Our airplane takes off from MSP at 3 p.m., has a two-hour layover in L.A., and arrives in Maui at 10:30 p.m. There is a four-hour time difference, and Maui is 3,900 miles from MSP. This begs two  questions: On average, how fast is the airplane flying. And: Is it okay to take your children out of school if you force them to work problems such as this while inflight.

No school wants you to take your child out of the classroom. And many parents, like me, are squeamish about it. Sure, my daughter will be seeing humpbacks, and my husband and I will likely encourage her to research the mammal before we take our whale-watching trip. (Did you know the scientific name is Megaptera novaeangliae? That they migrate about 16,000 miles annually? And that the male's song last about 20 minutes?)  We'll hike in a rain forest and find gorgeous and lush plants she would otherwise see only in a book. Aside from those informal lessons in natural history, just think of the physics education she'll get when she takes surfing lessons (I'm hoping it's the physics of waves she'll be focusing on and not the fundamentals of first aid).

We tried, we really did, to travel over the holiday break. Ouch, those prices were killer. Summer was out of the question, since we will be visiting snowbird grandparents. We pulled the trigger--and only later realized that it will mean our daughter will be enduring major testing with the fuzz of jetlag.

In the end, it isn't so much the missed classroom hours that I worry about. It's sending the message that school attendance isn't important. For that reason alone, we vow to make this a rare occurence. And to discuss why this is such a special event with our girl.

Other parents I know have far fewer qualms, seeing travel as a great educational opportunity. What are your thoughts?  Do you have any tips for how to handle the transition back in? Do you think students should do homework in paradise? I'd love to hear your perspective.