Private School Out of Town Field Trips- Do You Afford to Send Your Kids or Not

Updated on September 04, 2013
R.P. asks from Studio City, CA
22 answers

I have 3 kids in Private school , 2 come from a split household (stepkids, parttime) the other our SON together just started Kindy. My DH is responsible for all school expenses including any field trips (per his discretion) Of course we could ask the mom to pitch in , but my question is this, how many of you have sent or would send your kid on a field trip that cost more than 1K, (this years field trip is fund raised and parent's pay and 5th grade is getting to go to Washington, DC). Also do you think a 5th grade girl is old enough to do this on her own? As a family WE love to vacation together. I can see families that do not like to travel together BUT have the finances to afford this loving this idea, great experience for kids they do not have to travel unelss they feel uncomfortable etc..
but my question is would you afford to go and not take your family vacation together that year if the cost was 1-2grand? and would you go w/ the child and keep the other children back?

I'm torn I get the experience and all but all our kids have the same school/spring break and we usually travel together on a special trip. her trip would be during part of our spring break and also take away from our fudning for our family trips?

torn what to do ?

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So What Happened?

My two skids are 10 and 13. Our youngest is 5 just started kindy. The next trips will be 8th grade which is the other dilemma seeing stepson is in 8th grade. That trip takes them south for a civil war reenactment. They also get school retreats (fully funded by school) in 6th and 9th grade. Lots of opportunities. My youngest is 5 . The big trips are 5th, 8th and possibly senior year not sure. Dh and I agreed that a big European trip would be a family thing so might be best to talk this all out with them now. They get these trips if grades, behavior, etc but don't count on an all expense paid trip to Europe as my dh has family there so wed choose to do that as a family. I love the idea of her helping, compromising the family trips etc. the kids changed schools in the last two years so this is new to us as the other school only had one field trip that was costly. I do agree its a great experience, but yes it all depends on many many factors before making a final decision. Thank u for helping me and giving me some great ideas. And yes she'd fly we are in Los Angeles.

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answers from Seattle on

Send her. There is no way the trip is anywhere near the cost of sending three kiddos to private school. These trips are common and a great way to gain independence, which is a good thing.

Have her try to raise some funds herself (or through other family members), but cover the rest. And take the other family members on vacation, even if it's a cheaper vacation than originally considered.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I came to DC in 7th and 8th grade - we rode buses from Boston to DC and both trips were AMAZING! I am so thankful my parents let me take the trips.

My daughter (10) was just invited on a trip to Alaska next summer - we are going to listen to what the offer is, but it's not with her school, just with other local students - so I think we are skipping beause she won't know anyone and has never been that far from home.

Now if it was with her class, we would absolutely make it work for her. What an AMAZING experience for her. But only if you can afford it.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

I think you're going to need to learn how to compromise, especially as your kids get older.
More and more they will have activities that clash with family plans, school trips, sports tournaments and camps, church and scout things, etc.
The cost is one thing, that's a choice based on your family's needs. But holding my kids back from these life enriching activities because they happen to fall during times we normally go on vacation? No I don't do that. Many, many times we have adjusted and rearranged our vacation schedules to allow our kids to participate in certain events and activities.
Also, if it's a fifth grade trip I doubt other siblings are allowed, so no I wouldn't bring them. If I was going on the trip with my fifth grader I'd leave the other kids home with my husband.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I would figure out a way to let my child go. Are you paying the full 1K out of pocket or are you paying whatever can't be fund raised? To me, this is just an opportunity of a lifetime. Can you use tax returns towards part of the trip or can you use tax returns towards a family trip in the summer when schools out and something less expensive. There will be teachers and other class parents going, she'll be fine. No, I would not go with my child because that would cost extra and would have no one to watch the other kids.
You should ask the mom to pitch in. SHe might just say yes.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I think there are other things that would help to know... Is she the oldest? I assume so. Will there be a trip every year from now on or it's only say 5th grade and 10th grade? If so, this is fairly unique. Does she really want to go? Is virtually everyone else going? I think 5th grade is young. Looks like it's cross country. It wouldn't be a problem financially for us but I'd hate the idea anyway. Why do they have to start these things so young?... If she's mature though and there's not a trip next year and she really really wants to go and virtually everyone else is and she's ok giving up the family vacation, then I would let her go and either take the rest of the family to DC to meet her at the end or pick her up and go some place fun nearby or I'd make our family vacation without her a bit cheaper. If she's the oldest, your other kids are young enough that they dno't need anything fancy. And I don't see why her mom shouldn't pay some! And if this is annual and you have 3 kids at this school or will be, you'll have to make a global plan. It may have to be no one ever goes bc sending all 3 will be too expensive if you have any kind of family vacation too.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Well, here's the thing....they might be assuming that you CAN afford the trip since you have three kids going to their private school.

Now, if I were to send my 5th grader (10 year old) across the country for a field trip. I would have to know:

WHERE they are staying - DC isn't just some section - it's huge. And some parts are NOT good are they staying in Maryland or Virginia and taking charter buses into DC every day?

WHO are they staying with - what's the chaperone situation? How many kids to a room? What adult will be staying in the room?

