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3 Reasons to Travel With Your Kids in the Fall

This morning I was searching our Belles network for a Throwback Thursday post.  Thinking about how early school started in Rockford this year and feeling obligated to attempt to inspire anyone who might be willing to take their kids abroad this fall.  I mean some of the most meaningful memories we will make, in our ENTIRE LIFE, were made while traveling internationally with kids! Memories are your Education, literally. So why not Travel with one or more of your kids when they are supposed to be in School!  

Yes – Take Them OUT of School – Really, it’s OK!


Haha – Can you find Rob? This was a typical Sea Day, one of five!

I am sure that deep down in we all know that kids learn WAY more from international travel than they ever will in the classroom.  But society has us so trapped, in that “study in school” dogma, that it is really difficult to break out of it. The system works against you – but there are three good reasons why it is totally worth the trouble!  Read on.

Ballet on a billboard

We had no sooner gotten off the plane in Rome & our daughter had already learned that culture was different!  This billboard was a hint of what was to come… for our daughter the ballerina.

My girlfriend was just telling me on Sunday that her son had missed something on an exam that was about Chinese Culture…  She said that she consoled him by telling him that he would probably never need to know that anyway….  I guess she is right because they aren’t traveling with him any time soon – because he has to be IN school (their rule).  The sad part is – I know the kid – and learning in the world would be so much easier for him.  And Seriously?? Cultural sensitivity is among the MOST important things we ALL need to know.  But even if it wasn’t, Culture is really interesting!

We had been in Rome for several hours when our daughter says “Mommy – these guys – they’re fashionable and they’re not even Gay” Not that she has anything against gays, and she was only 15.  But understandably, she is frustrated by the fashionable gay dancers that she knows and loves that are so “not available” to her….  She loves their fashion sense and wishes to find a straight guy just like them!  I think she concluded that when she grows up, she wants to live in Europe!

check your schools attendance policy before taking your kids to see the students protesting in Rome

In Rome we saw a group of students protesting. We were told that it had been proposed that College would no longer be FREE and the students were UPSET! I guess students really have been taught that they need school to learn and to be successful!!

I totally understand how my friend’s son could miss something on a paper exam, if all he did was read about it in a paper book, talk about it in class, or maybe they even watched a movie!! Then he was required to memorize the data…. I will bet you anything that if they had traveled to China he would have learned all that trivia and so much more!!

funchal portugal school children attendance-policy

Even when you are casually moving, from one place to another, when traveling, you are constantly learning! I think it took our daughter about two seconds to notice that school children in Funchal Portugal are segregated!  Would this question have been on a test?

Even if you don’t commit the full travel experience to memory, the Family Memory Photo Album will be packed full of pictures to refer back to!  My friend’s son or anyone’s son would have met friends on the journey. They would continue to learn from their friends.  Because we are now – all connected in this big beautiful world that we live in!  I wish she were willing to consider traveling with her son….  I just know he would learn loads!

In the 2008 / 2009 School year Rob made a mistake.  Rob thought that he was booking in one year, and then the next.  But he scheduled two Cruise Vacations in the same school year.  They were both so amazing that even after discovering the error we were committed to going anyway.

Reason #1

Fall has the Best Pricing ALL Year!

We couldn’t believe the price of our trip – it was almost too good to be true!

Our daughter would miss 15-20 days twice during her Sophomore year of “Gifted Program” High School!  OMG – that in itself is almost a crime according to society and our districts attendance policy! But being the creative people that we are, we didn’t worry.  We just worked out all the details in advance.  We enrolled our daughter in dual credit online English at a local Community College.  It counted for a whole year of English credit in our district, and she could do the work from anywhere in the world.  We hired a retired math teacher to teach her the Math chapter that she would miss before we left.  We made sure to monitor all her work so that nothing was forgotten during the trip. We learned that the best way to clear a deck on a Cruise Ship is to have your child read Shakespeare out loud! (the only way we would know she was truly reading it) If I could give you one piece of advice it would be:

Get online or call to check your school attendance policy!

Plan everything out in advance. Talk to the teachers, principal and superintendent as needed.   Look for my hashtags in Social Media – this is what #shipschool means!

You will have to learn about our second trip from Santiago Chile to Los Angeles in another Thursday post – because it would make this one way too long!!  Here is one pic of unique architecture, just to tease you a little!  Stay tuned by subscribing in the upper right corner of the page.

dirt floor coffee shop

On the way to the ship the bus stopped at a dirt floor coffee shop near Santiago so that we could get coffee – after all we had been flying all night.  For the record this would be illegal in the United States per building code, Architects are amused by this.

The first trip that we planned was in the fall of 2008.

