Family Travel – A Life-Changing Event

“You’re crazy,” one of my students told me today.  “I call you my crazy teacher.”

“Why?”  I asked.

“I can’t believe you’re going to ride that far.  That’s just crazy.  That’s something that people talk about doing – but they never actually do it.”

I guess it is true that a lot of people talk about taking an extended journey like ours, but not all that many actually walk the talk.  I really wish more people would do it – I wish more people would head out to see the world with children in tow.  There’s just so much to learn out there.

I think about my childhood – and all I learned in school.  Yes, I saw pictures of tribal people from all over the world.  Yes, I watched National Geographic movies about cultures around the world.  Yes, I did tons of research and wrote reports.  I knew about the world – or so I thought.

I think I’m one of the lucky ones – my parents took me to Mexico when I was sixteen.  That journey changed my life – quite literally.  I remember walking through the Mexican streets in wide-eyed wonder – it was so… different.  It had never dawned on me that anyone lived differently that I did in Boise, Idaho.

I watched a flame thrower as he took a big swig of kerosene, then blew it out while lighting it on fire.  I also watched as he gagged as he took that swig.  “Oh my lord,” I remember thinking.  “This man does this day after day after day.  He stands on a street corner, fills his mouth with kerosene, and spits it out.  And he gags.  Again and again and again.”

I’m quite certain that flame thrower had no idea what kind of impact he had on my life.  I’m sure he spent many years gagging on kerosene before dying an early death.

And me?  I returned home to my safe and secure little house in Idaho – where everyone lived the same as me.  As sixteen-year-olds tend to do, I turned on the TV as soon as we entered our house and plopped myself down to watch about all that stuff that goes on the world.  A few minutes later a Peace Corps commercial came on, and I made a decision then and there that I would enter the Peace Corps as soon as I as able.  And I did – eight years later.

The rest, as they say, is history.  I spent two years in Honduras in the Peace Corps, then came back to the US to teach on the Navajo reservation for a while.  After spending a year biking the Indian subcontinent, I moved to Albuquerque for two years – and hated it.  I convinced John to move overseas with me and we spent time in Egypt, Ethiopia, Taiwan, and Malaysia before moving back to the US twelve years later.

I think about all the years I’ve spent wandering the globe and marvel at the fact that it all started with a family journey to Mexico.  I talked with Mom a few years ago, and told her about how that trip to Mexico changed me – she had no idea.  When my parents made the decision to take us to Mexico, I’m sure they never considered it would be such a life-changing event.

I guess that’s why I want other families to travel – I want all kids to have the magnificant experiences I’ve had.  And it all starts with a family vacation.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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14 Responses to Family Travel – A Life-Changing Event

  1. Madzia May 6, 2008 at 6:53 pm #

    Your travels sound so colorful and your upcoming trip is just fantastic! Love your guys site and what you have done with it (great minds must think alike :):) We’ve added you to our Resources and Favourites page. We’re very new at this and are eagerly awaiting our adventures. Leaving on June 8th as well .. must be an auspicious date! Here’s to happy travels..

  2. nancy May 6, 2008 at 7:23 pm #

    June 8 will be an AWESOME day, eh?? I know you will have a blast – it’s just the waiting and preparations that are the pits!

    Hope you have a wonderful journey!

  3. Jennifer (Et Tu?) May 7, 2008 at 5:49 am #

    I just found your blog via your comment over at Mamablogga. I just have to say: wow!! What an inspiring endeavor. I look forward to following your journey!

  4. nancy May 7, 2008 at 6:05 am #

    Thanks for writing Jennifer! I hope you enjoy following along!!

  5. Eric Tepner May 7, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    You are such a great writer! I can’t wait to read the book.(?) You’re right, the majority of people put off those dreams until “retirement.” I love working for the schools – first because I love the kids – but second because I can get my own kids out of suburbia and into the “real” world during the off months. I guess I could pick up another job during those months off, but for what? I’d rather invest that time with my kids, and what better way than travel. We will thinking of you guys as we head south on two wheels as well. We loved keeping up with your last journey, and can’t wait for this one to start! It’s like picking up a good book as it’s being written. By the way, will you jounal on Crazyguyonabike as well, or only this BLOG?


  6. nancy May 7, 2008 at 11:38 am #

    Thanks so much for the kind words Eric!! I do enjoy writing, and many times don’t even know where my writing will take me. Last night I sat down to write about the comment my student made and never even considered the possibility that it would lead to talking about how my own travels as a child affected my life! But it’s fun to see where it all goes.

    I thought about putting our journal on CGoaB, because it is really, really easy to use. However, I decided I wanted it all together – the blogging about the preparations and the journal itself. The other problem with CGoaB is that the list starts to get unwieldy after a couple hundred posts – and we’ll end up with well over a thousand!!

    If I could change CGoaB in one way, it would be to make sections collapsible so you don’t have such an enormously long list to scroll through to get to the bottom. I suppose that’s a minor issue for most people, but it gets to be significant when you’ve got lots and lots of posts.

    I’ve always felt exactly like you – I have no desire to pick up another job in the summer. I treasure my summers and want to spend every single minute with my boys. I know I “should” send them to summer camp and all that, but I am selfish and want them to myself!!

  7. Heatheraynne May 7, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    Other than one trip to Toronto, I have never been outside of the US. I was talking with a friend last week about wanting my daughter to see more of the world than I did, and your post reinforces that.

    I can’t wait for your trip to begin, it will be wonderful to hear about all the things you see!

  8. nancy May 7, 2008 at 1:19 pm #

    The best thing about taking kids traveling (from my perspective anyway) is that we never know how the kids will react or what they will learn from it. When I went to Mexico, my younger sister and brother both went with us – and all three of us came away with totally different things. There really is no way of predicting what our kids will learn from their experiences, but I KNOW they will be changed in some way!!

  9. Amanda May 7, 2008 at 5:18 pm #

    Great post, Nancy, and a really good point. I was lucky enough to have parents who decided to take 6 months out of “normal life” to take my sister and I campervanning around Europe when I was 9 – I’m sure this trip’s the main reason why I’ve travelled so much and lived in other countries since. Although you’re right, everyone gets something different out of it, because my sister was on that same trip and doesn’t really have any kind of travel bug.

  10. nancy May 7, 2008 at 6:38 pm #

    Wow Amanda!! Six months?!?! I’m jealous! I thought I was lucky to get to go to Mexico for three weeks!

  11. soultravelers3 May 9, 2008 at 4:39 am #

    You are so right! There really is nothing so grand as family travel and it enriches a family forever and impacts children in profound ways.

    I agree too that more people should do it and it is cheaper and easier than most people realize. We have been traveling the world for almost 2 years for MUCH cheaper than we could live at home.

    Slow travel allows one to immerse deeply in a culture and is so much cheaper since flights are the most expensive part of travel. Laptops and internet make it easier today than ever before and I think it might becoming a bit of a trend.

    The experience has been spectacular for our child’s education and was our main motivation in going.

    We always traveled, adventured and camped as family when I was growing up and I am forever grateful for how that has positively impacted my life.

    Can’t wait to follow your adventures on the road!!

  12. Kelly @ Pass the Torch May 9, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    I’ve thought so much lately about how we are doers more than we are thinkers. You clearly are as well. I’m envious of your impending trip and special time with your family. I’ll be watching your journey.

    And your student who calls you the “crazy teacher?” You’re the one he’ll never forget…

  13. nancy May 9, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    I like that – doers rather than thinkers! I suppose that fits the bill.

  14. Clark Vandeventer March 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    The true value of travel is not in strenuous sightseeing, but in opening one’s heart to feeling.
    -Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey

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