Planning for an international field trip during Spring Break

The house is quiet. One kid is at a friend's house checking out each other's Christmas gifts. Another is out grabbing groceries with dad. I'm cuddled up on the coach, listening to the audiobook version of The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. *

The book is one of several recommended to the students and teachers traveling to Ireland, Wales, England and Paris during Spring Break 2017. A few weeks ago, after months of procrastinating, I completed A Tale of Two Cities. *  Next on my list is The Hunchback of Notre Dame. *

One of my goals in life has been to travel. In recent years, despite my strong desire to do so, I simply haven't gotten out much. As a Spanish teacher, this is far from ideal. My dream is to visit a different Spanish-speaking culture each year, bringing back stories, pictures and momentos to share with my students. A big piece of this dream is being able to bring my daughters with me. Over the years, I've observed that my students who have traveled out of the country have a tremendous academic edge over those who haven't. They think more critically, articulate their understanding of cultural differences more clearly, and appear, overall, to be more open-minded.

But the reality for this NerdyTeacherMom is that much of my cultural learning has happened here in the States. And outside of a road trip to Toronto two summers ago, my children have never left the country.

But that's about to change.

When more than 50 students at my high school signed up for a Spring Break trip to Europe, my colleagues asked me to be a chaperone.  Despite the fact that the trip does not include a Spanish-speaking country, I was flattered and thrilled to say "yes." Chaperones pretty much travel for free (we pay for insurance and tips). Not to mention, I didn't see any foreign travel on the horizon for me.

So the idea of this trip was not a complete novelty for me. In 2014, I tackled a huge fear of leaving my family and chaperoned a trip to Barcelona. southern France, and Italy. I had "gotten the travel bug," but hadn't been able to get another trip going. But what makes this trip so special is that my daughter, a 9th grader, is traveling with me. My dream of exposing my children to other parts of the world is finally coming to fruition.

Selling the idea to my husband was not easy. (In fact, I still don't think he's actually "sold.") With a tween and a teen and the overall expenses of life, dropping a couple grand for a trip to Europe is not easy to do. (The rate for my daughter is the same as for other students.) But, I saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Will other travel abroad opportunities present themselves to her? Probably. But will we have another chance to make this particular trip together? Probably not. I feel blessed to be have this opportunity.

I honestly do not know if my daughter understands how significant this trip will be, how blessed she is to be going, or how much of a financial sacrifice it is to make it happen. My hope is that it comes together and "clicks" for her.

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