We would fly to Rome Italy, and cruise back to the United States.  The itinerary included Embarkation in Rome, then Palma De Mallorca Spain, Malaga Spain, Barcelona Spain, Funchal Portugal, 5 Days at Sea, St Martin – Netherlands Antilles, than Miami Florida.  I will share some pics in this post from our arsenal of memories shot during our amazing sail on the Carnival Splendor’s maiden voyage across the Atlantic.  Enjoy our Photo Memory Book – Beginning here:

Rome italy

Waiting for the hotel shuttle bus at the pick up place in Rome!  We flew in two days before Embarkation.

The gardens overlooking the roman forum

We climbed to the Orti Farnesiani sul Palatino, the Gardens of Ancient Rome where we would have the best view of the Roman Forum, Ancient Rome – which is by our daughter’s own decree the most memorable moment of the trip.

Flavian Amphitheatre

Of course we visited the most famous ancient architecture Flavian Amphitheatre better known as The Colosseum!

I actually doubt if she memorized any of the dates….  but it didn’t matter because there was NO TEST.  But maybe she got something valuable out of the experience.  Her Social Studies teacher was actually the strongest objector! Did I mention that you should check your school attendance policy long before you depart?

(No – I didn’t say “ask them” if you can go)

The Colosseum in Rome italy

“Mama – take my picture in here”!

The Colosseum in Rome

“Also here so no one can see my boot”! Such a cutie and trooper! She had a stress fracture from dancing ballet, but hobbled all over anyway.  What is your excuse?

My young photographer

After a while it became a problem to take a picture of her! Memories like this are GREAT too! We could see that she was FASCINATED by everything in Palma de Mallorca Spain!

Royal Palace of La Almudaina - Palma de Mallorca Spain

I mean when you are inside the Royal Palace of La Almudaina – you definitely want to shoot what you see!  I am absolutely sure she learned how to take pics with her Sony Camera!  That’s important in this digital world we live in!

I am sure that other people have a better idea of just exactly what she learned on the trip than I do.  She tells them all about it in job interviews and written work for school assignments.  They even ask her things like “where did you get that photo?” to which she replies “I took it!”

Gargoyle on the Palma Cathedral

Maybe some of you remember seeing a hand sketch of this Gargoyle on one of our Annual Architectural Calendars. A gargoyle is a spout in the form of a grotesque human or animal figure projecting from a roof gutter to throw rainwater clear of a building! And you thought it was just decoration…..  omg – you just learned something from OUR travel!

In Malaga Spain we hired a taxi to take us up to the Castillo de Gibralfaro – where we knew there would be a breathtaking view!

view of Malaga spain

Once we made it to the top of Castillo de Gibralfaro this is what we saw!  But wait on the other side….

bridge to a turret

This bridge led out to another turret!

The Fairy Land in Malaga Spain

I got the feeling if we sat very still we would actually see real “Fairies” in this forest….

Yes, this is like a real life fairy tale – our daughter has a job as a “Fairy Princess” where she has to make up stories, to tell children, on the fly!  She uses these images that are in her mind….. to earn tips!  This is real valuable stuff!

Susan in Malaga Spain

The over cast day was chilly. It was October and she was supposed to be in school at Auburn High School in Rockford.

During the course of our preparation for the trip our School District actually threatened to drop her from the attendance role because we would be gone for more than 14 days.  But we went to the Superintendent at the Regional Office of Education with our unique challenge and our detailed plans.  He said that if her “drop papers” landed on his desk he would throw them swiftly in the GARBAGE!  Mysteriously the next day we received a call from the district superintendent to say that our daughter’s absence had been approved.  Don’t forget to check your school attendance policy way ahead of time… But don’t ask them if you can go – Just do it!

The only trip you will ever regret is the one you don’t take…..

malaga Spain

I mean Malaga Spain vs. Chicago – almost the same Right?

I still can’t believe that the Social Studies teacher was the ONLY one with a strong objection.  If you had to categorize what you learn from Travel a whole boat load of it would land in Social Studies.  Don’t you think?

La Pedrera in Barcelona

All we did in Barcelona Spain was look at Gaudi Architecture! This one has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984!

Is it ART? or Architecture? or Both? It must be noteworthy or it would not be protected by UNESCO!

the courtyard of La Pedrera

I am sure she would have rather been with her friends at school than posing for a pic in the Courtyard of La Pedrera!

We took a subway train up to see the La Sagrada Família Cathedral by Gaudi.  We stopped for lunch at a small family Bar / Cafe where the server brought us a bottle of wine and three glasses before we even ordered it.  We believe it is proper to teach your children to consume alcohol responsibly, and at the right time and place.  We do not believe that there is a magic age where this naturally takes place.  Maybe you agree…..

Sagrada Família

La Sagrada Família Cathedral by Gaudi was not yet complete! This work of art has now been underway for 133 years!

There is a stone carving plant at grade level on one of the corners..  Architects are fascinated by this stuff!  We got to see all sides of the building exterior while waiting in line to walk through!

