas, and summer months. We home schoolers, on the other hand, can go whenever we like (working parents’ schedules permitting, of course). For instance, we try to take the kids snow skiing a time or two each year and usually go in early December or February. Lines are small, as are lift and room rates.

Several years ago, my wife and boys went to Disneyland. Whereas most West Texans who are fortunate to travel west must do so in the summer when it is hot and crowded, my home schooling trio went in mid-December. No crowds, even on the E-tickets. Because rates were lower, they stayed on-site at the Disneyland Hotel. The weather: light jacket in morning, shirtsleeves in afternoon. Except for L.A.’s ever-present smog, it was wonderful.

In three years out of five, we trekked to Six Flags Over Texas around the third week of August. We discovered that at that time most North Texas schools started around mid-August, and for one week after schools began, Six Flags remained open on weekdays. The result was practically no lines, including major rides, all day long. During this week they closed at six, so we arrived at 10 a.m. sharp and went straight to the best rides. One year we rode nearly twenty rides in the first two hours. Imagine riding the “Roaring Rapids” (or whatever they are calling it today) and at the end just staying on and going again! We rode many rides over and over.

Six Flags now has an Air Force jet simulator ride that our boys just loved. We strode right by the sign at the start of the line that indicated one-hour waiting time from that point and walked right in. We did it six times that day! With practically no lines, you can get all you can stand in eight hours. We had a super time. I should direct your attention to the drawbacks to this plan, however. By this time of year most of the music/dance shows and shops have closed for the season. No Batman spectacular. This did not bother us, as we were there to ride rides, but I thought you might want to know.

One year on our way back to Lubbock, we took a day (a weekday, which is important) to canoe ten miles of the Brazos River below Possum Kingdom dam. We rented canoes from an outfitter who has over 200 canoes. He said that on Memorial Day every canoe was in the water. River traffic that weekend must have been gunwale to gunwale (that is “gunnel” for you landlubbers) but not on the late August day we were there. We were the only customers for the entire day! On our five-hour trip we did not see another boat or another person. We had that entire stretch of river to ourselves. Now, that is getting away from it all!

As I get older, I get more allergic to standing in lines. I want to use the precious playtime I have with my family to the fullest. Home schooling allows us to plan our trips for times when crowds are smallest. Prices, too, are often at their lowest, and weather can be at its best.

Travel time flexibility: another wonderful dividend of home schooling.