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The Eat Pray Love effect: Prom vs. Machu Picchu

Part 5 of a Monitor cover story about how families hit by the Eat Pray Love effect leave it all behind. But it’s not all paradise, such as when the prom looms larger than Machu Picchu.

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Doug Brown helps identify a fish that his son, Henry Wyatt caught. The family left it all behind – selling their house near San Diego to buy a home in Baja California, Mexico to use as a base for a year at sea. Henry Wyatt told his mom that their Eat Pray Love experience has been the best of his life. Some families who have done the same temper their praise of the experience, noting that it’s not all paradise – such as when a teen's prom looms larger than Machu Picchu.

Courtesy of the Brown Family

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Pulling up stakes and leaving it all behind may be the dream of everyone from the first-grader chafing at the bounds of school and parents with work stress, but extended travel is not all Eat, Pray, Love, as the gauzy movie may have suggested. Traveling together 24 hours a day, seven days a week can present challenges for even the closest of families.

Tara Russell, a San Francisco-based certified life and career coach specializing in long-term travel, tells her clients that extended travel is not the solution to family dysfunction: “Whatever is dogging you here will dog you 10 times more on the road.”

For example: A missed prom might trump Machu Picchu in one family member’s mind, or a flat tire in a windstorm might spark a family spat.

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