During the weeks leading up to Christmas, I was hit hard by the desire to ditch the holidays and head out to a sunny destination with my family instead.
Determined to find a last-minute deal, I hit the internet, scouring travel websites for last-minute discounts to my favourite sunny spots, and to my dismay, travel prices during the holiday weeks were more than double the price of warm-weather getaways during the weeks when school was in session.
It didn’t seem worthwhile to splurge substantially on a trip that could have cost half the price, so we waited.
Family travel - especially as a family of five - is not for the frugal. But price isn’t the only reason why I see nothing wrong with missing school in favour of a family vacation.
Travelling during off-peak times allows you to avoid claustrophobic crowds in the more popular destinations, gives you more flexibility on when and where you can go and, most importantly, allows your children to be exposed to new cultures, and life experiences that can’t be taught in the classroom. And for some families who are working with a tight budget, travel during school days is the only option.
While I’m fully on board with pausing classroom education for real-life experiences, some parents believe that missing school for family travel is a bad idea.
In an article shared on Today’s Parent, one parent opposes the idea, stating that, “The classroom is a family and when one family member is gone, it makes a big difference — a group may be split up, a best friend may be alone on the playground or a reading buddy left out. Any way you cut it, when your kiddo is (away) ... we all feel it.”
Disrupting a child’s regular routine, creating a backlog of schoolwork to catch up on, and brushing off strict attendance rules are some of the other reasons listed to support the argument against opting out of school for trips abroad.
Some educators are opposed too, with one school in Buckinghamshire even issuing fines for missing school for family travel without citing an “exceptional circumstance.”
The catch-up may be tedious for the teachers (and our kids, too), but the experiences and much-needed family time are more than worth the extra work.
My 11-year-old will never forget strolling through the ruins of the castle in Heidelberg that was built in 1912, or the first time she tasted Maultaschen in an authentic restaurant in the small town of Baden-Baden, Germany. And my eight-year-old son will always remember counting the coatis and spotting the iguanas strolling along the sand on the beaches of Riviera Maya, Mexico.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a little time off to reconnect with your family, unplug from everyday life, and discover far-away places. If we could afford it, we would do it more often.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her Twitter and Instagram at @bitsofbee.