Family Gap Year Itinerary 2023
Planning a family gap year itinerary is exhausting! But the more you can plan ahead, the less exhausting it will be while you are traveling. If you are a planner, like me, you will want to know exactly where your family will be traveling on your family gap year, where you will be staying, how you will get around, and so much more. A family gap year itinerary is a must!
How Did We Plan Our Family Gap Year Itinerary?
So, how did we plan our family gap year itinerary? What was our original itinerary, and did that change? Yes it did! It changed so many times over. Every time I spoke with someone new, their perspective made me reconsider our plans with new information.
Download our COMPLETE GUIDE to planning your Family Gap Year.
Every. Single. Thing. You need to know is in that guide!
Below is our very first family gap year itinerary. All things considered, this itinerary was put together painstakingly and with much thought. Then it was finally changed over and over again! This is what I originally planned for our Family Gap Year.
Family Gap Year Itinerary: Where to Travel
When I began to plan our family gap year itinerary, I was much more comfortable traveling in Europe than anywhere else in the World. Although I wanted to challenge myself in being more adventurous than I might usually be, having been to Europe a number of times provided me with a sense of security.
Despite that sense of comfort, I was grappling with the issue of weather and visas, though. I knew we would want to spend a huge amount of time in Europe for our family gap year itinerary, but unfortunately the tourist visas for the Schengen Zone only allow 90 days out of 180 days. To do all the things we wanted to do, in a slow travel way, would take so much longer.
Eventually, I decided over time to skip the large, tourist cities like Paris and Rome. My kids were only 10 and 11, and they could always come back to those places. They would probably appreciate them more as teens and young adults anyway.
Once we narrowed down a few smaller cities and countryside drives in Europe, I set my sights on Iceland (technically still EU, since its in the Schengen zone) and the United Kingdom (not in the Schengen zone).
But, as I started to share my plans with others, so many people recommended going WEST, rather than EAST. And THAT put a wrench in our family gap year itinerary.
Why Did We Decide to Travel West Rather than East for our Family Gap Year Itinerary?
After some digging, I eventually realized that traveling WEST would allow for easier adjustment to time zones. It would also allow us to chase shoulder seasons (spring and fall), never be too hot or too cold, and avoid tourist seasons in most of our destinations.
As far as adjusting to time zones, it was easier to travel a few hours back, by starting in Ontario, Canada and heading west to Jasper National Park and Vancouver. From there, hopping a flight to Hawaii was a breeze. And that begun our family gap year itinerary.
From Hawaii to New Zealand or Australia was just a few more hours, and from there to Southeast Asia was a breeze.
Continuing to move west from SE Asia to Israel and Morocco, then the UK and into Europe helped us to adjust to each time zone in smaller increments.
Things To Consider When Planning a Family Gap Year Itinerary
All the beautiful pictures on Instagram, and all the posts on Facebook and Pinterest can make you feel overwhelmed. Trying to make your family gap year itinerary perfect is a pure waste of your time and energy.
It is important to consider YOUR family. Be honest with yourself about who you are (see my post about Traveling as an Introvert), and the strengths, weaknesses and needs of each member of the family. It would truly be terrible to set yourself and your family up for high expectations that are destined to fail.
The most important things I considered when planning our Family Gap Year Itinerary were the following:
- Consider your Budget.
The number one thing is budget. Be true to your family’s budget and consider the cost of specific destinations. My post about how much Worldschooling costs is a good place to start.
- Consider Time or Location Constraints.
If you or your spouse will be working, consider the hours you need to be available, the time zone those hours have to correspond to, and locations that have reliable internet access. Be sure you know about VPN’s for securing your digital information while traveling as well.
I find that knocking out work early in the morning, while BeachDad gets the kids ready and fed for the day is ideal for me. I am not a night owl, and I prefer not to work after a long day of exploring. On the other hand, BeachDad regularly spends the late afternoon or evening clearing his work inbox, zooming into meetings, or handling his responsibilities while I wind the day down with the kids and work on dinner.
- Consider the Activities your Family Loves.
We are a family who loves nature, but also likes to be comfortable. We love beaches, but don’t love being overly hot and sweaty at all times. We enjoy city exploring, but not every single day. For us, a variety of locations that offered a variety of experiences was a good compromise for all our needs and wants.
- Consider the Activities your Family WANTS to Love…But May Not.
We like to think we are super adventurous. But really, it’s usually me egging on the rest of the family. BeachDad and the kids would rather explore nature through light hikes or strolls, or swimming in the ocean. And truth be told, I am a little afraid of high cliffs. So, we choose adventures that are just adventurous enough for US. Not for instagram, not for my friend at home, but for US.
- Consider Slow Travel vs. City Hopping
Will you slow travel and visit less destinations, or city hop quickly? My post on how to grow yourself and your children into Global Citizens, not just tourists, may change your mind.
- Consider Accommodations.
Are you comfortable staying in all types of accommodations? Of course luxury hotels would be nice at all times, but if you are on a budget, you will need to be ok with basic hotels, family hostels, long term apartment rentals, camping, RV’ing, and other options.
- Consider the Weather.
What weather do you love? Some families love to snow ski, others enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving. And others just like to live in the comfortable in-between. My goal was to be in that comfortable in-between for most of our travels. We would make a point to spend some time in warm, beachy places, and enjoy some winter snow as well. But overall, spring and fall are our preferred seasons.
- Consider Travel Contacts
Do you have friends or family around the world? Are you hoping to link up with a Worldschooling Hub or Pop Up event?
We happen to have family in Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, France, Israel, and England. Those were places we definitely wanted to visit, and hoped to stay with family or gather local travel tips from them!
If you are traveling with children, you will want to follow the Worldschooling community on facebook as well. There are pop ups, meet ups, hubs, and other regularly scheduled events around the world.
Our (condensed) Original Itinerary for Family Gap Year
- Niagara Falls to Toronto
- Toronto to Edmonton to Jasper National Park
- Edmonton to Vancouver & Vancouver Island
- Vancouver to Honolulu
- Honolulu to Australia
- Australia to New Zealand
- New Zealand to Bali, Indonesia
- Bali to South Korea
- South Korea to Thailand
- Thailand to Israel
- Israel to Morocco
- Morocco to Ireland
- Ireland to Scotland
- Scotland to England
March, April, May
- 90 Days in the EU
- Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Sicily, Spain, Portugal