Obama EncounterJust as the leaves begin to fall, so do travel prices, making autumn a more affordable time to travel. To take advantage of these more reasonable rates, more and more families are prepared to take children out of school and get in that family vacation.

While there’s no question that travel can provide an education beyond what is learned in the classroom, schools are not always willing to let you trade a trip – no matter its rich educational possibilities – for your child’s physical presence in school. In fact, many school administrators are getting tough regarding this practice, issuing stern warnings and threating fines in an attempt to deter parents from traveling during the school term.

The international school in the Netherlands that my children attend boasts a student body with well over 150 nationalities, and while the school appreciates and encourages travel, it strongly discourages taking kids out of school to do it and has a School Leave Policy in place to prevent it from happening.

Under the School Leave Policy, which is in line with those in place at schools throughout Europe, some of the occasions for which special leave is granted are for the serious illness or death of close relative, wedding of close relative, special anniversary of grandparents or parents and recognized religious festivals.

A few years ago, I requested and was granted special leave to attend the inauguration of President Obama. At the time my oldest daughter was in the equivalent of 2nd grade and my younger daughter was in pre-school, and nothing they missed during those 3 days they were absent from school would have the same educational impact as attending such an historical event.

Parents who take their children out of school to travel and have not been granted special leave risk incurring a fine if caught. Leerplicht (truancy) patrols comb the airports during the days before and after designated school holiday periods checking to make sure students aren’t missing days without official permission getting caught is possible. However, since the fines are usually small when compared to the amount saved to travel during non-peak times, it is risk many are willing to take.

What are thoughts on taking kids out of school to travel? Have you ever done it?

Be sure to read TravelingMom with Teens for tips on taking kids out of school to travel.