Go! Tips


What do YOU do to make your learning adventures go smoothly?
How do you decide where to go, or put fun adventures together?
Have other tips to share?
Leave tips in the comments below or become a Goschooler Reviewer. (right)

TIP 1: Put it on your calendar! Even if "it" is a blank space. Keep time open for any adventures that may arise. Even if the adventure doesn't fall in the time you've saved, you might be able to bump other plans into it to make time for those unscheduled opportunities.

TIP 2: Don't rush. Leave yourself plenty of time for travel and to take it all in. Rushing increases stress which decreases retention. But with enough time, you'll be free to try a new road, make an unplanned stop, have an extended conversation with an expert. And if nothing else, you'll have time to relax after your learning adventure, which INCREASES retention!

TIP 3: Bring food. Remember how stress decreases retention? Well hunger can cause stress too! Food can be a great transition from one activity to another for little ones ("I have a granola bar for everyone who is ready to go and buckled in their car seat.") AND with your extra time (see tip 2), you might enjoy a picnic, increasing the enjoyment for everyone which - you guessed it! - ALSO increases retention!

TIP 4: Bring friends. Start a field trip co-op so you only plan one adventure but have many more to go on! If the ages and stages of children are a good match, management can be easier with the buddy system. AND a larger group may make your adventurers eligible for individualized attention, tours, or group discounts.

TIP 5: Be open, be connected. There as as many different passions as there are people in the world. Talking to people about what they love not only brings you closer, but is a great way to discover new adventures and learning opportunities you may not have considered. If you are willing to try anything good at least once, you might discover you love more than you ever knew!

Adventuring on a Budget

Want to travel more but feel like you can't afford it? 
These tips may help make your adventure dreams reality. 

TIP 1: If you haven't already, discover Airbnb.com. I'm always surprised when folks have NOT made use of this fantastic platform for booking accommodations. ESPECIALLY when you are traveling as a family and are away for more than a night or two. Unlike other travel sites, there is no membership fee. A portion of what you book goes to the company. And in many instances (like our trip to San Francisco), Airbnb properties were not cheaper than a hotel. But here is the deal: if you book a HOME, you have access to a kitchen and bedrooms, which means everyone is better slept for your adventuring, AND you can eat at home saving you potentially hundreds of dollars on food expense (argh! San Fran). I always hunt here first and compare prices to what I'm able to find in hotels if my trip is shorter than 4 days. If we'll be somewhere LONGER than 3 nights, I almost don't look at hotels at all. (I've tried a few other similar platforms, like VRBO. I like Airbnb's best. I love that I can specify price-ranges, bedrooms, beds, bathrooms, neighborhoods, and other details like washer and driers, air conditioning, hot tubs, etc.)

CLICK HERE to find your first stay, anywhere in the world, on Airbnb!

TIP 2: Recently I'm liking Homeexchange.com more. This is a home exchange network that allows you to list your own home and vacation swap with other home owners. The downside of these platforms are these: being hit up for exchanges to places I don't have the means to get to (in our case Switzerland and Brazil). But it's cool that some folks are eyeballing our little neck of the woods! And I don't like how many exchange requests I have sent out just to be turned down by EVERY. SINGLE. INQUIRY (thank you LA snobs). AND I don't love that there is an annual membership fee. BUT they have recently updated their platform making sending out a hoard of inquiries easier. And they have also recently changed their payment structure. So if you DON'T want to pay the annual fee, you can pay a low charge IF you book an exchange. In our case, simultaneous exchanges have never worked (where we go to the family's house while they come to ours), BUT we have completed one exchange in Flagstaff, AZ and have another one in Boston. In these cases, I pay the host "guest points," which I earned by signing up for their service, listing my home, and making a bunch of inquiries. The "guest point" rates are VERY reasonable. And when it comes together, it feels like the housing in our adventuring city is FREE! (Like getting a week in a lovely home in Flagstaff for $150 - the annual fee last year. OR getting 4 nights and TONS of space in Boston for $40 - instead of the annual fee, me paying for this exchange.)

CLICK HERE for 100 Guest Points with Homeexchange.com just for signing up - you'll have a night or nearly that right from the start!

TIP 3: Signing up for credit cards with high bonus mileage offers for opening an account. This was hubby's idea when we determined to go to Taiwan. It happened that United had a pretty good offer and was a great airline to get to Taiwan and back. When we combined the offer with traveling on Taiwan's off season, we were able to get all 6 of us to Taiwan and back for under $4k! After coming home, we kept that card as our main spending account, and earned another ticket to the east coast and back this past summer. And we got another ticket or two with Delta's introductory offer, bringing our total airfare expense to the east coast and back to around $500 for 6 of us. (Hated our experience with Delta, btw, so we cut that card after getting home) BUT anticipating that we may have cause to travel to Boston in the coming year, we signed up for an airline's card (Jet Blue) that flies directly to Boston from SLC, and have earned a free round trip ticket already with their bonus offer. 

