Far from a leisurely job that offers bankers’ hours and summers off, careers in education routinely require an increasing amount of resources — including educators’ most valuable one, time. As personal budgets shrink and stress increases, many teachers struggle to plan and budget for much-needed vacations.
Educators need time away to relax and recharge. Vacations can help lower risk of heart disease, decrease rates of depression and increase job performance. In addition, making memories and exploring new locales can be inspiring.
“Travel brings perspective,” says Spencer Mak, Operations Manager at International Cruise & Excursions. “Learning and teaching are not confined to chalkboards. One of my most profound moments was walking into a classroom in China with no chairs, no desks, no chalkboard, no computers. The students were so motivated to learn, and they did not allow their lack of resources to hinder them. That experience kept me motivated.”
The benefits of vacations mean even budget-conscious teachers should plan at least one trip every year, whether it’s a fun break with the family or a lesson plan-enriching experience.
Here are 5 tips to help educators plan an affordable summer getaway.
1. Use your membership benefits
Some education organizations offer travel planning and cost assistance, including discounts, flexible payment plans and rate guarantees.
Jenifer Almassy of the Michigan Education Association used the NEA Travel Program to plan a family vacation. “When you’re able to purchase something as expensive as four days of Disney and get three free — it was awesome. It was great savings for me and my family.”
2. Don’t disdain the staycation
Day trips don’t require flight or hotel reservations, and it’s easy to pack affordable meals to take on local jaunts. Include visits to museums, galleries or the theater, as well as festivals and fairs in your area.
3. Check out volunteering abroad
One way for teachers to turn their summers into cheap global travel that doubles as life experience is to partner with volunteer organizations. English language instructors are always needed, and organizations often assist with costs. Research companies that offer both volunteerism and tourism options that best fit your needs.
4. Team up for discounts
Planning your vacations with your fellow educators can defray costs and inject a sense of camaraderie into your travels. Guided tour companies typically have itineraries designed around interests and budgets. Most tour companies also offer monthly payment plans.
5. Stay grounded to cut costs
One thing teachers have during summer break that others lack is time, so save money by driving or taking a bus or train to your vacation destination. Rent a car to go on those special weekend getaways or one-tank trips to spare wear-and-tear on your own vehicle.
Don’t let a lack of planning time or a strict budget keep you from taking a vacation this summer. Education organizations such as NEA Member Benefits are focused on helping teachers find affordable vacation options, and they also offer useful advice on planning trips — from where to go and how to save money — to their members (pro tip: sign up for their free travel newsletter).
Summer is a time to devote to yourself and your family — to grow, to relax and most of all to enjoy. It’s also a time to experience an adventure with a little help from your peers and available resources. Where will you go this summer?
Jeffrey Somers, [email protected]