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The Eat, Pray, Love effect: Why families leave it all behind

Part 3 of a Monitor cover story about how families hit by the Eat Pray Love effect leave it all behind – selling the house, taking the kids out of school and embarking on extended global travel.

By Correspondent / May 26, 2011

The Andrews family, of Boulder, Colo. decided to leave it all behind and travel – Eat, Pray, Love style – in 2008. They moved to Spain before extensively traveling, and put their daughters in a local school so they could become fluent in Spanish. Here Emma (l.) and Grace Andrews wear the uniforms of their Spanish school.

Courtesy of the Andrews Family

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Dee Andrews wanted to “shake things up a bit” in her suburban life. A stay-at-home mom in Boulder, Colo., she may not have seemed like the type who would care to take the risks that extended-travel – Eat, Pray, Love family style – and leave it all behind.

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But her sentiments are not unlike those of a growing number of families who are pulling up stakes – not to mention, pulling the kids out of school – to travel the world as a family. A variety of reasons are behind the decision to take off - work stress, desire to be closer as a family, curiosity, desire to learn a new language.

Dee and her husband. Scott, were bored living a comfortable, middle-class life, she says. So they decided to decamp for Europe in 2008. Dee was home with their two daughters, Grace and Emma, who were 5 and 8 at the time. Scott was chief executive officer of a high-tech, venture-backed company, working long hours.

“It was a stressful time in my husband’s life, and there was the monotony of the job and of our life in Boulder. We just needed a change from the routines into which our lives had fallen,” says Dee, who wanted to let go of PTA meetings, soccer practices, and volunteering at school, and “shake things up a bit.”

Before they had kids, the Andrewses had moved frequently and changed jobs every few years. In fact, Dee says, they once even discussed moving down the street “just to change something.” Then, after a particularly stressful week for Scott, the family went camping. “We were in the mountains, sitting there together, and the kids were asleep. And Scott said, ‘Let’s move abroad. Let’s just make this happen.’ And I remember grinning from ear to ear thinking, ‘Finally, we’re going to do this,’ ” she says.

They decided on Spain so their daughters could become fluent in Spanish, a language the couple felt would be useful in the US. After school ended in 2008, they sold their house and cars; they put some things in storage and gave some away.

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