Great for Homeschooling - The ASTC Travel Passport Program

by Gary Hawkins, July 15, 2018

If you're planning to travel for an extended period of time and you have children, as the parent, you're going to be looking after their ongoing education for at least the time you are away. We will find ourselves in this situation next year as we depart on what we hope will be a four-year travel adventure.

This weekend as we were considering things to do locally, we thought it would be fun to take our daughter, Xaria, to the San Diego National History Museum, located in Balboa Park.  Xaria had been learning about dinosaurs at preschool and was pretty excited about them - her favorite being T-Rex. We knew the museum had a number of dinosaurs on display.  Xaria had learned a good deal already but did not appreciate just how large they were - I wanted to dispel the idea one could have been kept as a pet!

I remembered I'd seen in a homeschooling Facebook group mention of a pass for free or discounted access to literally hundreds of science and technology facilities across the USA. The San Diego National History Museum website described the $79 Family Membership as, "Two membership cards for two adults, which includes children 17 and under in the same household. Includes four general admission guest passes and reciprocal benefits through the ASTC Travel Passport Program."  I had found the pass that was being referenced.

Yafei With Our San Diego Natural History Museum Membership Booklet

Mum with our Membership Booklet for the San Diego Natural History Museum

Xaria Sizing Up a Dinosaur at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Xaria Sizing Up a Dinosaur

Information on the ASTC Travel Passport Program can be found at http://www.astc.org/passport/ - includes a current list of participating organizations. ASTC stands for the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

As a family with membership to an organization participating in the ASTC Travel Passport Program, you're eligible for free general or discounted admission at hundreds of facilities across the USA, and a few overseas.  Just some of those participating include:

  • Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, CA;
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, CO;
  • Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ;
  • Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center, Reno NV.

What a great way of ensuring when we're on the road we can take Xaria to a learning center that is clearly going to benefit her homeschooling, in almost any state, often for free.

Xaria Learning All About Dinosaurs and Later Animals

Xaria Learning All About the Animals That Followed the Dinosaurs

Xaria and Dad About to enjoy a 3D movie at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Xaria and Dad About to Enjoy a 3D Movie about the Oceans

There are a few limitations to the ASTC program, so it's worth calling ahead to make sure what admission benefits you will get.  The most significant is you do not get free access to participating science centers & museums located within 90 miles of the facility where you are a member or your residential address.  In our case, that means we still have to pay for local participating facilities like the Fleet Science Center.  Of course, this limitation is not that relevant if you're traveling.

Gary Hawkins will discuss travel, more types of reciprocal pass, homeschooling and many other topics in his upcoming book A Life Redesigned.

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