September – The Ultimate Month for Unschooling Travel

by ChristinaPilkington on August 10, 2011 · 10 comments

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We’ve now entered the season of big back-to-school sales on supplies and clothes. Many parents are taking their children to register for classes and kids are trying to get in those last free days of swimming, biking, hanging with friends, and lying in bed reading whatever they want all day.  Even people who aren’t in school, or don’t have children in school, seem to get sucked into the back-to-school mentality. By the second or third week of August most people are saying goodbye to summer – even though fall doesn’t technically begin until September 22 or 23.

So why would I first start a series on interest-led travel when for most people travel is the furthest thing from their minds?

Because homeschooling/unschooling families aren’t restricted by school schedules. We can travel whenever and wherever we want to. For the majority of homeschooling families, travel is a core part of their lifestyle. Even if they don’t travel far, homeschoolers understand the value of exploring and discovering the world around them, whether it’s 5, 25, or 3,000 miles away.

Our family LOVES to travel. By the age of five my kids had been to 14 States, 1 US territory and 1 British territory. We’re planning a trip to Italy for next year. I’m so amazed at the amount of learning that takes place during our trips. We learn all the time wherever we are, but being away from the familiar seems to bring our learning to another level. We have great conversations, see new things, and change the way we see the world.

Even if you can’t or don’t want to travel far from home, you’ll still experience many wonderful things if you get out and explore your own neighborhood and community. Visit new businesses. Check out a new park or forest. Attend a local festival or fair. See how many day trips you can take within 60 miles of your home.

If you do want to venture a little farther from home, here are 5 reasons why September is the best month for unschooling travel.

1) You’re travelling during the off-season so you’ll get amazing breaks on hotels, vacation rental homes and activities. Check out and  From a cabin in the Smoky Mountains to a beach house on Grand Cayman Island, we’ve found amazing deals when renting homes. It’s cheaper than staying in a hotel, you can cook your own meals, and you’re surrounded by locals instead of tourists most of the time. It’s a great way to get a real sense of the place where you’re staying. I don’t remember many of the hotel rooms I’ve stayed at, but the homes that we’ve lived in for several weeks, those I will always remember. Besides the homes, check out the local businesses and activities, too. All four of us were able to swim with the dolphins for $150 dollars – a deal I haven’t been able to find anywhere else.

2) You won’t be fighting the crowds. Most people are in school or not travelling during the month of September so you won’t be fighting with crowds at museums or other attractions that tourists usually frequent. It’s also great to walk around a new city surrounded by locals instead of tourists.  Again, you really a true flavor of the country. You can take your time and really live in the moment instead of rushing to get to places before the crowds take over.

3) Many museums and local attractions are free or discounted during September. We live near Chicago, and September is a big month for free days at many of the museums. We also have a lot of free days here in May and the first week of June, but I’ve learned with all the school buses jamming kids in for end of the year field trips, to stay clear of the museums, zoos and nature centers during this time. Instead, we take in a lot of local places during September. We get to take advantage of the discounted days without the crowds.

4) The weather is usually still nice during September in most parts of the world. While it’s great to visit other parts of your country and foreign countries during the winter, it can sometimes limit the things you can do while you’re there. Yes, things will be the least expensive during the winter months, but many places will be closed since there aren’t as many tourists, or it might be more difficult to stay out for long periods of time when it’s cold outside. In September, you’ll get to take advantage of off-season prices and still enjoy nice weather.

5) It’s a freeing feeling to know that you can get out and have awesome adventures while many people are stuck in the same building every day. This is my favorite reason. I used to be a teacher, so during the first few years I stayed home after my kids were born, I had that usual sick feeling in my stomach when the second week of August would roll around. I’d be dreading the end of summer. Even though it would still be warm for another two more months, somehow I was still convinced that my outdoor options were about to end in a few short weeks.  But now I get so excited when September arrives. I know we have weeks of crowd free zoos, nature centers and parks. We can take trips and visit many places and have lots of fun exploring. We can get out and do whatever we find fun and interesting.

