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Letting Kids Miss School for Family Vacations

So, what's the lesser evil—pulling your kids out of school for vacation, or paying a premium to travel during scheduled breaks? Every parent I know has struggled with this at some point. Clearly, though, the data shows that many of us are taking our kids out of school. Last week, a poll conducted exclusively for showed 78 percent of 1,709 respondents with kids have let them miss school for a family vacation.

Family togetherness… getting a glimpse of different cultures… seeing historical sites in person… what's not to like about that? My daughter already has a better understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg at age 8 than I did in high school. Climbing around on Little Round Top is a heck of a lot more compelling than reading a history textbook's dry account of what happened there.

But the main attraction for many parents is simple—it's cheaper to travel during the academic year than during scheduled breaks, especially if you're flying. If you ever want to know when a particular major city's public schools are on spring break, look no further than airfare prices. Nonstop round-trip flights on JetBlue from Boston to Nassau are $1,447 per person (including taxes and fees) during the Boston public school system's April vacation week. The same flights the week before are only $817. For a family of four, that's a savings of $2,520 on the flights alone...