WHAT will they be doing for the field trip. There's soooo much to do here it's not even funny...and we're NOT even talking JUST DC - we're talking the battlefields around here - Gettysburg, Winchester, Antietam, Fredricksburg, Manassass.... that's just a few....

Does not going affect a grade? If not going means my child might lose a full grade or credit - I need to know these things...

Would I send all three? Only if I could afford it.
Would I go with them? Only if I could afford it.
Need to make a choice/decision about what you NEED and what you WANT. Family vacations are great. Education is important too...

Other things to my child MATURE enough to be gone for one week without me? If the answer is NO. Then the decision is already made and no reason to ponder other issues.

I would seriously look into the budget and see where things can be "fixed" to allow things to happen. Maybe instead of a week vacation during Spring Break - you can do a long weekend over Memorial Day. Vacations do NOT have to extravagant nor do they have to be far in Los Angeles - if that's really where you live - then you have Santa Barbara north of you - great place to stay!!! You have San Diego south of you...much to do there as have to look at more than just ONE thing...and ONE idea...what you have done in the you always have to do it that way? No. So think outside the box in regards to family trips.

If your daughter is mature enough to follow the rules, stick with the group and behave - and be without me for one week - then I would send her..

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Of course she will be old enough,. That is why they planned the trip. The teachers will be there.

This has nothing to do with family vacations, this is a school trip.

Remember next year this child will be in middle school. Football games, basketball games, dances.. etc..

Let her go and you and the rest of the family go camping or do a fun staycation.. As your children get older and become more involved in all sorts of activities, you will be making a lot of changes. The kids will be going in all directions at once. That is just a part of being a parent of multiple children.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

If it prevented us taking a family vacation together, then probably not. If it is supported financially through fundraising, and the remaining cost wouldn't prevent a family vacation, then sure, let her go.

If the 2nd scenario is the case, and you can only go on a family vacation at the same time as the DC trip, which means that child won't go with you on your family vacation, then I'd let your child decide what they want to do.

As far as trips and private school... pretty much, expect this to be the norm. It is part and parcel of what they do. We live in a small town, and by many people's standards the private school we had our kids in for a few years was dirt cheap (around $9,000 tuition for the two of them in elementary). They were always going on field trips. Some were local and cheap ($20 fee to go across town and make pottery), some were multi-day overnight trips (4-H camps hours away and overnight on chartered buses, multi-nights at Disney, etc). End of the year stuff was at the local touristy water park, not an on campus event. That sort of thing. It is to be expected.

So, when you are budgeting for school, be sure you include these costs. They aren't likely to go away...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

This sounds like THE 5th Grade "Graduation" type trip. I would do whatever it takes to send her on this trip - it is educational and is a great time to bond with her friends and get the independence she is needing within reason.

I am picking up on some resentment in your post (maybe it is b/c I am from a home with divorced parents and my 1st stepmother was resentful of my Dad paying for things for us that didn't include her children). I would tell my daughter that b/c this trip is a big trip, financially, that she will need to help with the cost
1)she needs to ask Grandparents/Godparents/etc. to contribute instead of Bday gifts or Graduation gifts
2) your husband should talk to his ex about splitting the cost of this
3) let her earn some of the money herself....babysitting/garage sale/chores for neighbors/etc..

Either way - I would say that your husband and his ex have final say and you honestly don't but if you stand in the way of this by saying it "take away from our fudning for our family trips" you are telling your husband to choose you or her.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

You chose to send her to private school so she would have experiences and opportunities that would not be a part of public school, right? But now you don't want to send her on these opportunities and experiences.

I would send her. This is the best part of school - getting to experience these things with the people you will bond with for 12 years in an educational enviornment.

Private school ALREADY deducts from your family buget. Why not just consider this an extension of the cost of school and plan your family vacation in the summer, when everyone can attend.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Why not let her go and then pick her up at Wash DC and continue on with your family vacation? This would please you both. Does she want to go? If so and you can afford it then I would let her go as long as there are plenty of responsible adults going as well. I would definitely ask mom to help out if she can. You know her finances better than we do. What does mom think about her going?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think the answer is multi-faceted. I would speak to the school about any fundraising opportunities and the educational benefits of this trip. Will she be missing out on something special if she doesn't go? What does she think? Is she mature enough to go and to appreciate the field trip cost? When I was in HS, the language classes were offered an opportunity to go to Europe. I was simply unable to raise the money. It wasn't even something I could remotely consider. Even though DH is footing educational expenses, $1K is huge. I'd consider that a cost that he needs to talk to his ex about. That and the timing, etc. If her going on this trip meant that the family as a whole suffered, then no. I would not skip a family (even a partial family) trip for one child to attend. This is 5th grade, not senior year.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

From what I see, you guys paying 1k for her to go on this special field trip means that you can't afford for the rest of the family to go on a vacation?

I would discuss how much you CAN afford to contribute to this special trip and still be able to vacation as a family. She will have to fundraise the rest if she wishes to go.

You'd be surprised at how many local business and family members are willing to contribute toward something like that if she REALLY wants to go!

