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The Unexpected Education in Travel

Travel, educational travel in particular, enhances learning in very real ways by making our studies come to life. But is there more to the journey? What else do we come home with? 


Great work reaps great rewards!


Often the learning starts before the journey even begins! I was privileged to travel with my two oldest girls on trips to Europe to cap off their high school education. As a traveler familiar with the cost of this kind of adventure, I knew we were going to have to do some fundraising. We had to work hard, be creative, and set goals. We tried some things that worked well, and some that didn’t. What was incredible was how much learning came out of the fundraising experience before we even left the states. 



We used the business strategy of SMART goals to decide which fundraisers were right for us. SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant and Timely. We chose to do things that we were already skilled at, required minimal investment, and could be done in a set time frame. Based on our experiences, here are some fundraising suggestions to consider:


  • Sell homemade food! We sold homemade frozen lasagna dinners complete with a loaf of garlic bread and tray of brownies to our homeschool co-op friends, family and other friends in our local community, charging about double what the ingredients cost.


  • Babysit! With the holidays around the corner, everyone could use a hand. We offered 3 nights of babysitting in 4 hour blocks each night at a suggested donation rate.


  • Sell items at holiday markets and bazaars. We happened to have a large collection of broken vintage costume jewelry and repurposed the beads into new items including earrings, rings and bracelets. This kept the supply costs very minimal. 


  • Not sure what to charge at a holiday market? Consider a donation box! At the same holiday market where we sold jewelry, we also made fancy gift tags and clothespin magnets to hold recipes (including some from our family)! People could have their choice free with a donation. People not only loved the recipes, it gave us the opportunity to talk about the trip and why it was important to us. 


  • Host a yard sale! You can sell items you own, but also ask others for donations to be sold, as well. This a great option for people to help you beyond a financial contribution.


  • Have a special skill? Share it! Everyone in our family plays the ukulele. We put together a 12 week beginner curriculum and offered 45 minute group lessons sold in 12-week blocks for $150. We had 5-7 students each time and were able to do this 2-3 times during our fundraising period. This particular fundraiser was incredibly successful! 


These ideas and services can be adapted to individual skill sets. Maybe you don’t make lasagna from scratch, but you have a killer chocolate chip cookie recipe! Perhaps instead of babysitting, you do yard work in your neighborhood. If a yard sale is out of the question, perhaps try a virtual yard sale on Craigslist or FB. Need something entirely different? Use the SMART goal strategy and get creative!


The life lessons from this fundraising experience have been valuable, long lasting, and satisfying. Not only did my girls explore their entrepreneurial sides, they also both developed real life skills and discovered new interests they now have in their arsenal of marketable skills. They now know how to use SMART goals to help them reach future objectives. They also learned how to be grateful and humble when others chose to support them and to be thankful in return. The bigger lesson though, is that goals that are worth meeting can be achieved with tenacity, focus, and hard work, or grit. The girls met their goals and were able to enjoy the experience even more because we knew that we had earned it. Their adventure and all that went into getting there helped shape them into the confident and capable young adults they are today.



Wendy is the resident homeschool specialist at Academic Expeditions. She is especially excited to help homeschool students, families and groups plan their trip of a lifetime.

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