Book Review–The Family Sabbatical Handbook

I love reading travel “how-to” books. The inspirational ones get me so excited to get up and get going. Every time my husband sees me reading one, he knows it’s just a brief matter of time before we’ll be on the road again.

I just finished reading, The Family Sabbatical–The Budget Guide to Living Abroad with Your Family by Elisa Bernick. The book is written for families planning to live for six months or more overseas but it has plenty of useful information for singles and couples who plan to live overseas, and good tips for those who are planning a long-haul trip in several countries. It is specifically written for people who are seeking a new lifestyle and culture, rather than an employee being transferred to a new country by his or her employer. This book is for people looking for a great family adventure!

Bernick moved from suburban Minnesota to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with her husband and her two kids, ages 7 and 2 for 18 months. Before their sabbatical, they had never been to that area of Mexico and none of them spoke Spanish! She intermixes her own personal ups & downs with practical tips and resources to help you plan your own long-term sabbatical or travel experience. I could really identify with many of her pitfalls and triumphs from my own experience traveling with my husband around the world for five months.

Chapters & Topics

1. Why Live Abroad with Your Kids? —  All the reasons why your family will love a sabbatical.
2. Where to Go and For How Long? — Tips to choosing the right place for you. Her family originally wanted to go to Europe but she outlines their reasoning for changing their location based on budget, goals and other practical matters.
3. Your Gonna Do What? — How to tell your friends and family about your decision to take a sabbatical.
4. Finding a Home Away from Home — How to find a long-term abode.
5. Get Ready, Get Set — Packing and preparation.
6. The Money Thing — How to finance your adventure. I have some similar tips in my post on saving for travel.
7 & 8. School Daze — All about how to get your kids into the right school for their needs.
9. Is Anyone Out There — Communicating with people back home. (Some of this info. is outdated)
10 & 11. We’re Here! — Arriving and what to do your first month to get situated in your new location.
12. I Love My Kids But They’re Driving Me Crazy — How to cope with a lot more time with your kids.
13. Getting Sick — About doctors and insurance concerns.
14 & 15. Making Friends & Bridging the Great Divide — How to make friends in a different culture with a different language.
16. Marooned in Paradise — How to deal with homesickness. This is one chapter I wish I would have read before our trip! It’s hard to believe you will be homesick in such an exciting place or places, but it really happens!
17. Welcoming Visitors — Dealing with out-of-town guests who visit.
18. Epiphanies, Such as They Are — Things they wish they had done differently.
19. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly — Dealing with depression in your new home. Just like homesickness, this really happens!
20. Going Back — How to “re-enter” your life back home.

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3 thoughts

  1. Sold and sold! Thanks for the overview. My husband and I often talk about this but perhaps some day we will make our dream come true!

  2. Dream it, believe it and do it! I hope you guys are able to do your dream trip!

  3. I lived abroad age 14-16 and it was life changing!! Literally. I hope to be able to do this for a year or two with my family. My husband is in the military so…maybe! Thanks for sharing!

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