Letting Kids Miss School For Family Vacations

- Don't lie. Your approach should be "How can I make this work?" not "How can I pull one over on the principal?" Besides, if you say your kids need to miss a week of school for Great-Aunt Edna's funeral and word gets out you actually went to Disney World, you're going to lose the respect of everyone at your kids' school.

- Look for ways to minimize the number of school days your kids have to miss. If there's a staff in-service day on a Tuesday, you could travel from late Friday afternoon to Tuesday night. That means just one excused absence day. Also, airfare might be lower if you leave the Friday before a scheduled vacation week rather than Saturday morning. Better to miss that one day than a full week of classes in your quest for cheaper flights.

- Don't tell the school the purpose of your trip is educational if it's not—it's a slap in the face to the teachers. Taking the kids to Venice and spending your days viewing Renaissance frescoes is one thing but taking the kids to the Venetian and letting them hang out at the pool all day because you have to be in Vegas for a conference is quite another.

- If you want to save money and still travel during school vacation weeks, choose a non-stereotypical family spring break destination. Hotels in Florida might jack up their prices because they expect an influx of families, but you might get a great deal on a hotel in Chicago.

- Finally, talk to your kids. They may not want to miss school and deal with making up work (which can be significant, especially in AP or honors classes), or they may not want to miss out on sports and extracurricular activities. And I don't know about you, but in my opinion, saving money by traveling during the school year isn't worth it if your kid's not happy to be on vacation in the first place.

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