Though you’ll always hear us promoting longer sabbaticals, we will ultimately urge you to do whatever length you think you can manage. We met the Wilsons chewing through Ecuador like Kobayashi through hot dogs. They saw most of the country, did a number of volunteer projects, and probably had more experiences to write home about than others doing twice the time. But even though Kendra wishes they had taken a longer sabbatical (who doesn’t?), their intensity was driven more by a passion for the experience than by a sense of time ticking away. And their six months just left them wanting more.
Where is home?
St. Albert (greater Edmonton), Canada
Where did you go?
How long was your sabbatical?
What were you thinking (why did you do it)?
One day we woke up and realized that our four children were growing up fast, and that life was passing us by in a blur. We had been privileged enough to travel in our lives and we wanted our children to experience another culture and way of life. We basically were bringing up our children in a very affluent community, with them having no idea of how lucky they were. So we headed to Ecuador to spend some quality family time with our children while they were still young, and teach them about the bigger world out there.
What has been your greatest lesson or experience?
A new appreciation and tolerance for different cultures, people, and places in the world. Overall the experience made our children believe that they could try new things and go new places and it would be all right!
Overall the experience was a positive one for the entire family. References to and memories of Ecuador are often vocalized by our kids as we go about our busy lives, which makes us believe that it was all worth it. With the cultures being so was vastly different, we realized after coming home, that even though we missed things about Canada, we now have many things to miss about Ecuador. Unique, different and special to appreciate in their own ways.
Each of our children, as their ages varied, seemed to get a little something different out of the experience. Our 14-year-old (12 1/2 at the time) was upset and opposed to the idea of leaving home for six months as he entered junior high, but today he relates stories of Ecuador as a great life experience and a place where he learned that he loved to travel, and he is now more open to new things. Our daughter has an increased sense of compassion for giving and volunteering as a result of our Ecuador adventure. Our 10-year-old son loves to travel and meet people and is very inclusive of all people, and our 8-year-old son gets excited for any small trips that we take, and in fact talks about Ecuador more than anyone.
Ecuador definitely opened our children’s eyes to the bigger world around them, and it certainly was a “slower pace” that we can only reflect on now as we remember the days we woke up with NO agenda! If we had to do anything different, we may have gone for a full year and immersed our kids more in the language by putting them in the local schools. Otherwise, our Ecuador adventure was all we hoped for and more, and we are eager to plan the next family trip soon!
Have you done extended travel with your family? Help inspire other families to follow in your footsteps. Tell us your story.