Everyone wants to head to the beach in the middle of July, or go skiing the last week of December, right? Nope!
Most families simply travel during peak times, because that’s when they can. They are bound by attendance restrictions, unexcused absences, and other commitments revolving around the school calendar.
As a homeschool family, you can travel whenever works for you!! You may have the kids in dance classes, sports, or something else, but you can plan around those classes, or simply miss a week or two. You can schedule your fall break whenever works for you. You don’t have to live according to everyone else’s schedule!
Does that sound good? We’ve got five reasons to travel during the off season, based on our recent experience:
– The beaches are empty….and so are the pools and ski slopes and other attractions! We just returned from a visit to Anna Maria Island, FL. It’s a 7 mile long island with no high rise resorts, and it stays booked almost all year. The beaches are almost always full…except for September. It’s the month that everyone else is in school, and the beginning of many business people’s busy season. This means that we only share the beach and condo building with two or three other groups. These groups are mainly older, and are sunning themselves or sleeping on the beach with a book. There were times last week that we were the only people in the water for a mile on either side! (Hmmmm….maybe I should be writing an article on how to be shark bait….)
– Experience the location….like a local. Ok, so it’s almost impossible to live like a local without being an actual local, but we can see what a location looks like without seeing a mass of people around. Just after my husband and I married, we had the opportunity to visit Scotland, but we had to go the very end of February to the beginning of March. It was definitely not tourist season! However, we dined in restaurants full of locals who talked to us, since we were not a part of a crush of people. We were able to tour Stirling Castle without crowds around us, and we were able to drive on the opposite side of the road without worrying (too much) about dealing with other tourists driving around. Most people visit Scotland in the summer, during many of the Highland Games. Very few get to see Scotland covered in a blanket of snow with the daffodils peaking through! It was an incredible experience, and one of the reasons that later on we chose to begin traveling with the kids during the off-season.
– You spend less time waiting in lines….and traffic. Who wants to go somewhere and spend most of your time sitting in traffic or waiting in line? If you’re traveling during the off-season, you don’t generally have to! Did you know that for most of September, Disney is pretty uncrowded? It’s still open, and many rides you can just walk right up to. Last week, we drove down to St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota to one of the most popular restaurants on the island. I’ve been to St. Armand’s Circle during peak times. It’s all parallel parking and finding a parking spot is terrible, then you generally wait at least half an hour for a table. This time, we parked five spaces from the front door, walked in, and were seated immediately. We ended up eating so quickly that we had time for shopping and visiting an art gallery after lunch. Again, we were the only visitors in the art gallery, and my kids were treated to a personal tour by one of the employees – all because we were there when few others were.
– You can truly meet people. When you are just one of a crush of people, you are just part of a crowd. When you are one of a few, you are able to make a better impression and people are more likely to open up. Last week, we got to know a family on the beach, simply because they were the only other family on the beach. Both families were traveling at a time when you don’t see many families on the beach, so we instantly had something in common. We had a wonderful day with all of us playing together, building sandcastles and swimming. My girls are still talking about the friends they made, and their plans to write to them. We’ve also gotten to know one of the boat captains in Cortez, FL. We’ve been taking our vacation in the off season for 5 years now, and have gone out fishing with him every year. He’s gotten to know us and checks in on how our family is doing and what we’ve got going on. If we were part of his crush of spring and summer traffic, our experience would not be nearly as rich.
– Last, but definitely NOT least, it’s simply cheaper to travel in the off season! We’ve made it a family tradition to visit Anna Maria every year. I lived in the area as a kid, so it’s a little bit like coming home for me, and now it’s become our family’s place to relax. There’s one problem though…we are a one-income family, like most homeschoolers. We simply can’t afford the 2-4K a WEEK that most condos on the beach cost on Anna Maria during the summer. It’s just not a wise move on our part to spend that much when we have much more important needs in our finances. One of the main reasons we first went during the off-season was because it was so much less expensive. We went when the condo rental was cheaper…then began discovering that a lot of other things were less expensive. Our fishing boat trip? Less expensive. Our pool toys? Less expensive or on sale. Our gas? Less expensive. We end up saving more by simply waiting a few weeks to travel.
We get to have the place to ourselves, experience a different perspective, waste less of our travel time, and pay less for the whole experience! What’s not to love about traveling in the off-season?
Have you had a good experience traveling in the off season? Do you have a great travel secret to share with us? Tell us in the comments below!!
While you’re here, make sure you check us out on all of our social media sites!
FREE Planning Pages
Join the newsletter and receive your FREE Printable Year-At-A-Glance Planning Pages!
Join our FREE newsletter!
Join the This Crazy Homeschool Life blog family to get updates, free printables, and more!