If you want to jump into this scene, I recommend doing a bit of research first. Get on flights.google.com and take a look at prices and travel times to the destination(s) of your choice. Don't get a card for an airline flying no where you plan to go. (Alaska Air, for example. Great offer, but none of their destinations speak to me.) Note what airlines ARE flying at decent hours of the day and for decent total travel times to the destinations that speak to YOU. You can track those flights and watch google-generated graphs about pricing to gauge what a good deal is. Simultaneously, began digging for bonus miles offers. Don't take the first one you see. You can even ask the representatives of the credit card companies what the BEST offers are, and how to qualify for those. And do all of this a good 5-6 months before you hope to travel. Most offers want you to spend a certain amount on the card within the first 90 days in order to get the points. So if you need to get somewhere next month, this may still be a good plan, but you likely will not get to use your bonus miles on THAT flight. (Though you can book it with the card. Some cards offer up to six times the points for flights booked on its airline. Others have free baggage for tickets booked with the same airline's credit card. If you have a big trip and a big family, this benefit could save you over $100 on a round trip, easily!)

TIP 4: If you are traveling to big American cities, research their public transportation options before renting a car. (This probably is true of most larger, first world foreign countries too.) Often a couple of trips on Lyft, combined with busing, subwaying, etc. is far cheaper than paying for a car, gas, AND the car's parking everywhere you go.Though I DO recommend doing the math. In San Fran, for example, our plan had been to take the trolley cars and buses, but none of the kids had free fares with paying adults and it turned out, for that city, that calling a XL Lyft ride was cheaper than navigating public transportation! Either way, YOU don't have to navigate and can enjoy seeing the sights, mingling with the locals, and talking with your own kids. Who knows, the kids may just love the bus and subway rides best! (Based on our very recent trip to Boston where we had issues with our Lyft apps, I just wanted to add that I would be VERY WARY of taxis. If you've not experienced either, Lyft or Uber is the same concept - a stranger taking you where you want to go - but the Lyft and Uber drivers are FAR nicer and the price is pre-determined. When we opted to take a Taxi due to issues with our phones, it cost as twice as much as Lyft was quoting us. AND the entire time, we felt like we were being taken for a ride - and NOT in a good way.)

Managing Museums

I love taking my family to museums. Over the years I have learned a few tricks to maximize learning and save money. Here they are:

1. Find out about free days or opportunities to go for free or at a discount. Many museums offer free days to the public in exchange for public tax funds. Others may offer discounts to groups or homeschoolers. Any time you hit a new museum, try to go as inexpensively as possible.

2. Leave lots of time for your first visit. Some museums will engage your children and they won't want to leave. Try to leave lots of time for your first visit. If you've gone on a free day, you may need it for the crowds. And if you have payed money, you never want to short change any experience your kids may be enjoying. If they aren't engaged, you can always leave earlier than planned.

3. Get a membership. When you find a museum that rocks your kids' worlds, get a membership. This decreases what you spend on each visit and allows your kids to learn more, and more deeply each time they go. I would only recommend one museum membership per family per year. The bonus is that many memberships allow visits to other museums for free or at a discounted rate. Try a new membership to a different museum each year. They make great Christmas gifts!

4. When you go often, ask your kids before you enter what they already know about some of the displays and things inside. Then invite them to learn three NEW things on your visit and report back on what they found out. With regular visits, you may wrap up a year's membership with a child expert on your hands!

5. Go and go again. Some museums are geared for different ages, and we never know when a subject or display will suddenly engage our kids. That's why trying as many as you are able each year on the cheap is a great idea - you may discover your child is suddenly interested in art, or dinosaurs, or space when he hadn't been before! Pick the one that meets the most pressing needs and master that location for a year with a membership.

Other Ideas 

*Consider a Picnic Sheet Instead of a Picnic Blanket!  A picnic sheet is perfect for hot weather! A sheet is not only less heavy and takes less room (crucial factors if your capable big people are outnumbered by little ones), but placed on grass it let's some of the cool through, keeping you more comfortable. And at the beach, it holds less sand than a fuzy blanket or quilt. (Hang on to your picnic blanket though! They are nice for spring, fall, and evening cooler temperatures!)

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