Journeywoman is 25 years old. That may not sound like a lot to you but in the publishing world, it is a major achievement. In the digital publishing universe, it is unheard of. I met the Journeywoman herself, Evelyn Hannon on a press trip to Key West, Florida two years ago and if you think she is impressive online wait till you meet her in person. She is quiet, thoughtful, funny, warm, caring and confident in a way that says she has been through it and come out better and stronger. Quite simply put Evelyn Hannon and Journeywoman is a gift to female solo travellers all over the world. I’m lucky enough to call her friend and what better present can I give my friend on this momentous occasion than to share her with you.
If you want to get to know Evelyn outside of her travel adventures you just have to look at her family. She has raised two accomplished and beautiful daughters and has the good fortune of being surrounded by Grandchildren that want to travel with her.
So let’s introduce you to Evelyn Hannon, her daughter Erica Ehm and her grandson Josh Moshenberg. 25 questions with the answers all in their own words. One family, three generations. All the photos used in this story are courtesy of Evelyn, Erica and Josh.
Dalmation Coast – Trying to get this local woman to understand via sign language what a selfie is. The only time I got a smile was when I showed her our completed picture. #croatia #dalmationcoast #selfie #iphone6 #iphonephotooftheday #summer #teachings #curious #travel #travelphotography #travelbloggerA post shared by Evelyn Hannon (@evelynhannon) on
1. What made you start Journey Woman? I started Journeywoman out of necessity. In 1984 I was the newly divorced mom of two teenaged daughters ready to see the world. Until then, like most women, I had never travelled solo and was sadly disappointed when I searched library shelves for any tidbits of female-friendly travel information. Sadly, there was nothing. I set off on a month-long journey anyway, learning from experience and filling a diary with my own tips – hotels I felt safe in, restaurants where I wasn’t seated by the kitchen door and how to dress in a culturally correct manner.
Then it dawned on me. While I wasn’t a worldwide travel expert by any stretch of the imagination I certainly could counsel other women about the destinations I had already been to. My mind skipped to… if I can locate other females in other parts of the world who had their own small set of tips then I’d have a starting point for a solution. Perhaps we could all join together to form a network of women willing to help and inspire other women to travel safely and well. Computer use was not prevalent then. Contacts were made via snail mail and fax machine.
Work behind the scenes began in 1993. The name Journeywoman was chosen. In September 1994 my first 20-page mini magazine featuring female-centred travel tips hit the newsstands. The online version of Journeywoman.com premiered in 1997. I’m proud to report that from an initial 100 members, this year 77,000+ women from countries worldwide contribute personal travel tips via the Journeywoman Newsletter. A loyal following of advertisers supports the site and all information can be accessed without payment of any kind.
2. Journey Woman is celebrating 25 years. What does this milestone mean to you? Looking back at the last 25 years, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this kind of success. Still, I don’t ever fool myself. Though I’m the only person at the helm of the Journeywoman Network I could never, ever coordinate this effort without women worldwide checking in with their travel secrets and tidbits and tips and encouragement and affection.
3. What is your earliest travel memory? My earliest memories of travel are not so great. Each summer in the Forties my parents would load the car with supplies and we would vacation in the Canadian Laurentians. That was always exciting except the summer days were always so hot, the car was not air-conditioned and my younger brother was always carsick. I had to share the back seat with him. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
4. What has travel taught you about yourself? Above all, travel has taught me confidence. Time and again I have proven to myself that I can and must get through situations even when I am scared silly. It has also taught me that a common language is not necessary to communicate with others. I’ve learned to use my hands, my smile and my iPhone camera to make friends as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
5. What has travel taught you about others? I’ve been to all seven continents and one thing stands out about the many people I’ve met along the way. It seems that they are as curious about me as I am about them. That curiosity has led to countless wonderful encounters. A few standouts include … I’ve had Chinese food cooked for me by a Beijing grandmother, I’ve sung nonsense songs with young children in the Philippines, a motorcycle policeman in Ghana, Africa became my Facebook friend, I cooked Swedish meatballs in a Japanese kitchen, and in Switzerland, I donned rubber boots and along with the farmer herded those big beautiful cows with brass bells around their necks. These were all simple things but they make such wonderful memories. I’ll bet those folks remember me, too.
