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Be a travel agent

How you can help at home: Have your child plan a real or virtual trip - budget and all.

By Tonya Breland, Consulting Educator

Many families dream of spending part of their summer vacation traveling to places far and near. Whether your family makes traveling a reality this summer or simply dreams about it, you can ask your teen to be your travel agent and come up with family vacation options.

This activity incorporates a number of skills, including researching, understanding money, writing, and reading comprehension. It reinforces map skills and can broaden your child's knowledge of history. Your child will get to practice math by budgeting, measuring distance and time, and converting temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit. He'll even get a chance to hone his technology and artistic skills.

Here is what your child can do:

  • Get travel brochures and/or search the Internet for exciting places for your family to visit.
  • Decide where you'd like to travel: domestic or international. Research fun places and choose one or more to compare.
  • Find out how far away it is and how long it would take to get there. What routes would you take? Map it out.
  • Research the best way to travel, by car, plane, or boat — and the ticket prices and journey lengths for each.
  • Where will you stay? Hotel, cabin, tent, resort, house, or villa? What do each of these cost per night, including fees and local taxes?
  • What will you do when you get to your destination? What activities do mom/dad want to do? What fun stuff would kids want to do? What about the grandparents (if traveling with you)? Are there historical sites or other educational opportunities to take advantage of while you're there? What will these activities cost, including transit?
  • Create an itinerary. When are you leaving and returning? What will you do first, next?
  • What will you need to take on the trip? Plan for the weather, account for any new gear or gadgets you'll need to purchase or rent, and convert temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit (here's the formula: °C x 9/5 + 32 = °F) when necessary.
  • Decide how much money you can spend. Create a budget that includes the cost of:
  1. Travel/transportation
  2. Lodging
  3. Eating
  4. Entertainment
  5. Does your budget cover every activity the family wants to do?
  6. Where can you cut costs to make the money go further?

With all this information accumulated, ask your child to find a creative way to present the complete package of information to the family. Your teen may want to make a multimedia presentation, create a brochure, or use excel spreadsheets to show where costs could fluctuate. Plan trips for other family members, friends, and neighbors, too.

Enjoy your trip, whether it's real or virtual!

Tonya Breland is a Milken Foundation National Educator Award recipient in 2006, from Burlington, New Jersey. Tonya is a principal at Evergreen Ave. Elementary School in Woodbury, New Jersey. Prior to becoming an elementary principal, she was an interim vice principal and fourth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Fountain Woods Elementary in Burlington Township, New Jersey. Tonya holds a master's degree in administration.

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