Cost, and crowds. Sometimes, weather.
The first time I did this was when my son was in kindergarten. He missed 5 days of school when we went on a family trip to San Diego in January of 2011. I was able to get a steal of a deal on a timeshare rental, plus we used some frequent flier miles for airline tickets that we would not have been able to use over the summer due to blockout dates. And Legoland, our key destination, was empty! We waited in almost no lines our entire time there.
|Cruising the San Diego harbor|
|Learning how to drive at Legoland|
This time, my son will miss four days of school to go on a Disney Cruise that sails out of Galveston. The cost of this cruise was $1500, compared to a summer price of $4600. Plus, Disney is not sailing out of Galveston over the summer, so we'd have to add on $1000-$1500 for airfare to Florida to cruise over the summer. For us, the cost savings is too ridiculous not to consider vacationing during the school year.
Our school district "allows" up to five days of absences for family trips. The absences are still considered unexcused, but students are allowed to make up work before and after the trip. Last time, and this time, the school administration and my son's teachers have been very cooperative and pleasant about our trips.
We plan on returning to Disney World during the school year sometime. I've been to Disney World during summer and during the off-season, and the crowds during an off-season time can make huge difference in how much we can see and do during a day. And Disney Cruises are very expensive during the summer and winter holidays, so if we take another Disney Cruise it will be during the school year.
Other destinations, like Colorado, I actually prefer to visit over summer vacation. The heat and crowds in the summer are not unbearable.
We will probably pull our kids out of school for vacations until my oldest reaches middle school. At that point, I think it's harder to make up classroom work, especially if we are gone for a full week.
I wouldn't pull my kids out if they had excessive absences due to sickness, or if they were struggling to keep up with school work. But I like having the flexibility to take a vacation during off-season times. The money we save enables us to take more vacations over the years.
This topic is very controversial on travel message boards. I respect everyone's opinions and I think that parents ultimately make the decisions that they feel are best for their kids. Have you taken your kids out of school for a family vacation? Why or why not?