These women travellers are still travelling the world when most people their age are thinking about retirement. Aged 60+, they’re still finding new and fascinating things to see and do every single day. Some came to travel later in life, for others it has been a life-long love affair. What unites them is a willingness to share the wisdom gained from years, decades, on the road. These remarkable women forged a path through a world previously reserved for men – that of the male independent solo traveller – and opened it up to the rest of us.
The grandmama of female travel: Evelyn Hannon
Evelyn’s story will be familiar to many Thelma & Louise Clubbers. After her divorce in 1984, this mum of two teenage daughters felt ready to see the world. Disappointed by the lack of female-friendly travel information available then – especially for solo women travellers – Evelyn started making notes of her own travels and the seed for Journeywoman was sown. Evelyn started Journeywoman in 1994, with a 20-page mini-magazine. It launched online in 1997; nowadays Journeywoman is the wise old grandmother of online female travel. Evelyn’s now well into her 70s and Journeywoman is stronger than ever – as is her urge to travel. She lives in Toronto but has visited all seven continents and still wants to see more. Scotland’s Orkney Islands and the remotest parts of Canada are top of her list.
The forever ex-pat: Nancie McKinnon
Nancie gave up her corporate job for a year to travel. That was in 2000. Now in her 60s, she teaches to support her travelling lifestyle, and set up Budget Travellers Sandbox to inspire other solo boomer women to hit the road. Nancie is currently in Nova Scotia, but lives in South Korea. She’s been to 40 counties and still counting, from Canada to Antarctica. If you want tips on budget travel, foodie travel or, erm, travelling with a cat, Nancie is your go-to gal.
The soul searcher: Barbara Weibel
Barbara Weibel gave up her unsatisfying job to travel in 2007, after a life-changing episode of chronic Lyme disease. At first glance, the name of Barbara Weibel’s travel site, Hole in the Donut, seems rather bizarre but it will make a lot of sense to many Thelma & Louise Club readers once you hear her explanation: “I was like a donut – a wonderful outer shell with an empty, hollow inside. I could no longer ignore the need to feel that I was living a purposeful life. I needed to fill the hole in my donut.”
“Now she’s in her 60s and permanently on the road. In fact, she doesn’t even maintain a home base.”
“That was in 1995, a time when a woman packing it in to travel was far from the norm.”
You’ll find Lea Lane’s best stories in the pages of a book rather than online. A seasoned, award-winning travel writer, she’s visited more than 100 countries and written guide books to various US states but if you read only one thing by Lea, make it her Travel Tales I Couldn’t Put in the Guidebooks. It’s a personal anthology of both the joys and harsh realities of travelling, accrued from her 40+ years of travel writing. Her personal journey is just as interesting as her geographical one; she’s been divorced, widowed, a teacher, a mother, an actor and an off-Broadway producer as well as a writer.
Have you read the inspiring stories of two of our own 60 years-plus adventurers? Margot is in her 60s, yet she recently travelled by herself through Canada’s remote Yukon territory photographing bears. Bernadette, “61 years young”, was motivated to sell her home and possessions, take early retirement and buy a one-way ticket to Belize after a friend’s sudden and unexpected death from a heart aneurysm. Their remarkable attitudes show that we can all do exceptional things, regardless of – or even because of – our age.