The Eat Pray Love effect: Prom vs. Machu Picchu
Part 5 of a Monitor cover story about how families hit by the Eat Pray Love effect leave it all behind. But it’s not all paradise, such as when the prom looms larger than Machu Picchu.
Pulling up stakes and leaving it all behind may be the dream of everyone from the first-grader chafing at the bounds of school and parents with work stress, but extended travel is not all Eat, Pray, Love, as the gauzy movie may have suggested. Traveling together 24 hours a day, seven days a week can present challenges for even the closest of families.Skip to next paragraph
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Tara Russell, a San Francisco-based certified life and career coach specializing in long-term travel, tells her clients that extended travel is not the solution to family dysfunction: “Whatever is dogging you here will dog you 10 times more on the road.”
IN PICTURES: Way beyond vacation: the 'Eat, Pray, Love' effect
Rainer Jenss, who left an executive position at National Geographic to travel through 28 countries for a year in 2008 with his family, says spending so much time with his wife magnified some of their issues. “We have very different parenting styles, but it never affected us that much. When we were traveling, though, it was harder to work out.” But, he adds, “You develop patience on a much deeper level.”
Craig James, corporate communications consultant who took his family on the road for a year in 2008, says his kids had a tough time when their friends from home would communicate with them by e-mail or on Facebook. “They could see what their classmates were doing and it hurt. My daughter was supposed to be starting high school and she was very connected to her friends.”
When she missed her first homecoming dance, having boyfriends, or a new “Twilight” movie, he explains, “she would be depressed.... Never mind we’d been to Machu Picchu that day, when there was a party she had missed.”
In April, during a week when the Podlesny family was traveling in their mobile home through Texas, and the wind was blowing at 70 miles per hour, they got on each other’s nerves, says Danielle. In fact they had to reschedule their interview for this story to change a blown tire, the third one that week. The windy conditions made it impossible for the family to get out and explore. “It was frustrating, and we were feeling cooped up,” she says.
For Dee Andrews, whose family left Boulder, Colo. to travel for a year, the toughest time came about six weeks into the trip, when they were setting up to live for a time in Spain. “It became stressful and tedious. You’re trying to deal with the phone company, get Internet service, buy groceries, only you’re doing it in a foreign language and culture. I was living the same life only in a different place,” she says.