There were special trips when I was in school that my family could not afford for me to do, and I was not able to fundraise. Sometimes that's life.

Really, it's a family decision to maybe take a cheaper vacation and pay toward her trip and let her fundraise the rest. If the other kids will eventually reach that age where they can go on an expensive school trip then it will all be fair in the end. If I were you, I'd vacation while she's away with the rest of the family and let her enjoy the experience on her own. I think the rest of your family would not care if they went on a slightly smaller vacation that year, knowing that when they get older it will be their turn!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

No. I would not in any way let a little kid go to Washington DC. That area is a super high crime area. One of the highest in our nation. No way I'd let my kiddo fly that far then allow them to be supervised by anyone but me.

I suggest you guys go on vacation that week someplace super special. Like Disney or something. Maybe even join the trip but on your own terms. She stays with your family, she stays with you at night, she can join her friends for some meals and some specific places. That way she is part of the trip but not totally.

Find out if the school would allow you to have their itinerary and allow your child to tag along at your discretion.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Of course she is old enough to go - that's why the school planned it! I doubt that the school expects (or wants) every parent to attend.

She is also old enough to fundraise part of the trip cost. She can think creatively about ways to do that.

Do not underestimate the importance of this trip. Her education might suffer if she misses this experience - it is part of her schooling, like homework!

It is also an important part of her growing up, new experiences, gaining independence. (You should not try to send her siblings with her - I doubt that the school would permit that anyway.)

Remember that this trip has NOTHING to do with your family vacations. This is a school trip. But family vacations are also important. You should definitely take great family vacations at other times (and make sure your daughter fundraises enough money to make that possible).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to the world of the "haves" and the "have nots".
I worked at 2 very prestigious private schools. The families had all kinds of money and a trip to ski in Italy every February with the school was expected - from 6th thru 12th grade. Not a cheap trip, trust me on that. If you didn't participate in that trip, they had 4 others for you to choose from -- all expensive and all during February break. There were a few families who chose to keep their kids home or vacation elsewhere. Those families were typically the "have nots".
Personally, I'd skip the over priced trip to DC and go some where as a family - even if it were just to the grocery store. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Private school and out of town field trips. Well, you put her in the school and you should have thought it through a bit better. Anything that comes up like a trip is extra. You have three children and you are going to have to "budget" for the extras.

That is why so many people are in the public school system as their budgets will not allow for the extras and privileges.

Is It mandatory that you have these big family vacations yearly? What do you want your children to experience growing up? Where can you cut back in order to afford the trips that will be coming school and family? Do you have a retirement fund in place? If you answer no to any of the above, you need to rethink your finances.

the other S.

PS It would not be that hard to ask the mom to contribute to the cause of her child going on the trips in private school. Get rid of the resentment or it will carry over into your everyday life.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Odessa on

My kids would not go unless I could attend as a chaperone.
Our former private school has now cancelled all out of state trips due to cost and liability. It also created a real issue for the kids whose parents had to raise money because they did 8-16 fundraisers. People with money didn't have to do any and resented having to spend their Saturdays at Walmart.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

For what it's worth, my daughter taught fifth grade at a private Christian school for twelve years. Their big annual trip was in the spring, to Santa Fe, New Mexico (only a few hours away). The class spent all year earning money for it. Parents certainly contributed, but they contributed toward the class fund, not just their own child; the aim was for every student to be able to go. This was the only field trip for which there was no searching for chaperones - lots of moms and dads were eager to go along and pay their own way! All the kids learned quite a bit, were completely safe, and had a great experience.

Your situation is rather different, but I'm telling you this story to show you that many fifth graders can handle long trips. Talk to the school about it if you're concerned - you won't be the first parent to do it. Since this seems to be a new event to you, you may want to find out if (as I suspect) trips during short school vacations will become pretty common. In that case, you may want to revise your family vacation plans - not cancel them completely, but manage them differently, with the school trip schedule in mind. I can't imagine the school's not having more (and bigger) trips as students grow older. Your child's friends' parents, especially ones with older children, would be people whose brains you'd want to pick.



answers from Detroit on

Flying I would let her go.
But not on a bus; too dangerous.
The most we ever paid for a field trip is ten dollars. I would never do one thousand to go to DC. We've been there and for a 10-year-old, not sure why it'd be worth it at all.


answers from Washington DC on

no way would i put a school trip above the family vacation.
a 5th grader should be fine on a sleepaway school trip with good guardians. my kids did several, some of which i went on as well.
but if you can't afford it without cutting in on the family trip, just say no.



answers from Las Vegas on

My daughter and I just went. It was great during the day, with no issues. At sunset/dusk, we sat outside to eat our dinner at a restaurant that had a patio table and a drug deal started to go down behind me. We got up and moved inside and I could see the guy looking in the window to see what I was going to do. It was just me and my 7 year old, so I was a little nervous, but it was fine.

So a wonderful and educational trip, however, that is a lot of money and there are a lot of people out there. You don't mention what the chaperone ratio is.

When my daughter had a school trip to Europe in high school, I went too. Almost all the other kids were there on their own and my poor daughter was one of the only kids there with her mom...but I wouldn't have it any other way and she survived.

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