Deep thoughts on education and travel

To what extent would a pricey school prevent us from doing this?

Would a pricey school tuition prevent us from doing this?

The grownups of this family are in the throes of decision time over here. The question: Where to send L (and, eventually, R) for kindergarten (and beyond).

Settling on a final answer has been challenging. In California, we are lucky enough to have a host of options: straight public, public charter, private, private parochial, and more. Because Powerwoman and I are researchers by nature (translation: because we’re total overachievers), we have investigated, toured and applied to nearly a half-dozen schools. With one of the deadlines bearing down on us next week, it’s proverbial crunchtime.

Ultimately, our decision will be based on a variety of factors. There certainly have been lots of issues to consider, including educational philosophy, class size, arts programs, and more. Of course another biggie is cost—not only because some of the schools are expensive, but also because every dollar we spend on school is one less dollar we can spend on travel.

To some of you readers, this notion of potentially sacrificing travel for the sake of mainstream education might seem trivial (or, maybe, short-sighted). For us, however, it’s a serious issue—not necessarily a deal-breaker, but a biggie.

Travel is a huge part of how this family rolls. My wife and I are committed to broadening our daughters’ perspectives on the world by spending at least one month out of every year living in a new place. Heck, we just wrapped up a four-month stint of living in London! We’re also committed to exploring through shorter trips, as well. Case in point: Next month, we’re headed to Yosemite National Park as a family for the first time ever.

From a practical perspective, Powerwoman and I also work to weave travel into the overall fabric of our girls’ education. This means our trips incorporate learning at every turn. We don’t just go to the beach and sloth. We go to the beach, and by DOING, EXPERIENCING and EMBRACING new things over the course of the day, we share lessons about geography and biology and botany and history and a whole host of other disciplines. We also strive to incorporate the journey into the overall experience; yes, those 6-hour road trips and ten-hour plane trips are challenging, but they also are great opportunities to bond with our girls.

In short, travel isn’t something we’re willing to sacrifice. Which means we’ve been thinking long and hard about putting ourselves into a position that could endanger our resources to do it.

This blog post isn’t the forum to diagram our answer—how and where we choose to school our kids is a private decision and one we’ll make privately. Nevertheless, because this is a travel blog, because travel is such a huge part of our world, I thought it was important to share some of our biggest concerns here, and solicit input and feedback from you.

What’s your take? How would you reconcile this conundrum? If you’re a parent who already has been there and done that, which way did you go and why? If you’re currently dealing with these issues, what are the issues that are keeping you up at night? Sharing your opinions on this subject could help Powerwoman and me—all of us, really—make the most informed decisions possible. I’m all ears.

5 replies
  1. Andrea, Passports And Pushchairs
    Andrea, Passports And Pushchairs says:

    We really struggled with this as well, and our son is now in kindergarten. We live in a state with the public schools aren’t great, so our options were limited. We ultimately went private, which does cut into our travel budget. But we figured out ways to save in other areas so not too badly 🙂

  2. Katie
    Katie says:

    The entire reason why we live in La Jolla is because the public schools are amazing but they restrict how much school you can miss. My daughter is allowed to miss a certain amount of days and that is it, even if you choose to donate to make up for the lack of funding received by the state (which we do, it’s only fair). We stay within the allowed maximum, which is a strain at something like 10 days (including illness without a doctor’s note) but it is doable. What you may find is that the girls will eventually love certain things about school and not want to miss much of it. My kid (first grade) hates missing Fridays because it’s her book buddy day. Then, there are after school activities and so forth that she hates to miss. Things like this may drive you into less travel anyway and that is OK. Though during this school year we’ll have been to San Francisco, Colorado, Miami, China, Kauai and probably Scottsdale and Mexico in addition to road trips to OC/LA… all wedged in over holidays, conference days and a few missed days. That’s not too bad, eh? Things will fall into place no matter what you decide.

    • Matt Villano
      Matt Villano says:

      This is GREAT to hear, Katie. Thanks for reading, and for weighing in. We’ve got a lot to learn from you moms and dads who have been there and done that already.

  3. Matt Villano
    Matt Villano says:

    Thanks for your feedback, Andrea. If you don’t mind me asking, what are some of the other ways in which you’re saving? If you’d rather respond privately, I’m cool with that. You can find my email on my main site,

  4. Robin
    Robin says:

    We often have the same discussion. Right now we pay an obseen amount for daycare/preschool all in the name of making sure our kids have a good start and excellent care as we work. But I keep looking forward to the day that we have preschool and see some of that money back so we can travel more. But that means living in an area with a good school district that will cost more. But school also inhibit when and how long you can travel for. That I’m not looking forward to that. Now I don’t mind taking the kids out for a month, but I know public schools will be less open to that idea. Not sure private schools feel the same but it’s still a concern.

    Long story short, we are a year behind you in making that same decision and I’m looking forward to seeing how it works for you. Good luck!


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