The biking family: John, Daryl, Davy and Nancy Vogel
The Vogel family spent multiple years of their lives on bikes. During their largest journey, they traveled 17,300 miles along the Pan American Highway. Their journey took them from Alaska to Argentina, through 15 countries. The Vogel’s twin sons were 10 years old at the time. Mother, Nancy Sathre-Vogel talked to us about traveling by two wheels, with two kids.
MomTrusted: What made you decided to start your biking journey?
Nancy: Although we are more known for cycling from Alaska to Argentina, that journey actually started a couple years earlier when we made the decision to take a one-year career break and cycle around the USA and Mexico. Our twin sons were 8 at the time, and my husband and I decided we wanted more time with them. We had also lived overseas for most of our sons’ lives and wanted to show them their own country – and there’s no better way to do that than on a bicycle.
As we cycled the Pacific coast on that one-year trip, we met some other cyclists who were on their way to Argentina. “Let’s go!” we thought. But reality kicked in and we realized we were not adequately prepared for such a journey. We continued with our loop around the USA and set our sights on a separate journey at another time.
Our “one-year career break” kinda, sorta got extended…
MomTrusted: I know you’ve done a lot of family bike trips. When was the first and where did it take place?
Nancy: We haven’t taken all that many family bike trips, but each one was, shall we say, rather long? Although my husband and I bike toured extensively before our children were born, their first bike tour came when they were 7. That summer we took a 4-day trip into the mountains around Idaho, and then a few weeks later a 2-day trip to the Snake River canyon. That was it until we set off for our one-year trip around the USA, which led to our 3-year trip from Alaska to Argentina.
MomTrusted: I know you and your husband are both teachers. How did you budget for your trips?
Nancy: For our first big trip, we financed it completely with savings.
Once we decided to cycle the length of the Americas, we had to get creative. We rented out our home (it was paid for, so rent was income), wrote articles for magazines, sold ads on our website, and anything else we could do to bring in a few bucks. Anything not paid for with those, came out of savings.
MomTrusted: What was the biggest challenge of bringing kids along on your journeys?
Nancy: I think the hardest part was dealing with the critics. Although my husband and I felt that our travels were the best childhood we could provide for our children, there were those who felt we were using and abusing our children. Because of their criticism, I spent countless hours evaluating and reevaluating my motives to see exactly why I was doing what I was doing. I came to the conclusion that biking around the world might not be perfect for all kids, for our children it was the best thing going.
Our society raises us in such a way that we should grow up to want certain things. The expectations of society are that we will want the big house in the suburbs, three cars in the driveway, soccer and gymnastics for the kids, and all that. When we made the decision that the expected life wasn’t the life we wanted, there were people who felt very strongly that we weren’t being fair to our children. That’s a hard thing to deal with.
MomTrusted: What’s the best part of having your kids join you on your travels?
Nancy: We got to see the world through their eyes. Children have this ability to see things that we adults miss, and they brought us into their world. We were also received differently by the people we met because of our children – the kids opened doors we never would have known existed!
MomTrusted: What are you doing now? Do you have any other big adventures planned?
Nancy: For now, we are living in Boise, Idaho. John and I have the parenting philosophy that we want to give our children as many varied experiences as possible. They lived the expat life overseas when they were small. They spent four years living full time on bicycles. Now we want to give them the opportunity to put down roots and be part of a greater community.
Our sons are still homeschooled, but are taking advanced math and science through the local schools. They are also in Boy Scouts and on a robotics team. One of them has taken up running and is part of the local cross country and track teams; the other is on the swim team.
We are loving our lives here in Idaho!