Having traveled through 15 countries — on a bike — with her kids, Nancy Sathre-Vogel is Our Type of Traveler. The founder of Family on Bikes, Nancy quit her day job of teaching, for 21years, to hit the road with her husband and twin sons. What followed was an incredible journey, captured in one of Nancy’s 4 books about bike touring, Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World.
Having logged 27,000 miles throughout the Americas, including Alaska and Argentina, Nancy knows all about family travel. Recently, Traveling Type caught up with Nancy, who now she lives in Idaho, where she pursues her passions of writing and beadwork. Here’s what Nancy had to say about traveling with kids — including her top picks for destinations every parent should take their kids, and how to live out your life’s passions. Plus, she lets us in on the time she found a man in her bed … naked … at 3 a.m. … and it wasn’t her husband. Hmm … let’s get going!
Traveling Type: How did you get started travel blogging?
Nancy Sathre-Vogel: It was an accident. I actually started an online journal — a place to document our travels for ourselves and where my mother could follow along. I had no idea that people actually read blogs — or that there was such a word as “blog,” for that matter. I was stunned when we started getting messages from random strangers telling me we had inspired them to get out and live a more adventurous life.
What’s your blog about?
My blog started as documentation for our bicycle adventures. Now that we are back home, I’ve morphed it into a site to encourage and inspire others to grab life by the horns and steer it in a direction that is more fulfilling and satisfying.
How many countries, cities, and continents have you and your family traveled to?
As a family, we have ridden our bicycles through 15 countries. Before we had kids, my husband and I cycled probably another 15 or so. And then there are dozens of countries that we’ve traveled in, but not cycled.
What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
Ethiopia is amazing for the sheer beauty of both people and scenery. And Honduras for my basic personal growth.
Has it ever been a challenge on agreeing on a place to go?
It’s never been an issue. If there is one place that any one of us really feels strongly about, we all respect that. For example, one of my sons said he wanted to go to Yellowstone National Park, so we routed ourselves through Montana and Wyoming rather than along the coast in order to go there. Another desire was to see Chichen Itza, so we planned our route through the Yucatan.
What are the benefits of traveling with young kids — isn’t that tough?
Not at all! Kids are great travelers — even easier than most adults. Kids are so flexible and enthusiastic; they’re willing to do just about anything. And, of course, they have an energy level that allows them to go and go and not get tired.
What’s your family’s favorite place to get away from it all?
Our cottage on the Connecticut shore.
What are the most overrated places to take your kids on vacation?
Pretty much any place that advertises itself as “kid-friendly.” What we’ve found is that the best places are those that are not listed in guidebooks, they are not publicized.
What places should every parent should take their kids?
The 4 destinations I think every child should experience are: 1.) Northern British Columbia — it’s like taking a safari through an African savanna with all the wildlife on the side of the road; 2.) Ica, Peru — seeing conehead skulls in the regional museum, then on to mysteriously carved stones found in the desert, and culminating in a flight over the Nazca Lines, this area will get you questioning some very basic “truths” about our world as well … oh yeah, and the sandboarding in the massive sand dunes is a blast as well; 3.) Chinese New Year — seeing these celebrations should be a must for every child! We lived in Taiwan, so got to be a part of the celebration there; 4.) Ecuadorian New Year — Ecuadorians know how to do New Year right!
What’s your must-have item when traveling — especially with kids?
A Kindle. One for each person.
Tell us your funniest travel story/experience.
Probably the time in Colombia when I found a naked man in my bed! It’s a long story.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten while traveling, and where?
If you asked my kids, one of them would say lomo saltado from Peru and Bolivia. The other would say plain ol’ beans and tortillas in Mexico. For me? Pretty much any and all Ethiopian food. Except the raw beef — couldn’t bring myself to do that one.
How do your family healthy while on the road?
I think the trick to staying healthy is being active in the outdoors. There is something about Mother Nature to take care of us. That, and we try to eat semi-healthy food, but we don’t stress over it.
What’s the best hotel you’ve stayed at as a family?
In general, we prefer the small locally owned Ma and Pa places over large chains.
Boise, ID. It’s where I grew up, and now – after many years of living all around the world – where we’re living again.
What would you recommend to travelers visiting your hometown?
Do what the locals do. In the summer, take an afternoon to tube down the Boise River. In the winter head up to the ski resort at Bogus Basin. Listen to music at Alive After 5, walk around the farmers’ market on Saturday morning. There is always plenty going on.
You say everyone should pursue their passion — what would you say to someone facing challenges?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I know, I know … that’s trite and cliché and all kinds of boring, but it’s also true. You will find a way to do what’s highest on your priority list. The key is to honestly reevaluate your priorities. What do you value more than anything else? Make a list of your top 5 priorities, then take a good solid look at your life. Are you living in a way that is consistent with those priorities? If not, why?
What’s No. 1 on your bucket list?
I’d like to explore Europe someday. We’ve traveled all over the world, but still have managed to explore much of Europe. Need to change that!
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