Family on Bikes

family-on-bikesAfter 21 years of classroom teaching, Nancy Sathre-Vogel and her husband decided life was too short to live the life of others. After making the decision to grab life by the horns and steer it their own way, the Vogel family spent nearly three years pedaling southward.

Along with their two children, they began a 17,300 mile bicycle journey from Alaska to Argentina which spanned nearly three years and fifteen countries. They’ve documented their journey online at Now, their goal is to inspire and encourage others to do the same.

Today we invite you to watch Nancy’s short TEDx talk and read her post, Making the decision to live a life less ordinary, which contains links to other articles she’s written on various topics, including why they decided to travel as a family and what daily life was like for this biking family.


What was your biggest takeaway from Nancy? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?


  1. Michelle Grachek Michelle Grachek says:

    Wow! This was really interesting. I have family in Fairbanks, AK and this area is brutal terrain. So for this family to have navigated this by bike is amazing to me. I went to their website and read more about them and their kids. What was more interesting is that they do not make excuses such as “well, the kids are in school so I cannot do this” or “we have gymnastics this night, so we cannot go”, they are just living their dream. Their kids celebrated their first four years of life in four different countries. What an experience. I made the connection as they were doing it with twins and I always use the excuse as it is too hard because I have two the same age so things are always more difficult because of that.

    I guess if I was looking at what I would like to do would be to up and go places with my family spontaneously. Everything has to be planned around here down to is our bathroom clean enough to leave. I just want to look at and say hey, let’s go to Alaska in 3 weeks and visit family or Amsterdam or South Carolina. Everything is months in the planning. I guess I ask why? My husband and I used to decide on a whim to go to Washington DC the next weekend before we had children. Now, we are so different. Maybe we need to rethink this.

    • There are definitely more logistics with kids involved, but they are usually more flexible and resilient than we give them credit for. Plus I think that it’s really good for kids to see their parents to be spontaneous once in a while. It’s important to teach them that it’s ok to take risks, especially if we are uncertain about the outcomes, because good thing can come out of it, even if it’s not what we hoped for. And of course, the best way to teach kids anything is by our example. (Oh how I wish they’d just listen to what I say and not pay as much attention to what I do. :)

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      Benig spontaneous is not easy in the adult world. So much value is placed on the knowns. Lead the way with some little spontaneous efforts, maybe even super trivial stuff to start, like an overnight nearby or a weekend driving trip. Work your way up to these bigger ones! Just an idea… :)

  2. Avatar Rachel Nash says:

    The most meaningful sentence for me was “it’s up to us to start the process… we need to forget about that fear of failure and put our faith in an unknown future.” At the EA Summit last summer, one of my biggest takeaways was that my challenge to change is fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of the “what-ifs”. I still have that fear inside of me, but watching this video lit another fire under me to let go of it and move forward! I’ve got a 50% chance of failure, but if I don’t try it will be 100%!!

  3. Lynn Carter Lynn Carter says:

    Man, if I didn’t have to share custody, I would be traveling all over with my kids, and I would never experience winter again! I have no interest in doing it on a bike, though. . . I am planning and working to develop streams of income that aren’t necessarily passive, but that can be done online or otherwise at a distance, so that when the time comes, I will not be tied to a particular place.

  4. Jason Love Jason Love says:

    This is a really hard question…
    What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?
    The first thing to come to mind is to make more films.
    The more I think about it, I want to change that to make more art altogether.

    My big fear is trying to make a living by making art. The potential of spending months or years on a project and becoming broke. That scares me.

    • I think this is a classic opportunity for tinkering! Make art like crazy on the side until it can support you. There is a lot of romanticism in taking a big giant leap, but there is a lot of wisdom in starting with small steps. Requires a lot of hustle, though, because it’s easy to allow excuses to keep us from doing the work…

  5. Kimberly McCue Kimberly McCue says:

    My favorite part was from the post, where she said that the hardest part was just making the decision to go on the adventure in the first place. I think if I wasn’t so afraid, I would allow myself to be more eccentric. I’m kind of an oddball (probably like most people deep down) but have a history of being bullied and intimidated by other people, so I’ve learned to really try and blend in with people and their environments. Doing so has unfortunately had its perks, especially around the workplace and family members. I find it hard to stop. I get afraid of what other people would think, say, or do if I didn’t go along with the crowd.

    • Please know you are not alone, Kimberly. (Both on the oddball part and the afraid part. :) Thanks for your honesty!

  6. Debbie Green Debbie Green says:

    this exact question came up in a group I went to last week! If I were not afraid I would just be the peson that Jesus created me to be even if others don’t like you for that! (2 sisters) BUT I am getting much closer!!!!
    My take away from her is, wow…that took a lot of guts, I am so proud of them for that journey and all that they learned, and I think they are all freaking crazy!

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      I agree with you 100% Debbie! I’m definitely not being called to “this” type of adventure, but it’s sure a good challenge to see their example!

  7. Melissa LeFever Melissa LeFever says:

    I bought a magnet a looong time ago that is a little cartoon of the “demon of doubt” and he is saying “better to never try, than to try and fail.” I have used it as encouragement to fight my hardest battle- to have courage to try! It’s worked in many small areas, but I’m still hesitant in big decisions. How inspiring this story is- Nancy overcame that fear and on the other side of that fear was pure awesome. So what’s waiting on the other side of my fear? I had a whole plan for writing and speaking- have a book nearly written- have blogs started and stopped. Have a passion to help people create healthy relationships and the info to help them do it. There’s pure awesome on the other side, whether I will succeed or fail, it’s going to be awesome. It might not be easy, but I like the reminder that universe conspires to help us. Well, I guess I best go prepare myself as I am going to upset my current status quo very soon :)

    • Good stuff, Melissa! I love the idea of that magnet, a very interesting kind of reverse psychology angle. :)

    • Kim Kotecki Kim Kotecki says:

      “Well, I guess I best go prepare myself as I am going to upset my current status quo very soon.” WOO HOO! Cheering you on!

  8. Mary Eickemeyer Mary Eickemeyer says:

    My biggest take away is that we need to forget about the fear of failure and head into an unknown future with faith. I feel this way sometimes when I am driving off on a new adventure or are headed for a new experience. When I hit the gas, I feel like I am flying. I am hurling myself towards a new exciting adventure with abandon and I will have plenty to talk about when I get through. I love that feeling!

  9. Sarah Tipperreiter Sarah Tipperreiter says:

    Loved Nancy’s insight from her Bogota experience – that the universe will help us, but WE must start the process. Have faith, but take steps. So true! It reminds me of the Picasso quote: “Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.”

  10. Avatar Dave Timmerman says:

    when she realized that 50 percent failure meant 50 percent success. To do nothing would be 100 per cent failure.

  11. Angela Dunlap Angela Dunlap says:

    “The universe providing” is what resonates with me. When I have trusted it, I have found that it does provide what I need, not necessarily what I think I need and not necessarily what I expect, but that’s what makes life exciting. One thing I would do if I did not know fear is what Jason suggested during the first Escape Lab Live event: I would go to the airport and buy a ticket to a random destination to see where that would lead.

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