Sheila Gallant-Halloran

Made-to-measure travel; please, go away! :-)

Finding your “42”- a chat with Journeywoman, Evelyn Hannon

If you punch “the answer to life, the universe and everything” into Google, you’ll get the answer 42!

I sat down with with the venerated Evelyn Hannon, of fame, and learned how she found her “42.”  And while the phrase from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy might not have been at the forefront of our discussion, it certainly was resonating with me.

Evelyn was 42 when her marriage dissolved, and she first decided to travel solo. (And, I was 42 when I had my second child, and decided to change careers.) We’d both stumbled (me blindly perhaps) upon our “answer to life, the universe and everything” being 42.

Course, Miss Evelyn’s solo travels had her leaving her comfortable nest (and adult children), donning a backpack,and hitting Europe solo for 5 weeks in 1982. Low on plans. Little money. Zero contacts. (How many of us would do that?) Her adventures led her to first start “Journey Woman” as a print magazine, which evolved into a webzine in 1997, and has now become THE online resource for women travellers. By the time I’d first met her on twitter, and had become one the 65,000 women in over 100 countries who’d signed up for her ezine/ newsletter list, she was already a travel world superstar.  

She is known as the  “grandmother of women’s travel”…. but I’m not sure that handle fits. Evelyn is certainly a grandmother. We first met in person at the Yummy Mummy Club’s Winterlude trip to Ottawa in February, where she was thoroughly enjoying the role of Bubby to her grandkids (children of her daughter, Erica Ehm, who’d started after her days at Much Music). Evelyn was also busily snapping pictures of other kids (including mine), and prompting fits of laughter from all.

She invited me to sit down with her on a return visit for the Travel Media Association’s annual general meeting in March at the Chateau Laurier. And her nuturing, grandmotherly nature was evident. But the “grandmother” label suggests a doddering old person, which Evelyn certainly is not. She embraces “aging disgracefully” – which works for me. (See her blog .)

Besides, not many grandmothers start tweeting at age 70. Evelyn quickly built a following of 11,000+ in a short time, and very few know about her pedigree (Time magazine had named one of the top 100 influential thinkers in 2000, she’s been featured in “People” magazine and the New York Times, and has appeared on “Good Morning America.” She also writes Bon Voyage’s “Her Only” for the Canadian government.).  But all tweeps know the kindly soul in the red frames.

I took away some Evelyn-isms from our meeting. Snippets that I know I’ll find enormously helpful as I grow my second career, and, more importantly, grow my two children! See if they might be helpful to you too!

– Be lonely. It’s a fact of life. Don’t ever NOT do something because you’re worried about being lonely. Starting a business is lonely, as is travelling solo. You can be lonely in your office job, or lonely on your apartment couch. So, why not be lonely on an adventure? 

-Be brave.  Go off the beaten path. You’ll learn more about a yourself, and any city, if you stray off the tourist path.  (We happily share the credo: without fear, there is no courage.)

-Befriend. Travel folks are enormously friendly, especially tweeps. Hotel staff will be enormously helpful about reasonably priced and safe places to eat and visit. Other tourists too. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up.

-Be cautious. Always safeguard your person. Never put yourself in a situation you can’t get out of.

-Be prepared. You never know what’s around the corner. Business can morph into new possibilities. A scarf can dress up black jeans and top. And hand sanitizers come in travel sizes.

-Be solid. Focus on what matters. Don’t worry about building bells and whistles. Build something you believe in that has substance, in business and in life. (Evelyn has never bowed to pressure to “jazz up”, focussing on content rather than worrying about being perceived as a dinosaur to those who want her to add flashes and zings – folks come for the info. And, despite all the accolades she’s earned in her life, her greatest joy comes from being introduced as “mother of Erica and Leslie”. )

-Be yourself. If you don’t, who will? (Save the assistance of a webmistress, is run solely by Evelyn. She controls all info and content, even font size – and ensures everything is in her voice, and matches her vision of being a resource to women.)

-Believe. Quiet the naysayers. Do what’s right for you.

Thank you, Evelyn, for finding your “42” – and for inspiring the rest of us to keep learning, and keep travelling.

You can contact Evelyn Hannon at, twitter @journeywoman , E-mail:


March 16, 2011 - Posted by | Lush Life Guest Bloggers, Lush Life Other Items

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