Travel | Family fun | Work/Life Balance

The Family Gap Year

What happens when you drop it all and move abroad?

How’d they do it?

The Eastland-Fruit family

Chris Eastland, Dianne Fruit, Ridley and Rory | Home: Kenmore, Wash.

Where did they go? Costa Rica (two and a half months) and shorter stints in various places in South America and Europe. The whole family volunteered at a sea turtle conservation camp, and Fruit and Eastland also volunteered at the school Ridley and Rory attended in Costa Rica.

For how long? Six months total

How old were the kids? Ridley, 13; Rory, 10

How did they manage school? Two months at a dual-language school in Costa Rica; other than that, learning on the go

How did they manage work/money? Fruit had a paid sabbatical from her job as a community college instructor; Eastland took unpaid leave from his job as an engineer. Both were able to return to their jobs.

Most surprising aspect? Fruit: “When we returned, I found it hard to adequately summarize the trip when others asked about it. We had experienced so much! Even though I’m well versed in reentry shock, I was bewildered about how to return to our ‘normal’ lives and at the same time incorporate how I had changed and grown.”

Most lasting effect: Languages; willingness to try new things; new awareness of need versus want; new friends

Any advice?
Rory: “Don’t take everything so seriously.”
Ridley: “Pack light. Be willing to go with the flow when necessary. Record everything (write stuff down, take videos and audio recordings to capture how things were at the time).”

>>Next: How'd they do it? The Richards-Steel family

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