“When are we going to travel again, Mom?”

“When are we going to travel again, Mom?” Davy asked as we drove home from Boy Scouts last night. “I really miss it.”

“You give us the word,” I replied, “and we’ll take off.”


Keeping warm around a campfire in the evenings was one of the simple joys of our time on the road.

It’s hard finding a balance when there are many good options. How does one go about figuring out whether doing Thing A or Thing B is better? What is better anyway?

We’ve been struggling with that issue lately. Reentry has been… conflicting. It’s now been nearly two years since we finished our journey and came back to Idaho. Two years off our bikes and in a more settled life.

And it’s been a wonderful two years. The boys love their advanced math and science classes. They’ve learned tons by being part of a FIRST Robotics team and a Boy Scouts club. Davy ran with cross country and Daryl is on the swim team. It’s been wonderful for them to put down roots and be part of a greater community.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed waking up every morning knowing I will have water. Running water. Even HOT running water. I love having a toilet to sit on and a real stove to cook on. The decadence of a washing machine in my own house still hasn’t worn off.

John has channeled his unending supply of energy into rebuilding our house, and he’s now planning how he’ll fix up the cottage we inherited last summer. He’s made a documentary film of our journey and chopped wood to heat our house.

All four of us have fallen head over heels in love with two adorable puppies.

It’s been a wonderful time here in Boise.

But sometimes, we long for a life on the road.

utah mesa

We enjoyed hanging out in the countryside, sitting around chatting.

There are times when I dream longingly for the simplicity we had for all those years. The time together as a family. Working together towards a common goal.

I miss being surrounded by Mother Nature’s handiwork. I miss the wind on my face and being one with nature. I miss being just another part of the food chain.

I miss the quiet solitude of those long, lonely nights spent curled up in our tents. Yes, even the LONG nights in the middle of winter when we were snuggled up like cocoons for fourteen long hours. I miss listening to the coyotes howl off in the distance.

And so we face a choice.

I’ve always said that whenever you make a choice TO DO something, you make a parallel choice NOT TO DO something else. It’s all about making that choice knowingly and deliberately. It’s about knowing both what you are choosing for and what you’re choosing against.

And we know both of the options. We are fully aware of what’s involved with both of them. They are both great options. There are wonderful parts to both. There are downsides to both.

And so I do the easiest thing I can – I leave the decision to my sons.

FIRST robotics

Davy and Daryl are really enjoying learning how to design and build robots. FIRST Robotics has been an incredible opportunity for them.

“Whenever you decide you want to leave Boise and head out traveling again,” I told them, “just let us know and we’ll do it. But remember to consider it all. It will mean leaving your classes and robotics behind. If you want to do that, then we’re game.”

Is that fair? I don’t know. Am I being a mean mother asking my 15-year-old sons to make lifestyle choices for our family? Maybe I am. Maybe I’m just empowering them to be mature in their thinking and to consider all options. I like to think that’s what I’m doing.

So far, they have decided to stay in Boise, but I know that might change. The day might come when they decide their needs would be better met by a life on the road. When that day comes, we’ll pack up and head out.

It’s a tough line to walk, having too many options. A tough line, indeed.


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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12 Responses to “When are we going to travel again, Mom?”

  1. Talon February 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Isn’t it interesting how having too many options can be paralyzing? Personally, I think it’s fantastic that you are leaving it up to them. Not only is that real freedom, but you’re showing that their opinion matters, that you’ll support them no matter what, and teaching them to really consider what they value in life. That by itself is HUGE.

    I occasionally wonder when we’ll hit that point of needing to settle a bit. Right now we start to get itchy after a few weeks in a place, especially if we’re housesitting. Every couple of months or so, I always do a quick check-in with my son. “Do you want to stop traveling and settle down somewhere? Do you want to return to the States?” I’m prepared to go with whatever he decides. Not that I’m putting the responsibility on him, but we’re a team. Too often parents treat children like they’re property. He’s almost 12, but he has thoughts, opinions, feelings, and it’s his life, too. I don’t feel right dictating to him what his life will be like until he’s legally able to say no and do his own thing.

