Healing With Travel
Peggy Johnston’s husband died unexpectedly in 2007, just two months after her retirement. She was thrust into the biggest transition period of her life, but she didn’t lock the door and throw away the key. Peggy saw this as an opportunity to begin a new journey — on her own. “After my husband died, I knew that I wanted and needed to start a new life,” she said. “I was retired, my adult children had their own lives, and I wanted to learn more about other places and cultures.”
But just like many female solo travelers, Peggy needed a little push. One day in 2009, she received an invitation to join Road Scholar’s safari in South Africa, a destination that had always been at the top of her list. “It fell into my lap, and it was a dream of mine,” says Peggy. “I didn’t even take a breath. I signed up immediately.”
Not only did Peggy sign up for this life-list trip, but she committed to a life of exploration by selling her home. “That somewhat impulsive decision transformed my life, and I’ve been a nomad ever since.” Today, Peggy Johnston, 65, has been on more than 20 Road Scholar programs, nine of them as a solo traveler.
Although her family was skeptical, Peggy wasn’t afraid of making this epic life change. “The reason I’m not personally afraid of traveling on my own is because of what started me on this journey. When my husband passed away, that was a life-changing event. I promised myself that I would never ever let fear stop me from experiencing life.”
“The reason I’m not personally afraid of traveling on my own is because of what started me on this journey. When my husband passed away, that was a life-changing event. I promised myself that I would never ever let fear stop me from experiencing life.”
Not only is Peggy a trailblazer in this new wave of female solo travelers, she is also passing that love of learning and travel down to the next generations. Last year, Peggy went on her first Road Scholar family adventure to the Grand Canyon with her daughter, 10-year-old granddaughter and her granddaughter’s other grandmother.
For maturing women who are hesitant to enroll in their first solo trip, Peggy suggests starting small. “Do something close to home that doesn’t last very long,” says Peggy. “And then push the envelope, just a little bit.”
A good way to ease into traveling on your own is to go with a group of travelers who share your same interests. Peggy says that one of the things she likes most about traveling solo is that she makes new friends along the way. She also says that traveling with a group lets you relax and enjoy your experience, while local experts introduce you to the best things to do in a new place.
Her last piece of advice? “Don’t let fear woo you. We’ve all got to go sometime, so you might as well make the most of it.”
What are some tips you’d give to a first time solo traveler? What was your first solo trip like?
Thinking of trying your first solo trip? Still have questions?
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By: Stacie Fasola, a public relations professional at Road Scholar.