Over the next three weeks, I’m going to bring you some great resources you can use while planning some fun September travel, whether it’s close to home or to a brand new country. I look forward to sharing with you ways to make September your most exciting month yet.


Photo Credit: Corey Leopold


What travel plans do you have for September?


What do you think of this series on September travel?  I’d love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment below or send me an e-mail at  You can always get free e-mail updates whenever I post something new by signing for my mailing list at the right-hand corner of this page.

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  • K_adelberg

    I was saying to my husband that this is a great time of year to travel, we are heading on a trip the first week of September. I think it’s a great way to distract unschooled kids from the back to school hype. By the time we get back, kids will be settled, ads will done and hopefully less people will be talking about school. My kids were packing their backpacks yesterday and I worried they were pretending they were getting ready for school but mo, they were packing for our trip! What a relief!

    • Anonymous

      School is such a big part of our mindset. My kids are still little, and yet I heard them playing “homework” just the other day. The little girls next door taught them that game. I’m just glad it’s only a game for them. They get such a wrong impression of what school is like that many unschooled kids want to give it a try. It’s strange listening to parents whose kids are going to school for the first time go on about how exciting it is, but yet I never read or hear about anything exciting that their kids did that first week.

  • Kimberly Slage

    Such a great post, Christina. Our family likes to travel around too! It’s sad that all my nieces and nephews are posting that they have only one week left until “hell” starts. I’m so happy we don’t live that way anymore. Thanks for the great links and advice.

    • Anonymous


      Thanks! It makes me sad, too, when I hear comments like that. We live one block away from an elementary school. There’s an empty lot across from our backyard, so we can see the school lot when we stand out in the back. In just 8 days I’ll be hearing the kids rush out for their 10 minutes of recess and 15-20 minutes outside for gym class. It’s so sad to see. They rush out liked they’ve been locked away and are trying to get out all this contained up energy just as fast as they can.

      It’s great to be able to know I can take the kids down to Lake Michigan when almost everyone else will be back in school. I like going so many places without crowds, but I it also makes me feel sad for what a lot of kids and even parents are missing out on.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Christina! You are so right, we can learn much whether we travel near or far! No excuses! Get out there and explore!

    Also, thanks for letting me know that I was not the only teacher that would start to get anxious (and sick) when school rolled around. I too am excited to finally be freeeeeeee! Looking forward to more from your travel series. Take care!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks! I’m excited about this series and am glad others are, too.

  • Anonymous

    Love the travel theme. :) I love to road trip with our kids {4 and 2}. So far, we’ve explored the Oregon Coast and Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP. They are still little, so our trips aren’t super in depth, but I’m looking forward to learning a lot on upcoming trips when they are a bit older! Thanks for the tips!

    • Anonymous

      Exploring the Pacific Northwest is high on our list, too. My husband has hiked in the Grand Teton/Yellowstone area, too and would love to go back. Our kids are little, too, but I’m so amazed at how much they learn. We took them to the US Virgin Islands when they were 14 months old. A lot of people thought we were a little crazy, but we went to coral world and saw amazing sea turtles there, played at lots of beaches and visited local historic homes. When they were 3 we went swimming with the dolphins, went crab hunting at night and searched for sea stars in the ocean. They still remember that trip clearly. I think it’s so important to give your kids as many chances as possible to hear, see, smell, taste and touch as much of the world as you can.

  • Jessica

    We are traveling to VA for a family camp focused on oceanography. From there we are hoping to tag along with my husband for a business trip to Washington, DC. While we have been there before, there are so many things we did not get to see. My goal this year is to take advantage of my husband’s travel as much as possible. I am crossing my fingers that we will get to California towards the end of September!

    • Anonymous

      TypeThat’s so wonderful that your entire family can spend a whole week at a camp exploring oceanography together. I hadn’t realized there were family camps with learning themes. Awesome! We try to travel with my husband whenever possible, too. In March we went to Las Vegas and then spent two weeks in San Diego. We’ve also driven to Minnesota, too. You’ll have an amazing time in Washington, D.C. I can imagine you could spend a month there and still not see even half of the cool things there. Have fun! your reply…

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