How to Plan Your Best Homeschool Planning Trip
A homeschool planning trip might not even be on your radar, but I have been doing a planning trip every January for the past few years and I have found it to be a highlight of my year. So I want to share with you why it’s a good idea and how to go about planning one.
And if you think it’s not in your budget, don’t click away yet! A homeschool planning trip could just be a “trip” to your local coffee shop. I’ll share some creative ideas for those whose budgets need some extra care.
Why Plan a Homeschool Planning Trip
Seems a little extravagant, right? I mean, who needs to literally get out of town just to plan their homeschooling?
Um, anyone who can relate to multiple disruptions during any given 15-minute period! (Like me trying to write this blog post!) Or anyone who has a list of undone to-dos that is more like a wish list staring them in the face daily. Or anyone who simply feels a successful day is feeding everyone and keeping them alive.
Mama, you need a break! Homeschool planning can take a lot of focus. And you, my friend, do not have any of that left after all those normal, daily disruptions…as lovable as some of those “disruptions” are.
How to Plan a Homeschool Planning Trip
You might think if you don’t have time to plan your homeschool, how in the world would you have time to plan a homeschool planning trip. Well, that part does not have to be too hard. And remember, the whole goal is to help give you the type of environment that will help you to effectively plan without disruption and stress.
This planning trip is not just to plan, but also to help you decompress so you can come back and implement those plans refreshed and ready to jump back into all the chaos!
So, here are some considerations before we get into the nitty-gritty of planning your homeschool planning trip:
1. How much is your budget? Your budget will affect where you can go and how long you can stay.
2. What time of year will you go? Do you typically plan in the fall or at the start of a new calendar year? Or a little of both? Consider the budget when deciding, as well.
3. Who will go with you? Will this be a trip all by yourself, or will you take a friend or two? Consider interruptions and what your expectations are. Will your friend see it as just a fun trip, or will she be just as eager to get things done?
4. What do you hope to accomplish? Your expectations here depend on how long you can go and whether or not you bring chatty friends!
Once you’ve answered these questions (write down your answers, if it helps you collect your thoughts), you can then make some solid homeschool planing trip plans! Here are some ideas…
Destinations for Your Homeschool Planning Trip
Consider the time of year you will be traveling. Does the beach make more sense, or the mountains? What brings you the most peace? Will you want to have the option to take walks for breaks, or go shopping someplace nice?
Much of this also comes down to budget, but if you are really hoping to get out of town for a good length of time and to someplace nice, consider setting aside a certain amount each week. If you set aside just $10 a week, you would have $520. Even $5 a week would get you a couple days somewhere.
If you are taking someone (or “some-two”) along, get their input, of course! And consider the fact that they are also contributing to the funds, so you may be able to spend a little more.
For the past two years, I’ve actually gone to Myrtle Beach and stayed in a room with an ocean view. We have the advantage of owning a timeshare, so I don’t have to consider expense for the actual location, just the drive itself and whatever food I may buy.
But Myrtle Beach is not too expensive for the average person, either, and if you go at the beginning of the year, it is very quiet and subdued rather than the party atmosphere it has during the summer months.
If your budget is really tight, it’s time to get creative! Consider these options:
- AirBnB – You can find some great deals on places that might even be in your own city or very close by! This is also a good option for those who may have special needs in their family that could require them to return quickly.
- A friend’s guest room – One fun and VERY budget-friendly trip I took with a friend a few years ago was actually only about 40 minutes away, and it was in the guest room of an acquaintance from Facebook, of all things! We had posted on Facebook, asking for recommendations, and this friend reached out and offered her guest room. I had been friends with this lady online for long enough to know she was a solid Christian who loved the Lord, so I was completely comfortable with the idea, and it ended up being such a blessing meeting in person and getting to know her better!
- A relative’s home – I have been known to travel two hours away to my parent’s house for a weekend trip to get things done. Nothing like having Mom and Dad cook your meals and clean up after! And then we get to spend the evenings playing games or watching something on TV together.
- A Candle in the Window – This is a network of Christians who open their homes for hosting. You can only stay for a couple nights (at least, that’s what’s recommended), but this can be a very budget-friendly option for a quick trip. The yearly fee is very affordable.
- A coffee shop or cafe – No, don’t bring a tent with you. 😉 But why not turn your “trip” into an all-day planning session at a nearby coffee shop or cafe? Budget for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and even consider hopping around if you need a change of scenery (or if they don’t serve dinner, for example). You’ll be surprised how much you can get done in one solid day of planning, interruption-free! And the shortened time may make you work even harder to use the time wisely. You could even do this two or three days in a row, going home to sleep, throw in a load of laundry, and make sure everyone is still alive. 😉
- House or pet sit – Now, this is an outside-the-box idea! (Do you expect less from me? 😂) Did you know there are actually websites that connect those wanting to travel and stay somewhere free to those who need their pets or homes watched while they are away? For some sites, there is a small yearly membership fee, but this can be an amazing option if you have a very tight budget and don’t mind potentially walking a dog or feeding a cat! (Sounds like a benefit to me!) Here are a few options:
If you have a larger budget, you can think of fun getaways a day’s drive out of state or even a plane trip away. For higher budgets, you may consider these options:
- A resort – This might sound like a dream to many, but it doesn’t have to be really expensive. You can even find timeshare rentals for a really good price! (Check out this group on Facebook for renting Bluegreen timeshares, but be sure to read this post to avoid scams. You can also contact me through my contact page and I might be able to hook you up, as I often have extra points to sell. 😉 ) Since you will be mostly staying in, consider how comfortable and stress-relieving the furnishings and other site amenities will be and going in the off-season is a great idea to keep things in budget.