Sagrada Família Cathedral by Gaudi

The strikingly beautiful stained glass was definitely worth the wait! Can you think of anything our daughter may have learned?

a Sculpture in Barcelona Spain

Just an example of your average street art in Barcelona Spain… “Until next time”, we said as we returned to our Ship the Carnival Splendor!

We enjoyed a day at sea while we passed through the Strait of Gibraltar – all the while looking for the iconic “Rock of Gibraltar” from the Prudential Insurance Company Logo!  What we did was VERY similar to this map, but not exactly.

transatlantic cruise

Of course Geography isn’t in the traditional High School Curriculum so that was kind of a waste.

Funchal Portugal Wine Shop

I know for a fact that she cautiously learned how to drink wine again in Funchal Portugal….  Look at that look!!  The next time she would be offered wine was on the plane to the Royal Danish Ballet a few years later – when she was 17 traveling with two friends.  Yeah that was a whole different circumstance 🙂  “Yes please” they said.

I am sure that they all acted like responsible adults…  After all this was NOT the forbidden fruit!

florist in funchal portugal

In Funchal Portugal you could pick up some fresh flowers on your way home at this sidewalk flower shop.

A Church in Funchal Portugal

And we had to go into ANOTHER Church because we go into all of them!  They are all different!  Imagine that!

We sailed away from Funchal – knowing that we would have five days before seeing land again.  Just like Columbus did!  But we would have plenty of time to rest and finish up the required school work.  We had lost 6 hours of time flying over to Europe and during the trek across the Atlantic Ocean we would be given back one hour each day.  It was really cool intangible thing to experience.

Something that it’s actually not possible to learn in school.

The three of us made it to the Piano Bar each night and then also to Breakfast in the Formal Dining Room in a well rested state.

Greg Gallello Pianoman

It was here that we first met Greg Gallello who was performing in the Piano Bar under one of his very first cruise ship contracts. We enjoyed listening to him almost every night! Last year we organized a Fan Club Cruise during his current contract with Holland America Line!

Reason #2

There are almost NO other kids and your’s will get special treatment!

There was only one other teen on the ship.  A handsome boy from El Salvador!  They would meet in the teen lounge where the Teen Director from the Philippines, would allow them use of his internet minutes to turn in homework and do a little face-booking I suspect.  As long as they both showed up the teen director was allowed to take them anywhere on the ship to entertain them!

Max Aguirre

Thanks to Facebook we kept in touch and know that he just graduated from the University of Louisiana as an Engineer! We are really proud of him!

We had dinner with his family one night and we still talk with his mother, once in a while.  Each night in the Dining Room we would chat with the folks that were seated near us who were traveling with their little boy.  I think that makes the child count on the ship 3.

Robbie the Pirate

Looking back I think we were seated in the kids section at the perimeter of the Dining Room. What a Cutie Pie! Our daughter especially enjoyed him.

One night his parents broke out in dance with the Dining Room Staff!

Bob and Debbie

A few years later they, moved to China with their son and we get a newsletter from them each Christmas!  They wanted him to learn fluent Chinese!

We enjoyed all of our new friends on the ship and the five days of rest and relaxation.  Our daughter got all her school work done.  It just isn’t true that our kids MUST be IN school every day.  After our five sea days we woke up at St Martin Netherlands Antilles!  This is a Caribbean Island that is shared between the French and the Dutch.  In celebration of our completed voyage we went to the Beach.  I did a post just about our day there a while back.  Read it HERE.

St Martin Netherland Antilies

One Beach Day was all we needed.  Kind of like a day off from #shipschool

As it happened we were waiting for a taxi and

making a flower chain

Someone taught her how to make a flower chain – so I guess she learned something after all.

third world beach dog

The last friend she made on our voyage was a Beach Dog.  He hung out with her almost all day!

I hope you enjoyed our throwback Thursday Post – but most of all I hope you are inspired to go ahead – take your kids out of school for International Travel!  Take them to #ShipSchool because the regular school will be there when they get back and you ALL deserve the real memories!

Reason #3

Because you believe in it!

Because you know that it is YOUR responsibility to educate your children.  You also know the value of learning by doing.  You understand that when you travel you experience how others live within their culture and become unified with the human race.  You want to raise a culturally sensitive son or daughter just like we did.

Oh, and, in case you are wondering….

As of today – Our daughter is 23.  She never officially completed high school but has a GED.  She has about 20 College Credits and a 4.0 GPA.  She has completed the classroom portion of her Montessori Teacher Certification, because Montessori teaches kids to learn, something she really believes in. She was selected by the most prestigious Montessori School in the nation to do her “practicum” in this coming school year.  She receives a response from 100% of the resumes that she delivers.  She is choosing a Teacher Assistant job from about 4 different offers.  She is leaps and bounds ahead conversationally of college grads her age.  She lives in Chicago, where she is the President of her condo association board.  We are pretty proud of her!

We know without a doubt that – If we just teach our kids to learn we never have to teach them anything again!!

Making School just a little unnecessary…..

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