What A 6 Month International Travel Sabbatical Taught Me About Health And Happiness

Swimming in volcanic thermal springs in Nicaragua

Swimming in volcanic thermal springs in Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Hello! I’m back.

This year, our family took a 6 month travel sabbatical to explore the world, volunteer in local communities and reconnect with each other. I took a bit of a break from my business too and instead, homeschooled my children, learnt all about Latin American cuisine, backpacked through the rainforest, swam in thermal springs in Nicaragua, volunteered at an organic farm, danced salsa in Cuba under the stars, biked around a Danish island, practiced sunrise yoga by lush mountains, rambled through the English countryside, kayaked in a volcanic crater lake and swam in the Pacific Ocean. We started our trip in a small town in Costa Rica, explored the country for a couple of months and then traveled on to Nicaragua, Honduras, Cuba, Mexico, Denmark and England.

It truly was an incredible trip and we had the luxury of time for our children and for ourselves and to see the world. We loved every minute and are so grateful for the opportunity.

Getting ready to board down a volcano after a stunning hike!

Getting ready to board down a volcano after a stunning hike!

When we were traveling through Central America, I was struck by the simplicity of peoples’ lives as well as their health and happiness. I didn’t see any ads for reducing stress or anxiety. Pills for weight loss were nowhere to be found. Nobody was trying to keep up with the latest cars or electronic devices. Instead, I witnessed friends and families playing and swimming at the beach together. Huge families sharing a picnic by a waterfall, listening to music and sharing funny stories. Kids surfing or playing soccer on the sand in the afternoons. I didn’t see anyone stress over their jobs. I didn’t see anyone working 16 hours a day to try and climb the corporate ladder. Why would you stress about that when when you get to walk along the Pacific Ocean into work every day and see your family every afternoon?

Volunteering at an organic farm in Costa Rica

Volunteering at an organic farm in Costa Rica

I’m very aware of the fact that many people in these countries live in extreme poverty. We saw a lot of hardship in Nicaragua and Cuba (where the average monthly wage is just $20 USD) and that was very difficult. But many people whom we spoke with (we speak good Spanish) told us they were happy with their lives: they had the ocean or mountains or jungle right on their doorstep. Life was simple. They had delicious avocado and mangos growing right in their back yard. They ate traditional foods and didn’t think about low-fat anything. Their communities were right around them. Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries on the planet. How does the US or the UK compare? They say it takes a village to raise your family. In the Western developed world, we live so far away from our families and spend our days in isolation from the people we love, struggling to raise kids in a competitive environment and trying to connect through the internet instead of personal connections. I think we can learn so much from other cultures. It took a big trip like this for me to become more humble and grateful for my life too.

Eating delicious street food in Leon, Nicaragua

Eating delicious street food in Leon, Nicaragua

How did the 6 month sabbatical change us? We are closer as a family. My children are speaking a bit of Spanish now. They are more confident at making friends and interacting with new people. They are more adventurous eaters (they even ate live termites in Costa Rica!). My husband and I have spent more quality time together this year than we have done in the past 15 years together. Our adventures as a family have strengthened our relationships with each other. We had so much fun and have built a lifetime of memories this year. We can’t wait to plan our next trip.

We return from our family sabbatical with renewed energy and focus. Although our lives are busy now with school and work, we enjoy the simple things in life whether it’s a run around the playground or a delicious meal with friends. We are less stressed about money and status and more focused on each other.

Personally, I love my field of nutrition and wellness and am passionate about helping people improve their diet and health. And now, I’m all about helping women get healthy inside and out and build a life they dream about.

And if YOU have a dream, I recommend you follow it – you’ll never know where in the world it will take you.

Exploring the English coast with family

Exploring the English coast with family

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