- Travel agent – Take some of the stress of planning off you by enlisting the help of a travel agent. They are good at finding deals!
Keep in mind the fact that if you go somewhere with a lot to see and do you may be tempted to see and do too much, turning your planning trip into a genuine vacation! Hmmm…maybe that’s not so bad for a burned out homeschooling mom. 😁 But it does defeat the purpose if you really need to plan!
Goals for Your Homeschool Planning Trip
Be realistic with your goals. If you are only going away for two days, don’t expect to plan out a daily schedule for each child for the entire year! That’s not going to happen. In my experience, if I set small goals and keep them simple, I end up much happier by the end of the trip!
Also, if you are bringing a friend, you may need to set your expectations lower. Depending on the friend, you may end up taking more breaks or simply being interrupted more. These days, I really enjoy the peace and quiet of being totally alone, but I used to bring a close friend on these trips with me and it worked out well! We both knew how to buckle down and work, and we’d spend hours staring at our computer screens and barely saying a word.
On one trip, we brought along another friend (who happened to be a big talker) for just a day, and I’ll never forget how we all chatted a bit, and then “Friend A” and I started clicking away silently on our keyboards without so much as a glance upward, thinking nothing of our standard “work mode.” Friend B suddenly burst out laughing at us!
Honestly, we didn’t get much done that day, but it is a treasured memory, as that second friend passed away just a couple years later. Sometimes it’s worth being a little distracted.
Also, consider goals in relation to your destination. If you’re going somewhere really cool, are you going to want to spend a day sightseeing and just relaxing a bit? It’s not a bad idea to break up a trip with a little fun in between! If it makes you feel too guilty to have fun by yourself, you can call it a “reconnaissance” trip and check out all the potential educational activities to bring your kids back to later. 😉
Here are some ideas for goals:
- Plan out the curriculum to use for each child
- Finish filling out the Lifeschooling Vision Planner for your family
- Pray for each child and get a good overall vision for the year
- Decide what (if any) extracurricular activities the children will be involved in
- Plan out the field trips you want to take this year
- Research new recipes and meal ideas (consider things you can cook in bulk and freeze)
Here’s a little peak into my January, 2024 Homeschool Planning Trip. (Pretend I have makeup on and look like I actually take care of myself.)
Preparing for Your Homeschool Planning Trip
By the time you start packing and preparing for your trip, you may start to wonder if it’s really worth all this fuss! Your kids are whining, your husband suddenly can’t find anything in the refrigerator (no, wait…nothing’s changed there), and your youngest child breaks his leg (true story).
Guess who doesn’t want you to go on your trip?
Believe me, the enemy will throw all kinds of hindrances in your path, especially for your first trip. But if you’ve prayed and planned, then it’s time to GO! A broken leg may be something to really consider. Kids need their mommies! But in my case, I still felt compelled to go…but that’s another story.
With your goals laid out, you may want to write up a rough schedule for each day to help keep you on track. For my last trip, I started jotting down ideas under each day written on a notepad as they came to me while I was just doing my normal daily tasks.
One thing I would recommend is to plan to make fasting and prayer a part of your planning, whether you do it on the trip or in preparation. For my last trip, I fasted and prayed on the day of my travel so I could dive into the planning immediately when I woke up the next morning.
But I have been known to fast for longer, too. It is easier not to have to plan and cook meals (though not as fun…fasting is not a “fun” discipline, but an important one)! Ask God what He wants you to do with the spiritual aspect of the trip. It may “just” be more intentional or longer times of prayer and spending time with Him. But don’t neglect this crucial part!
Don’t forget to also plan for your kids and husband while you’re away! Will they follow a strict schedule or more of a routine? Make a daily to-do list and feel free to keep it simple. There are times for basic curriculum and lessons or just a week of lots of reading and exploring nature. But setting daily goals or routines is an important aspect of the planning and your trip away is a good opportunity for your kids to practice self-discipline and handling responsibility.
Re-Entry from Your Homeschool Planning Trip
The week (or couple days or hours) has flown by and now you are packing up and getting ready to head back home to your brood. It’s gone before you know it, right? I’m sure you really miss your family, but the peace and quiet… oh, the peace and quiet…
I realize not all of these (specifically the third one) will be possible, but here’s what I suggest for a peaceful re-entry into “real” life:
- Spend the drive home praying and “debriefing.” If you are alone, you can do this in the quietness of the car. If you are with a friend, do it together!
- Thank the Lord for what you accomplished, even if it wasn’t as much as you’d hoped (it never is)!
- When you get home, give yourself the rest of the day to relax as much as possible. Pull a prepared meal out of the freezer or pick up a pizza! Snuggle up to a movie night with the family (or you go in your bedroom and let them enjoy it together). It can be a bit shocking to the system to come back home to all that noise and activity after so much quiet and focused time.
Overall, though, I find that I come back home refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle everything I haven’t done in the past 6-8 months…or years! 😆 A homeschool planning trip is just what it takes to put the wind back in my homeschooling sails and give me enough momentum for the next little stretch of homeschooling.