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel February 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

      @Talon, I love options, but sometimes I wish somebody else would just tell me what to do!

      I think it’s important that we work together with our children as a team. We wouldn’t have made it to Ushuaia if we didn’t – that much I know!

  2. Maria February 15, 2013 at 2:46 am #

    I vote for empowering. Knowing that your parents have your back and trust you to make qualified decisions is an amazing rush at that age.

    My parents took us to New Zealand for a year in 1990 (I’m from Denmark). I fell in love with the country and KNEW I wanted to go back. It wasn’t possible for us to go back as a family, but my parents helped me out, and 6 years later I went back as an exchange student. That is STILL the best year of my life.

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel February 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      @Maria, I LOVE that! Parents has so much power over how their kids end up looking at life. We can squash their enthusiasm or encourage it to bloom.

      • Maria February 18, 2013 at 12:51 am #

        @Nancy Sathre-Vogel, that’s very true. I have no doubt that my love of travelling – not to mention my comfort with travelling – is completely due to how my parents handled it when I was a child. I went on my first solo trip at age 16 and had no qualms about it at all, because I knew I was capable of getting around. Granted, it’s pretty near impossible to get lost in an airport when you know the language, but still 😉

        • Nancy Sathre-Vogel February 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

          @Maria, I made the decision to join the Peace Corps when I was 16 – just after I got home from a family vacation to Mexico. That trip my parents took me on as a teenager quite literally changed my life!

  3. Nathan Hershley February 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Personally, I think it is great you are letting them set their own priorities and that you have given them such an experience. More kids should be as trusted with such important decisions. 🙂

  4. Cinda February 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    You have definitely empowered Davy and Daryl – and I applaud you for it. As I look back on raising my son, I so often considered going overseas with him but let my family affect my decision. It would have been a life changing experience for both of us even though I’ve lived/worked in more than 30 countries before he was born.
    Today I’m planning to step away from ‘conventional living’ – actually I’ve already made the first step last year by putting most of my stuff in storage and living with some friends. After my son is married in October, I will start a cycling adventure that will last for 1-2 years and take me around the USA, Europe, Africa, and possibly Australia/New Zealand.
    Knowing you has helped me grow my belief that anything is possible. Make a decision, make a plan, work to achieve, and then realize the dream. I imagine it won’t be long til we actually meet somewhere in person and ride together even if it’s just you showing me the trails around Boise.

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel February 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      @Cinda, I am so very inspired by you Cinda! You truly have take back the reins of your life and are jumping in with such enthusiasm. Your bike journey will change your life in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.

  5. Lisa February 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Options – one of the many sources of suffering of the elite! We too have been struggling with the same kind of decision – to stay and enjoy the wonderful luxuries we have here, or to go and live a more raw life… open to adventures and challenges too.

    One thing I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around lately is the idea that none of my decisions really matter. In many ways, my existence will be determined by my character, my attitude, rather than my decisions. If we stay, or if we go, we will still be ourselves.

    Kahlil Gibran has a quote I like about the topic:
    My house says to me, “Do not leave me, for here dwells your past.”
    And the road says to me, “Come and follow me, for I am your future.”
    And I say to both my house and the road, “I have no past, nor have I a future. If I stay here, there is a going in my staying; and if I go there is a staying in my going. Only love and death will change all things.”

    I love that, because in truth, we only have the moment and everything around us, including ourselves, is always changing.

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel February 16, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      @Lisa, For sure! I totally agree that this this whole option problem is a first world problem. And you are right – we will still be who we are, regardless of what we do.

      One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the idea that the next ten years will pass regardless of what I do or don’t do. 2013 will come and I will be 62 years old. What do I want these ten years to look like when I look back on them?

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