I teach design at a University in Portland and as I prepare to head back to school in January after the holiday break, I’m looking ahead to this year of travel and figuring out how to make the most of the time off I have as a teacher. For all the teachers out there that still want to travel during the school year, this post is for you! And while yes, teachers get longer periods of time off during the holidays and the Summer, it’s still possible to maximize travel on a teacher’s schedule during the school year also! A caveat for this post – I also work as a designer and own my own design business so I work during the Summer and the Christmas holidays while I’m not in school also, so carving out time to travel for me is always a challenge.
In my mid-thirties, I’m finding often that finding the time to travel is the hardest. I can afford it more at this point in my life, but I find myself going back to how we traveled in our twenties, using every single holiday to travel. And while I’m not on a shoe-string budget anymore like I was back then, I’m still employing the tactics I used then to find as many days to travel as I possibly can! Here are all my tips to maximize travel on a teacher’s schedule.
Utilize the Fall Breaks in the School Year
Most schools have some sort of Fall break and it’s a great way to start the year with some travel. My University doesn’t take Labor Day off since we’ve already started at that point and gives us another day off instead in October, usually around my birthday. I use this Fall break day to get a 3 day weekend trip in a month or so after school has started. I always really appreciate myself booking something for this in advance because with the rush of school starting, I’m always ready for something fun when October rolls around. We usually fly out Thursday night or Friday morning, spend Friday and Saturday somewhere, and then fly home Sunday and it’s a lovely long weekend somewhere fun. In the last few years we’ve done New York and Orlando for the weekend.
Travel Internationally Over Thanksgiving
For over a decade now, we’ve foregone Thanksgiving and used that long weekend to travel. When we first got married, this was an easy thing to implement – it gave us an excuse to not have to go through the fighting of which family we would spend he holiday with and it also gave us at least 4-5 days off work that we didn’t have to take PTO for. It’s also at a time of the year that not a ton of people are traveling internationally as it’s only an American holiday and the weather is often not great, so it’s usually cheaper. We try to fly out Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but sometimes we’ve gotten great deals to fly out the morning of Thanksgiving as well, and come home Sunday. This is a great time in the school year to maximize days off. Over the last several years, we’ve spent the long Thanksgiving weekend in London, Iceland, China and Japan, and Scotland!
Use December Holiday Breaks for Relaxation
For the weeks teachers get off in December and January for their holiday breaks, I find this time is useful to use for relaxation. By the end of the term, teachers are exhausted and sometimes the thought of doing a big trip, even though you have the days, might seem overwhelming. I use this time to spend with my parents, who now live in LA but used to live in Hawaii. And yes, I know those locations are pretty great and warm, and I fully utilize that break with them to just relax and enjoy their cities. It’s a great way to revitalize yourself before the next start of the term in January.
3 Day Weekends in January and February
January and February are full of 3 day weekends like President’s Day and MLK Jr. Day which are great 3 day weekends to utilize for a refresh. Same as the Fall break, I use these long weekends for a fun escape just as the stress of the term is beginning. And while it might seem impossible to a long weekend far away, we’ve done places like Iceland and Amsterdam for a long weekend – leaving Thursday night and coming home Sunday. If you live in a city with direct international flights, it’s actually not bad!
Spring Break Travel
When Spring Break rolls around, I always have a great trip planned. Not only is it much needed for teachers by the time this break happens, but it’s also usually when the weather starts to get better and Summer is on the horizon! Even though Spring Break time is definitely busier travel, I use it as a week to somewhere that I can get a little bit of relaxation and a little bit of fun. The trick here is to utilize the weekends that fall before and after the Spring Break week, for example, leave for your trip the Friday before or the Saturday before, that will give you a couple more days. And on the tail end, come home Saturday so you can have Sunday at home to prepare for your week back. In the past we’ve done the week in London, Hong Kong and Japan, Austria, and Italy. This year we’ll be heading to Venice, Italy which I’m super excited about!
3 Day Getaway After School Ends
One of my favorite things to do is to end the school year with a short trip on the horizon! When my contract ends in early May (we get done super early), we take a long weekend somewhere for a quick escape. It’s such a fun thing to have on the calendar and in those final school weeks that are hard to get through, having something coming up is a great way to keep you going. We started this last year and it’s something I hope to continue. Last year we did a long weekend in Honolulu and this year as I’ll need to be in LA for my design project work, we’ll take a day and go to Universal Studios or Disney as a quick break!
For most teachers, the summer holiday is when you have more free time to travel and it’s a few months where you can really dive in. I usually do a larger trip and a bunch of smaller trips when I can around my design work schedule. Summer definitely is the busiest travel season, so pick spots that you can still escape from the crowds. Recently we’ve traveled a lot around Europe in the Summer: England, France, Switzerland, Ireland, and Spain, but in the past we’ve also done a cruise to Alaska and explored Peru… the list is endless! My one tip for this – book early! I try to have my Summer trips, at least the big ones, booked by November the year before because everything books up fast for the Summer and if you really want certain hotels or flights, it’s worth booking early. This Summer we have a trip planned through London, Switzerland, and Iceland and I’m super excited to visit more of our favorite spots and explore more of Switzerland that we fell in love with last Summer!
Final Retreat in August
And then after a magical Summer, it’s slowly time for school to start again. My University starts at the end of August and I have to be back mid-August, so in those first couple of weeks of the month, I like to do one final long weekend retreat before going back. We started this last year and I loved it. In early August, we spent 4 glorious days in New York City, eating amazing food and waking up each morning with a view of the Manhattan skyline. Go somewhere that makes you excited and puts you in the right frame of mind to come back and head back into the school year!
*Pro Tip! Use the flight time to grade and answer emails – I almost always get the wifi on the flights during the school year, especially on the 3 day weekends and use that time to get grading done!