6. Do you have a trip from the past 25 years that stands out in your mind? Good, bad or a great life lesson. Semester at Sea is a multi-country study abroad program on a ship open to all students of all majors. When I was 68 years old I proposed the idea of me becoming the embedded blogger reporting to the world via my website. My proposal was accepted and for three months I joined 750 college students, 12 older adults (students) and their professors as we circumnavigated the globe. As I said in my own diary, ‘This is travel on the water. It’s the real thing. For me sailing/cruising represents a time in history before we had the luxury of exploring via cars, trains and planes. It’s the way Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo did it (well not exactly, but you know what I mean:)’. We stopped in 12 countries in four nations. For me, it really was the trip of a lifetime on a floating college campus.
7. Is there a trip you haven’t done that you are aching to do even after 25+ years of travel? Of course! There is still so much to see of the ‘wild, lonely, places’ here in Canada It’s where my heart is at the moment. There are the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba, Fogo Island in Newfoundland, and the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut in Canada’s Far North. Farther away, I won’t be happy until I see the often barren, beautiful Orkney Islands that belong to Scotland. Why the Orkneys? When I was young I saw a movie shot there, I fell in love with the landscape and have never forgotten it.
8. You’ve travelled solo, with friends and with family. Do you have a preference and why? When I was younger, I only travelled solo. It was just me and my backpack, and I loved the challenge. Now that I am past the 75-year mark, catching up with friends via travel is a joy and an excellent support system for all of us. However, nothing compares to the pleasure I am presently getting by inviting my teenage grandchildren to join me on adventures. Not only does it strengthen our family bonds but I understand full well that they will be backpacking on their own soon. This is my grandmother-journeywoman way of providing them with ‘on-site’ training for their own future solo adventures. It’s the circle of life!
9. Do you have a travel style? Do you research, plan and then follow an itinerary or do you go with the flow, or a combination of both? Heh, heh, heh! My travel style is so relaxed. I simply ask the Journeywoman Network via my Facebook page who has been to that destination, where they’ve stayed, the restaurants they felt comfortable in, their personal contacts if any, and the highlights of what they’ve seen and done. So much wonderful, practical information comes back to me that all I have to do is consult our Network’s list of suggestions and I’m good to go. Basically, It’s a case of Journey Women helping Journey Women helping Journey Women.
18.Who is your travel inspiration? My travel inspiration is definitely my grandmother Evelyn. I’ve wanted to travel like her and experience the world like she does, for as long as I can remember.
19.What is your earliest travel memory? I think my earliest travel memory would be travelling to Arizona with my family. We tried crazy different things like hot air ballooning and dunebuggying, I loved it.
20. What has travel taught you about yourself? Travel has already taught me an endless amount, but I think what travel has taught me about myself, is that I learn the most when I’m travelling. Not when I’m in school, and not when I expect to learn something. But, when I’m least expecting it, my eyes will be opened by a crazy experience.
21. What has travel taught you about others? What travel has taught me about others, is that we all know so much different stuff, and we all have so much different knowledge, that we could all learn so much from each other. You just can’t be too proud to learn.
22. Do you have any travel bucket list destinations? For my bucket list, going back to Kenya is definitely on top, but another big one for me would be going to Vietnam’s mountainous rice fields
23. What experiences and adventures are you most looking forward to when you travel? For me, when I travel, one of my favourite things I always look forward to is meeting lots of cool people and having interesting conversations. I love meeting new people and talking to them. Another adventure I always look forward to is just getting lost wherever I am and enjoying it.
24. On your recent travels to Africa did you have any preconceptions of where you wearing going that has changed since being there for yourself? To be honest, before going to Kenya, I expected to see a lot of unhappy people. I figured because of the conditions there, people wouldn’t be too happy. When I arrived all I saw were huge smiles, hugs, and joyous song singing! I was very surprised by many of the things I saw in Kenya.
25. You went to Africa with we.org and I hear it has inspired you. Can you share some of that experience and what it has inspired you to do now that you are back in Canada? Going to Africa really, really changed my perspective on everything. I didn’t expect to come back that changed. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The people are so kind and WE.org is making a huge difference. After seeing how many schools they’ve built, and how many lives they’ve changed, I knew I had to do something. Now, back in the city, I’ve started Project Fingers to Fist. The end goal is to build a school in Kenya. It’s a very important cause to me, and I hope you guys see it too.