Thinking about taking a family sabbatical?

Lake Nahuel HuapiWe had a great experience during our 15-week sabbatical in Argentina.

While I hope you can get some useful information from my posts, I’d like to recommend the web site Radical Family Sabbatical as a resource that is valuable no matter where you are thinking of going. Matt Scherr created the site after his family completed a 21-month sabbatical in Ecuador, and he is committed to helping other families figure out how to make a “wouldn’t it be great” conversation reality. The site includes case studies (aka actual family sabbatical stories), tools for planning and conceptualizing, and lots of encouragement.

Go for it!

2 thoughts on “Thinking about taking a family sabbatical?

  1. Bridget

    Hi there – love reading about your travels! My husband and I also want to take our two four year olds (twins) on a spanish-speaking sabbatical to augment immersion school at home. We are going for three months nov-jan. We are considering Argentina but I wonder if you would tell me what other places you considered and why. So much to plan!

    1. ellentveit Post author

      Hi Bridget — thanks for writing! I envy you being in the planning stage of a trip like this…it’s work, but there’s also so much to look forward to.

      Like you, we knew our travel dates. Our main considerations were: safety; cost; climate (not too hot or too cold, with a bonus if we could trade our winter for someone else’s summer); location (natural beauty and things to do/see, in a small to medium-size city where we could get around without a car); and language (we would have loved to be in Barcelona where we have family, but we didn’t want our son to go to preschool or camp and be confronted with Catalan). That’s an obvious list, of course, and in the end cost ended up being a lower priority (Argentina was not a “bargain”).

      My husband had spent time in Argentina before, and as he started talking with his South American contacts Bariloche emerged as a possibility. At one point another Argentine suggested a similar-sized city in a different part of the country where he could help us get set up with preschool or camp, but from what we could see online the city was in a flat part of the country, far from other places we would want to visit, and without a lot of cultural amenities. We decided that if we were going to travel all the way to Argentina, we wanted to be in a place that felt special (we are from Minnesota and know all about a flat landscape!).

      We are hoping to do another, longer sabbatical at some point. Some ideas we are kicking around in this very early stage are Malaga, Spain, and Cartagena, Colombia. We are not considering Venezuela or Honduras (safety reasons), Costa Rica (too much English?), or other parts of Central America (too hot?). I lean toward South America and my husband leans toward Europe for reasons that are more emotional than rational.

      From what I’ve read, a lot of Americans planning this kind of experience choose Mexico or Ecuador, in part because American dollars can go farther in these places that also offer strong history and culture and natural beauty. Right or wrong, I thought that if we chose the most economical route we’d end up in a place where we’d be confronted with heartbreaking levels of poverty, and I didn’t think I was ready for that.

      My advice is to keep talking to people and, once you’ve narrowed down the possibilities, look for as much information as you can while accepting that some things will remain unknown until you get to your destination. If your experience is like ours, at some point you’ll find a place that just sounds right.

      Good luck! If you think of it, let me know when you’ve decided on your destination. : )


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