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Affordable Homeschool Field Trips

Field trips have always been one of our favorite parts of homeschooling.  We learn so much on our homeschool field trips and they are a great way to break out of our routine when we feel the need.  They often give us a chance to apply what we have been learning, deepen our knowledge of a topic, and/or provide background knowledge for future learning.  And they are fun!

Affordable Homeschool Field Trips

However, homeschool field trips can be expensive.  But, they don’t have to be!  Below are ideas for free field trips and ways to get creative with discounts so that you can afford several great field trips a year.  Many of the items on this list were curated from our community.  If you have an idea to add to this post, comment at the bottom or email us.

And here are some ideas for planning your homeschool field trip and getting the most out of it!

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Visit Local Businesses and Government Offices

Many local places will give you a tour for free if you ask.  You may need to pull together a group to make it worth their time or they may be willing to do a tour just for your family.  We were at the bank one day taking care of some business and the man helping us asked my boys if they wanted a tour.  So we all got to see where the safety deposit boxes are kept and some of the security around the vault.

See if your local grocery store, bakery, post office, veterinarian, doctor’s office, sports stadium, police department, or fire department will give you a tour. But it doesn’t even need to be a formal tour!  On a regular trip to the doctor’s office, tell them you homeschool and ask them if they can share some information to make the visit a homeschool experience.  And any grocery store visit can turn into a life skills or math lesson.

Boy shopping at a grocery store looking at his list as part of a homeschool field trip.

You could also see if the library will give you a behind the scenes tour while you are there and check out what kind of programming they have that might be fun for your homeschoolers.

Our National Weather Service Forecast Office also does free tours.  Find the one near you and see if they offer the same opportunity.

Another free homeschool field trip for older kids is to attend a town, city, or county council meeting.  If you live near your state capitol, you may be able to sit in their legislative proceedings and visit with some of your elected leaders.

Museum and Theatre Discounts

Of course, museums and theatres make great homeschool field trips, but can get expensive.  So here is how you can get creative…

Museums for All: For families who are receiving food assistance (SNAP) there over 1200 museums that provide free or reduced admission.  See which museums near you participate.

Veteran’s Discount: Some museums discount tickets for veterans and their families, but you might have to ask for it.  We saved almost 50% on our entire family’s admission to the Great Lakes Science Center this way last year.  Veterans and their immediate families also receive free admission to National Parks.

Boy standing outside of large ship at the Great Lakes Science Center as part of a homeschool field trip.

Educator’s Discount: Many museums offer discounts to educators and include homeschoolers in this category.  And some offer specific homeschooling discounts.  Always ask before you pay for your tickets!  We have rarely been turned down.

AAA: If you are a AAA member, don’t forget to ask museums if they have a AAA discount.  It might only be a few dollars, but it is worth asking!

State Homeschool Association Deals: Many state homeschool associations will organize group discounts to specific events or to museums on specific days.  By buying your ticket through them, you can receive the discount.  Our state does not even require that you are a paying member of the association.

Free days/evenings: Many museums will have a free day once a month or one free evening during each week.  See what your local museums offer and go at that time.

Pay What You Can: Many small theatres will have a performance for each play they produce that is a “pay what you can” performance.  So you can attend by making a small donation, rather than paying full price for tickets.

Check out membership passes from your library: So a few members of our community told me about this free way to visit museums that I had never heard about!  Basically, their library system purchases several museum, zoo, and/or aquarium membership passes each year and then you can check one out like you would a book.  You use it to visit the museum as a member and then return the pass to the library.  Genius!  Ask the librarians at your local branch if your library offers anything like this.

Buy a Yearly Membership: Pick a museum you think you would like to visit multiple times over the next year and buy a membership for the year.  We have found that for many museums, the cost of two visits is equal to the cost of the membership and any further visits that year are “free”.  When the kids were younger, they were happy to visit the same museum multiple times.  Now that they are older this works best if the museum has a temporary exhibit space.  Then, we make sure to go each time a new exhibit opens.  Like this Marvel exhibit that was at our museum last year…

Mom and two boys standing in front of large Marvel Universe of Super Heroes sign at a museum on a homeschool field trip.

Free State Museums: If you live near your state capital, they may have free state museums you can visit.  The state capital here in North Carolina has multiple museums that are free including large history, science and art museums.  Even if you don’t live real close to your capital, it may be worth an overnight trip.

Local Recreation Centers: Visiting your local YMCA or your town’s recreation center to play basketball may not feel like a field trip, but they can be great ways to get out and do something.  Many offer sliding fee scales and may have a lot more activities to offer than you realize.

Get Outside

When the weather is nice, getting outside is the perfect free or low cost way to have a field trip.  Instead of going to your usual park, make a point to visit different parks around you. Hikes are a great way to learn and there are all sorts of nature study activities you could engage in.  Looking at landforms as you hike and talking about geology is just one of them…

And don’t forget that 4th graders receive a FREE National Parks Pass for one year.  The site states that this includes the “homeschool equivalent” of fourth grade.

If you live in a more urban area, go for a public art scavenger hunt.  Walk around and see how many different pieces of art you can find.  How many are paintings and how many are sculptures?  What media was used?  See if you can find out who the artist is and look up a little information about them.  You could even pick a color or a certain shape and see how many of that color or shape you can find in the different pieces of art.

You could also go on a history walk.  See if you can find a local walking tour guide for your area.  We have been able to find a few that took us through older neighborhoods and gave us some history of the buildings, homes, and the area.  We have also been known to walk through old cemeteries and imagine stories for the families buried there.  Or you can even learn history while walking by a football stadium…

What other ideas do you have for homeschool field trips that we could add?  As I said many of these ideas were curated from our community!  Parents often have the best ideas…if you have an idea to add to this post, comment at the bottom or email us.

 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Robin

    Hi, Randi. Thought of another field trip idea – virtual ones. Since COVID-19, I’ve noticed several museums and historic homes have a link on their website for a virtual visit. You can at least get a peek inside places you’d like to go but don’t live close enough to visit. And it’s free!

    1. Randi Smith

      Yes, the virtual field trips can be great. I will add that. I have found that many that were available in 2020, have since been taken down or put behind paywalls. 🙁 But there are still some out there. If you have any favorites, feel free to share!

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