This week I have been trying to get motivated to plan some details of our upcoming trip to Scandinavia. Now that we are empty nesters, my husband and I have the freedom to go for longer trips. But my mind is wandering and I reminisce about trips we have taken as a family. Our girls are in university, and the opportunities for family travel are harder to schedule. So I like to take advantage of any opportunity for travel with them that I can. With busy study schedules, different study breaks and summer jobs, travel as a family can be a challenge.
My Tips for Family Travel with the Univeristy Student
- Go to them – explore the city or town where they study
- Long Weekends – take advantage of short breaks for a city getaway
- Summer Travel – travel abroad
- Service Trip – take a meaningful trip or volunteer together
- Road Trips – explore your own province or state
- Collaborate – plan the trip with your student to keep them engaged
Sometimes it’s easier for you to travel to the city or town where they are studying. A night out of the dorm or dinner out is a welcome change of scenery to my girls. Our oldest daughter is studying at our alma mater in Halifax. It’s only a couple of hours away, and it’s a great excuse for us to get away for the weekend, explore the city, go to the market or take a walk in Point Pleasant Park and a nice dinner out.
Ashlyn is studying a couple of hours away as well, in the opposite direction of her sister. I never tire of visiting her in Fredericton and having her act as our tour guide and share her favourite spots in New Brunswick’s capital city.
If you live on the East Coast, a long weekend is a great opportunity to catch a flight to NYC, Toronto or Montreal. Flights to popular cities are short and plentiful, so it’s an ideal getaway. If they are cities you have been to, book into your favourite hotel or visit your favourite spots. If it’s a new city, have your student pick some activities or places to visit. And don’t forget that your student may need to spend a few hours studying. This could be an opportunity to do a little shopping or bring a book so you can still be with them and not interfere with their study time.
Last November a university study break allowed me to fly to Toronto with Chelsea for a mother daughter getaway. It was our first trip to Toronto (I had been there years ago, before kids), so we enjoyed visiting the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium. It also included some shopping and “study” time as midterms were coming.
In December Ashlyn’s Christmas Break started early, a perfect time to visit NYC. We had visited as a family ten years ago, but had never experienced the beauty of Christmas in NYC. Since Ashlyn is an avid ballet fan, The Nutcracker was a must see. We also saw the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall and spent time at Macy’s in all it’s splendour of the season.
Summer often provides longer breaks, and opportunities to experience faraway places. This might be a great time to experience a life changing trip with your student. Maybe you decide to explore a foreign country and learn a new language together or go on a service trip. We were fortunate enough to do a service trip in Guatemala, while the girls were still in high school.
Summer travel destinations to explore with your student might include a seaside village or a scenic road trip. A few days on the road might include a park or a hike. Take cues from them, feel out various ideas and see what is appealing. Getting out to experience nature as warm days turn to warm evenings is often welcome. If camping is not your thing, rent a cabin. Have a bonfire in the backyard.
The summer before Chelsea started university we were able to take a short road trip to beautiful Cape Breton. I was ashamed that we had traveled to several continents with the girls, but had never taken them to this beauty in our home province. We managed a three day escape from summer jobs, resting our heads in one of the new oTENTik’s in the Cape Breton Highlands National park. Our days were filled with hikes and exploring the beaches. Many memories were made with the four of us together, just weeks before moving Chelsea to the city.
Although a family getaway will not happen this summer, I was able to sneak away for 3 -days with Chelsea to visit St. John’s, Newfoundland. Both first-timers in this city, we spent time exploring the history of Signal Hill, hiking Cape Spear Path, iceberg hunting, and cool beer on a patio on George Street. Next month Ashlyn has planned out a several day road trip to Quebec, which will involve hiking and experiencing the beautiful Gaspe.
I am looking forward to my Baltic cruise and Nordic adventure this fall, but I am not done making travel memories with my girls at every opportunity. What kind of travel adventures do you dream of with your student?