If Nancy Can Do It, So Can We

People have asked me why my family and I are going on this crazy adventure. What gave us the idea to sell all of our stuff and try traveling full time?

I was inspired to try something crazy by people who were already doing the impossible.

I first heard about the Vogel family in July. I’d mentioned something on twitter about wanting to travel more, really nothing more than a random thought blasted into cyberspace. Someone sent me a link to the Family on Bikes website.

Nancy and John Vogel, along with their twin 10-year old boys, have been bicycling down the Pan-American Highway for more than two years.


They started in Alaska and headed towards a Guiness World Record. When they reach the southern tip of South America in Ushuaia, Argentina, their twin boys – who are now 13 – will become the youngest people to ever cycle the entire Pan American Highway.

After more than 32 months on the road, they are just days away from reaching their goal.

And I met Nancy on Twitter.

Like everyone else I talk to on Twitter, she’s a regular woman. She’s a wife, mother and teacher who claims she was carrying an extra 40 pounds when she agreed to bicycle across two continents.

She calls herself her family’s “weakest link” because the males can ride faster and farther than she can, but I suspect she’s selling herself short. When her husband and children came to her with a larger-than-life dream, she said OK even though she was afraid. There’s nothing “weak” about that, even if she is the slowest one on a bike.

I sometimes think it takes even more courage to support your spouse’s dream than it does to follow your own.

That’s not to say that this isn’t Nancy’s dream, too. While Nancy is the one who writes openly about struggling and wanting to quit, she also talks constantly about all of the amazing things she’s seeing and doing with her husband and kids. She talks, too, about her confidence in herself as she nears the completion of this monumental goal.

When I asked her what she’d learned about herself on this trip, she said, “That I can do anything. I won’t do it fast. I won’t do it elegantly. But I can do whatever I decide I want to do. If I can pedal my heavy bike from the tippy top of North America to the very bottom of South America, what can’t I do??”

Nancy’s story – the story she’s putting together at 50 years old with a husband and two teenage boys – is remarkable. Her courage and perseverance are inspiring.

But Nancy is really not that different from me or you.

She can do anything.

She may not do it fast. She may not do it elegantly.

But she can do whatever she decides she wants to do.

And if Nancy can get on her bike and pedal over 17,000 miles from the tippy top of North America to the very bottom of South America, what can’t we do?

Read more about Nancy and her family at FamilyOnBikes.org, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.


I’ve gotten a few questions on Twitter and at least one mention in the comments about how the Vogels can afford to take this trip. Since it’s also listed on their FAQ and was a question I also asked, I figured I’d add that info here!

Their original plan was to rent out their house and use the savings in their retirement fund. At this point in their journey, about half of their expenses are covered by the rent from their home back in Idaho and the remaining portion is covered by donations, income from the website, and income from articles Nancy writes. Anything not covered at the end of the month comes out of the retirement account. As Nancy points out often, it’s important to remember that they are living and traveling on a relatively small budget. The entire family of four only spends about $1500 a month right now.

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