SIGRID CARTER’S LIFE STORY IS WORTHY OF BECOMING A MOVIE. This was true before she even turned 30. As an adventurous girl in her 20s, she and three girlfriends from Germany trekked from Colorado to the Pacific coast of Panama, where the group of friends took a canoe into the ocean, got lost and found themselves surrounded by sharks, just as bad weather set in. Somehow, they survived. The tide carried them to the shores of Columbia, where they spent time living with Indians. Further into their exciting adventure, they assisted biologists researching the Amazon rain forests. The chief of that US expedition later became Sigrid’s husband. A Peruvian filmmaker did, in fact, turn the ordeal into a television movie, but before the girls had the chance to see the movie, they were already in Chile busy continuing their lives most of us can only imagine.
It was her adventurous spirit that led Carter to set up her agency, Envoyé Travel, in 1971 in Lubbock, TX, where her husband has established himself as an associate dean at Texas Tech University. Lest you think married life and having operated a successful business for nearly half a century has tamed her, Carter kayaks every morning, and a few days after we spoke she was on her way to a polar bear expedition in Churchill, Canada. “Whatever you do in life is a big commitment, so it needs to be fun,” says Carter, who’s been to all seven continents. “I love the travel business. There is nothing more fun in life than talking about destinations.” And Carter has a lot of stories to tell—so much so that she landed the cover of Travel Agent in 1992 and has since published a book, Travel Like a Millionaire Without Being One, to show the reader how she adventured, many times luxuriously.
Her zest for life is infectious. She personally runs select small group trips, leading people on a pilgrimage to Santiago, Spain, and taking others to the Arctic Circle to stay with Eskimos. Next Christmas, she will take a small group to a village in her home of Germany, with a reception at a castle by the Baron and the Baroness, followed by a Christmas market experience. Many of the local operators she uses have been discovered—and vetted—through her own travels. “Wherever I go, I make friends,” Carter says, who also works with National Geographic Expeditions, American Express, and AMA Worldwide River Cruises. “I went to India and my goal was to experience yoga with the best teacher there. I checked the prices and it was $850 a night! I thought, ‘I’m not going to spend that kind of money.’” She left for India and on the way met a yoga teacher who invited her to dinner. “It turned out that the family is the number one yoga family in India—even the stars have studied with them,” Carter shares. “They live very, very basic, but the simplicity of their lifestyle is something that we all can learn from.”