Today’s guest post is provided by Patty.
Patty is an amazing and inspiring woman in her 60’s who has been traveling as a Solo Female for over 40 years.
Patty just proves that a life of travel is possible.
When and where was your first traveling experience?
I started traveling in 1965, when I was a senior in high school. My parents had shipped me off to Germany to live with relatives at an Air Force base. This was to get me away from an “undesirable” boyfriend. When I turned 18 I took my first trip; taking the train from Frankfurt to Berlin alone.
What prompted you to start traveling?
I don’t think I ever consciously made a decision to travel; it just worked out that way. I liked it better than a life in the USA.
I no longer felt that I “fit in” with mainstream America. I felt more at home in other countries as a foreigner, where people were eager to tell me about their cultures, ideas, and customs.
Everybody sets goals for themselves, usually when they’re quite young. Mine was to go everywhere, see everything, and be everybody! Some say you actually set these goals before birth.
I’ve noticed that there are many people out there who MUST travel. Some people are just nomadic.
I discovered an unexpected side effect of this adventure. When you step outside of your own culture you see a different reality or a different take on reality. Your internal borders expand when you cross the physical border. You see things that are impossible to see from within the circle of your own society.
I think for the first few decades of traveling, I was hoping to find a “perfect society” somewhere. Now, I travel for the sheer joy of it. I no longer expect to find the perfect society. My society is now other expats, people who like me prefer to live “somewhere else.”
Will you ever stop traveling?
I did settle down for several years. I had my child and didn’t resume traveling until he was 14. We went to Korea, Honduras, Mexico, and North Africa, (where I taught). He is an adult now, and very happily living in one place!
Sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to actually own a house and have a decent amount of money, but I suspect I would be bored, if not dead. Not being happy is a big killer, I suspect. I feel that if you live that kind of life you’re not even a tiny bit free, no matter how free you think your country is.
Do you worry about medical issues on the road?
Medical issues on the road can be a problem, because you can’t always get the medication that you need. For example, I never did find Benadryl in China. Instead I found a herbal concoction that seemed to work pretty well. Whilst living in China I really got into acupuncture and Chinese herbs, they really are wonderful.
In Mexico I over-exerted myself big time, and was in awful pain. I bought some liniment from an old woman selling herbal goo, and it was amazing! I suspect it contained peyote, or something similar, because my students later told me they frequently put peyote in liniments.
So, I just try to find out what to do when and if I need a doctor. Locals usually know what cures local ailments.
How do you afford a life of traveling?
I get by with teaching English. I’m not a qualified teacher, but most people just want to practice their English speaking or listening skills.
I also have a tiny social security income, which helps a little. I try to make enough to live on through teaching alone, and let the social security income fill the gap.
Do you ever worry about what the future holds for you?
Sometimes I do worry about what will happen when I’m too old/not healthy enough to travel, or live in another country. I don’t ever want to be a burden on my son or anyone else.
Frankly, I never expected to live this long, and I’m quite surprised to still be here at 65. I smoke, eat street food and don’t worry too much. I ride chicken buses, go to “dangerous” countries, and never get inoculations for dreadful diseases, and here I still am.
At times, usually late at night, I worry, and rather wish I had planned ahead a little more.
I met a woman in Nicaragua who is a lot like me, except she’s 79! She manages to live on $300 a month, and also dreads the day when she can’t take care of herself! She also rides the chicken buses and hauls her own luggage around! She is fluent in Spanish and does translations for extra money.
Where are you now?
I’m currently in Bogota, Colombia. I was in China for 2 years, then a year in Cambodia. Cambodia’s a fascinating country but I didn’t want to stay there a long time. It’s a difficult country to live in.
I then went back to the US for a month or so to visit. After that I traveled to Nicaragua (which I didn’t like much), then to Costa Rica (which I disliked heartily).
So I am now in Bogota, and so far so good. I am thinking of spending a year here, then maybe moving on to Ecuador or Egypt.
Thank you to Patty for her inspiring story!
I was truly empowered by Patty’s story – the fact that she has lived her dream for 40 years.
Do you have plans to travel for the longhaul?