There is something that just excites me about summer. The long days, warm sun and opportunities for childhood adventure seem endless. As a teen, I had the opportunity to go on an adventure exploring the Western United States with my family. Four people, a conversion mini van, no particular schedule and the great open road. I drug my feet and complained mightily about being away from my friends, but that trip was one of the most amazing experiences of my young life.
This summer, my husband and I have the opportunity to recreate this but in the Eastern United States. There will be five of us aged 15 months to 34 years, along with all of our luggage and a tent packed into a mini van with few hard dates and a month of open road. I’m, of course, worried that my tweens will bicker but I am more excited about the Adventure and Educational Opportunities that we are opening the doors to.
A month on the road will cost some money, of course. However, we have a few cards up our sleeves to reduce the costs that we are paying for our experiences. Stop one happens to be with a dear friend who is Active Duty Military, so we will be taking advantage of Blue Star Museums every chance we get. What are Blue Star Museums? These are museums who offer free admission to Active Duty Military and up to five guests all summer long. There are museums across the United States who participate and it is an excellent opportunity to learn, even if you aren’t straying far from home!
As a Disabled Veteran, my husband also has a pass to the National Parks System. This allows us to enter National Monuments, Parks, Battlefields and Museums free of charge. It is an excellent opportunity for our kids to take advantage of learning about our National Treasures, Ecology, Geology and History. We just need the gas to get there! If you have a 4th grader, there is a special program that allows you to also take advantage of free admission!
Finally, we will be spending sometime in Washington DC. The Smithsonian Institute, National Museums and National Zoo all have free admission. Parking can be an issue, so we will park and take mass transit into the city. This will be another learning experience for our kids as we don’t use this type of transportation at home.
That leaves us with food, lodging and gas. Food – well, we have to eat anywhere we go, so I don’t really factor too heavily into my calculations. Besides, we are happy with homemade sandwiches from an icebox. We drink lots of water, although there is definitely a coffee budget. Lodging – we will stay with family and friends at some points. Otherwise, we have a tent and will be teaching the kids how to properly set it up and break it down. You can camp at many State and National Parks for less than $20 per night! Gas – this will be our biggest expense outside of our normal budget. The gas to get from our home Out West to the East Coast will be a few hundred dollars but once on the East coast, everything is fairly close.
Goal Based Adventures
We have set goals for this adventure. These are educational objectives that we want to meet prior to our return trip home. Some of ours include:
- being able to put up and break down a tent
- calculating mileage and cost per mile
- learning how to navigate public transportation
- identifying key battles of the American Civil War, including where it began and ended
- learning states and their capitals – we will do this by playing a car game where the state is named from a license plate and the car occupants then name the capital city
- being able to identify different types of bodies of water and land masses
- Using Car time to study for our Amateur Radio Licenses
We are so excited about this trip and sharing experiential learning with our children. Along the way, we will be updating Global Learn Day of our travels and experiences as part of our “Summer Break” series!
This was a guest blog post from Mary Elizabeth over at 3TimesBlessed.