Educational Travel | Pennsylvania, New Mexico & Louisiana

Welcome to the June edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Vacation and Travel.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are sharing ideas, inspiration and information on travel and vacations! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


A little background information … My dear Mama is a teacher. A kindergarten teacher which means every activity can easily be morphed into a learning adventure.

Looking back at my childhood I have countless memories of such adventures. Some of the fondest ones include summer trips. I hesitate to call them vacations, because now, as an adult, I know what a true, relaxing vacation really is. What my sisters and I encountered during grade school was nothing of the sort. On our summer trips we rose at school time (bright and early) and were busy until sundown … or later!

Many of our summer trips were born out of a school year assignment. During 5th grade at our elementary school all students completed a state report. My sisters and I fully embraced these projects and became resident experts on Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Louisiana, respectively. We learned  the state’s history, traditions, weather, tourist sites, and so much more! My parents saw our fascination and instead of preparing for a vacation to Hawaii or a theme park, we packed our bags and flew from Washington State to the land of our state reports :)

My sisters and I are all three years apart, so these three trips spanned 6 years. The first trip, Pennsylvania, was filled with historical wonder as we visited Philadelphia on the 4th of July, toured the battlefields of Gettysburg, and wandered around Amish country – even staying at a real Amish farm! We also visited Coalport … a mini city in western PA where my grandma was born. We found the old pharmacy her dad owned and after visiting with the current owners we marched into the basement and found old prescription forms with my great-grandpa’s signature!

New Mexico wasn’t my idea of a fun trip, but my sister, Katie, was enthralled with Native American and Mexican culture and boy did we get our fill! Santa Fe and Ruidoso were two of our most favorite stops. We also visited the aliens at Roswell and ate mountains of delicious food. Looking back, New Mexico was one of my favorite trips – the dry heat, Old Town walks, and beautiful landscape are treasured memories. I would really like to go back!


Last, but not least, my baby sis, Hannah, chose to study Louisiana. We were there in April 2005, just months before Hurricane Katrina and it still boggles my mind to see pictures of the devastation in places I walked. In Louisiana I fell in love with beignets, bread pudding, the monstrous plantations, and the sweet fireflies. The Deep South is a land in and of itself and after years of being intrigued by Civil War fiction I felt honored to see it come to life before my eyes.

Not all families are fortunate enough to pack up and fly across the country every few summers. I know we were blessed to have these opportunities. But, whether it’s journey across state lines or an adventure in your own backyard, learning opportunities abound!

My husband and I plan to homeschool our children in the coming years and I hope we’ll be able to carry on the tradition of 5th grade state reports followed by a real life experience. Nothing invigorated by study more than knowing I would have the opportunity to touch, feel, and see what I was researching. In my homeschool plan, I hope to incorporate the following elements into our pre-trip study:

  • Historical Details – Every state is brimming with their own historical gems
  • Cost Analysis – Nothing like a little real life math, we’ll be charting our airfare, lodging, amusement fees, food, gas mileage, and much more
  • Points of Interest – Many of our stops were quite unique … a Tabasco farm, crayon factory, pretzel factory, historical venues, agriculture farms, etc. 
  • Local Cuisine – I don’t think we ate at any chains on our trips, we were all about scoping the Food Network’s recommendations for local hot spots

And, while on the trip:

  • Adventure Journals – Daily documentation of what we see and do
  • Photography – My Mama has always had a heart for photography, we have packs and packs of pictures from our trips, photos are truly the best souvenirs
  • Dad’s Navigator – Back in the day, when maps led the way, my sisters and I would take turns being my Dad’s navigator as we traveled from city to city
What other educational elements could be added into my trip curriculum?

Now that my sisters and I are grown we’re still trying to convince our parents to continue this traveling tradition with the 6th grade assignment … country reports. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not we jet off to Scotland, Romania, and Tanzania in the coming years! A girl can hope!

*** APBC - Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting 

Visit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Traveling with a Sick Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her tips and tricks for traveling with a sick child based on firsthand experience.
  • Educational Travel | Pennsylvania, New Mexico &; LouisianaThat Mama Gretchen relives three childhood trips while outlining a plan for future homeschooling adventures.
  • Babymoon: A Cruise in Europe — Bianca from The Pierogie Mama writes about the babymoon that she and her husband took to Europe, via a week long cruise through the Western Mediterranean..
  • Travelling with our little oneStoneageparent describes what travelling means to her family, exploring the link between attachment parenting and travelling
  • I Just Can’t Do It — aNonyMous at Radical Ramblings describes the nightmare it is trying to travel with her daughter, and how for the moment day-trips to local areas will have to suffice.
  • Carnival: Travel and VacationMacgyvermama rounds out her “Travel Light with Babies and Kids” series with some juicy tips on how to travel light and stress free with your moving and grooving Toddler!
  • Traveling: Adventure, Nature, Family — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her hopes and fears for her Great Summer Camping Road Trip with her three small children.
  • Frustration Free Flying with Kids — Based on her extensive experience flying with her family, Laura at Authentic Parenting shares tips on how to make the trip fun for you and your children.
  • 12 Awesome Toys To Bring Along When Traveling With ChildrenAriadne over at Positive Parenting Connection is sharing about toys her children love and playful ways to use them that make travel with children more fun and less stressful for the whole family.
… Oh so many ways to follow along …
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  1. Bianca @ the Pierogi says

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Hannah caught on to your parents' game early and chose her state accordingly ;) what a fun family trip idea! My parents also loved to take us on and we visited the south west and even took a road trip to Chicago once, which is the farthest I've ever gone in a car. Adam and I are saving our trip to the Grand Canyon when our littles can appreciate the geology.

  2. Marybeth Whalen says

    This post hit close to home – I did my state report on Rhode Island as a 5th grader, and when I finally got there as a 21 year old, I felt like a kid in a candy shop! There's a picture of me standing in the Providence airport next to a sign that says "Rhode Island", and you can literally feel the happiness through the picture. Even thinking about it makes me smile. The state was ok – I didn't find anything there that was the coolest thing I'd ever seen – but just getting to finally go and complete that 10 year old's project was priceless!

  3. says

    One day we're going to tour the States… though it would be more for the people than for the historical context ;)

  4. stoneageparent says

    Thanks for sharing your childhood travel experiences. I found it really interesting to read about the link between travel and home education, especially your summary at the bottom. We're planning on home educating our little boy. It is great to hear about other families who are also planning this, who like to travel and see these experiences as valuable, rich educational opportunities. Well done.

  5. ThatMamaGretchen says

    Travel is such a rich experience for families whether they primarily homeschool or just do it as a supplemental activity during the summer. I can't wait!

  6. ThatMamaGretchen says

    That would be super fun too :) A tour of people and the cultures/states they represent!

  7. ThatMamaGretchen says

    We popped into Rhode Island during the PA trip … my only memory: almost getting hit by a car in the crosswalk :( It definitely deserves another trip as I'm sure it has a lot more to offer me!

  8. ThatMamaGretchen says

    I visited the Grand Canyon in high school – just for a day trip while actually visiting Phoenix, but it was AMAZING! I can't wait to go back :)

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