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Family travel: Adventure needn't end once school year starts

If there isn't time for a big vacation, set aside a day and go hiking with the family; it's the experience -- not the venue, experts say. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Imgorthand

When the school bell rings, must travel plans come to end? Here are five ways to keep your travel dreams on track while school is in session.

KNOW YOUR OPTIONS Scan the school, sports and activity calendars to assess opportunities. Pair those results with your work and personal calendars for the best picture possible. Do any family members have milestone birthdays, reunions or anniversary...

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When the school bell rings, must travel plans come to end? Here are five ways to keep your travel dreams on track while school is in session.

KNOW YOUR OPTIONS Scan the school, sports and activity calendars to assess opportunities. Pair those results with your work and personal calendars for the best picture possible. Do any family members have milestone birthdays, reunions or anniversary celebrations in the works that you won't want to miss? Once you've reviewed commitments and calendars you are ready to plan.

ADVANCE PLANNING Taking time to create a thoughtful wish list can make it easier to plan for meaningful vacations. By crafting a strategy in advance and executing early, you'll have more flight options, your pick of tour departures, the best cabins on a cruise ship and more options in popular resort areas.

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A DAY HERE, A WEEK THERE? Does it make sense to snag a few days from the school calendar to learn and experience the world outside the walls of the classroom? That's a decision only parents can make. If you do decide to travel while school is in session, you'll find fewer crowds, better prices and expanded options.

THE VACATION MINDSET The true value of a family vacation has less to do with boarding a snazzy cruise ship or checking in to a faraway resort. It's more about the quality of a shared experience. When time is short, go fishing, hiking or horseback riding for a day. Visit a water or theme park. Spend the night at a nearby hotel. Camp in a state park or even your own backyard and enjoy the mini-getaway.

A FAMILY SABBATICAL For those who would like to travel deeper, immerse in a culture or simply see the world with the kids while they can, a longer adventure may fit the bill. Consider planning a lengthy holiday — weeks, months, even a year — with the kids. Many who have chosen this path report that the transformative experience was well worth upsetting the family apple cart.