International Women's Day Guest: Evelyn Hannon, Journey Woman With International Women's Day on March 8, I thought it would be fitting in today's post to honour women travellers all over the world, and who better to celebrate than award-winning blogger and world traveller Evelyn Hannon of www.journeywoman.com. [caption id="attachment_9143" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Evelyn (right) at Sea for 108 days (Courtesy: Journey Woman)"] [/caption] Question: If a woman hesitates to travel on her own, or experiences a moment of doubt at the thought of venturing out solo, what’s the first thing she should say to (or ask) herself?
Evelyn, Journey Woman: I'm going to answer this question with a short vignette from my own life. I was newly divorced in 1982 after more than 20 years of travelling with my husband. I remember planning my first solo trip to Europe with great trepidation. I was so excited at the prospect of testing myself against the world and yet so afraid of the unknown. I recall my exaggerated imagining of all the terrible things that could go wrong - being robbed, getting lost, dealing with more loneliness than I could bear. At that point I had to ask myself the all-important question: Do I really want to have this particular experience? Of course, my answer was yes. [caption id="attachment_9090" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Evelyn Hannon in Costa Rica: Living the dream one journey at a time (Courtesy: Journey Woman)"] [/caption] Then I gave myself the permission that I've given myself before every new adventure I've set off on since that day. It goes like this: Remember that you have a return plane ticket. If you don't like the destination, or the situation becomes too much to bear, just turn around and come home. Just knowing that makes you brave enough to step out the door and, of course, few travellers every come home early.Question: Is there one particular travel moment that you'd love to live over and over again?
Evelyn, Journey Woman:I'd pick the 108 days of 'incredible moments' I experienced on a ship that circumnavigated the globe in 2008. I was invited to be the 'embedded' blogger for Semester At Sea (Semesteratsea.org), a shipboard program for global study abroad. That meant it was my job to blog to the world the highlights of my days on board as well as ashore. Imagine the fun of being on a floating campus with 750 university students (young and older), fifty professors and the ship's dedicated crew. [caption id="attachment_9086" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Evelyn about to board the MV Explorer: her home for 180 days (Courtesy: Journey Woman)"] [/caption] We sailed and studied together for three months. Our itinerary consisted of four continents and 14 city ports along the way. The energy of the students combined with the travel and educational opportunities I received can't be put into words. This travel experience was like winning gold at the Olympics. Question: What do you consider to be your best hands-on travel experience?
Evelyn, Journey Woman:My best hands-on travel experience was just this year. I was invited by Trafalgar Tours (www.trafalgar.com/can) to sample their ' Be My Guest program in France and Italy. Their itineraries are designed to take you deeper into the culture and introduce you to people, places and to enjoy 'hands-on' experiences you would find difficult to recreate on your own. I absolutely loved my time with Libero, a Tuscan chef with a big smile and a huge personality. He took us to a produce market in Florence, handed out our shopping lists (in Italian!) and then an hour later he gathered us together again and led us to his restaurant high in the Chianti hills. [caption id="attachment_9089" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Our effusive, big-hearted chef from Tuscany: Libero (Courtesy: Journey Woman)"] [/caption] Oh my goodness, we had fun! Together we made soup and learned to make fresh pasta from scratch. We stuffed ravioli and baked biscotti and, of course, drank wine throughout the process. When all the cooking was done we sat down to eat and eat and eat. To top it off we were serenaded with classic Italian love songs. Events like this can become kitschy but this Tuscan immersion felt authentic and welcoming. It was a delight; I'll long remember that experience - and Libero.Question: Do you have any advice for the 20 or 30something female traveller?
Evelyn, Journey Woman:Travelling to immerse yourself in another culture is one of the best learning experiences you will ever have. Be prepared for the intense inner journey as well as the outer journey you are embarking on. There will be times when you will feel lonely. That's normal. Just remember that you can use that emotion to your advantage. Enroll in workshops along the way, stay at hostels where other young folks gather, or seek out restaurants with communal tables. That reaching out can produce excellent introductions and new friendships that will make you love solo travel even more.Question: Is there any one thing you would recommend a women traveller never do?
Evelyn, Journey Woman:On my first solo journey I had a bright red sweater with a big yellow sun created especially for me. I thought it would attract people to me and as a solo traveller I'd get the lovely opportunity to meet a lot of people along the way. However, in my naivete, I didn't think that it would also attract every tout and social deviant for miles. Sadly, I became a walking target for anybody who might have wanted 'to do me evil' Very quickly I discarded that sweater and adopted a new mantra which I remain true to until today. It is, "Dress down, not up. We travel to observe, rather than to be observed."Question: Where is are you headed next?
Evelyn, Journey Woman: By the time you read this I will have returned from my stint as a panelist at the New York Times Travel Show. Coming up in May is Whitehorse, Yukon. Then I'm hoping to be in Berlin during the summer or early fall and from there I'd like to do some train travel with a EuroRail Pass. I'm not sure where I'd like to go but I do know it will be to small towns rather than big cities. Finally, I'm already dreaming of Southern India from a woman's point of view; I'll be there as a guest of Indus Travel in November of this year.If you'd like to know more about Evelyn, visit her poplar web site www.journeywoman.com..