Meet Joy Fox, 89, the First Recipient of the JourneyWoman Evelyn Hannon Solo Travel Award

by | Mar 7, 2024

Joy Fox is the first recipient of the JourneyWoman Evelyn Hannon Award
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Last updated on March 19th, 2024

Featured image: Joy Fox is the winner of the first annual Evelyn Hannon award | Photo by Adrienne Guinn, Vital Image Photography

With decades of solo travel experience, Fox says if she can do it, so can you

by Carolyn Ray

It’s an honour to announce Joy Fox as the first recipient of the JourneyWoman Evelyn Hannon Solo Travel Award. When we first met virtually on a JourneyWoman Community Call in 2020, I was impressed by her kindness, generosity and love for solo travel, but more importantly, her vitality, sense of humour and candor. Whether it’s singing on a stage or at a karaoke party, Fox is up for just about anything — and if it’s not her cup of tea, she’ll let you know (but always with a smile and a laugh).

Fox’s boundless energy is astonishing, and her ability to share a story that helps you feel connected is legendary. As a member of the JourneyWoman community since 2005, Fox first travelled solo in 1956 from England to Italy, a story she shared in an article she penned called Healing After Heartbreak in June 2020. While that trip didn’t turn out as expected, it instilled in her the confidence to travel solo — she’s never looked back since.

“I’m never lonely when I travel solo,” she says. “I talk, smile and ask questions. I think there is great freedom in being a solo traveller and I plan to keep going and see everything.”

The dynamic Joy Fox

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1935, Fox moved to England at age four at the start of World War II. After being bombed out of her house during the blitz of WWII, Fox, her mom and her brothers were evacuated from London to St. Albans in Hertfordshire. She lived there until age 21, when she emigrated to Canada. After getting married to a Brit, she returned many times to England and later lived in Hertfordshire and Essex with her husband Mike.

Fox holds a Bachelor of Science and International Relations from Pacific Western University and  had a successful career as a meeting planner and communications manager, working for Fortune 500 companies. In 1995, Fox founded the Independent Meeting Planners Association of Canada (IMPAC), now renamed as the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CANSPEP), where she is an Emeritus Member. In recognition of her efforts, CANSPEP created an award in her name, the Joy Fox Award for Innovation. This is the only association in Canada dedicated to event entrepreneurs and the specific needs of running events while running your own business.

In 2015, Fox’s husband Mike passed away from Parkinson’s. As his caregiver, Fox says she hopes to advise others on the same journey.  She now lives on Vancouver Island, which she believes is the most beautiful part of Canada, with beautiful gardens, wildlife galore, wonderful beaches, trails and a caring community. She sings with a small band (Remember When) and has recorded five CDs. In addition to her passion for singing, Fox is also a writer and has published two books and is working on a third one now.  She has taught and written about knitting for the industry for years, as loves gardening and art, and has even created her own line of greeting cards. 

“My childhood was during WWII, so pretty grim, but I made myself a promise that I would never be hungry or dirty again, I would wear decent clothes and do what I could to make life better,” Fox says. “I made goals regularly, upgraded education when I could, had good jobs, a business, a long marriage, three good kids and now widowed for six years, moved five years ago to get to know and reinvent myself.”

Submit your nominations for the first annual JourneyWoman awards

The First Recipient of the JourneyWoman Evelyn Hannon Award

Announced in February 2023 for our 30th anniversary, the Evelyn Hannon Award is a new annual award that honours a woman in the JourneyWoman community who personifies the values of JourneyWoman founder Evelyn Hannon, helping to extend her legacy.  Not only has Fox written at least five articles for us, she’s sent along tens of travel tips, co-hosted our Solo Travel Course in 2021, hosted Community Calls, participates in our private Solo Travel Wisdom Facebook group and has been a valued member of the JourneyWoman Women’s Advisory Council since 2020. A talented singer, Fox has performed a beautiful holiday song every year at our last four Holiday Socials.

Fox posts almost every day on Facebook about her activities, which, in all honesty, I can’t even keep up with. Whether it’s gardening, entertaining, singing or travelling, Fox’s spirit of adventure, courage and passion are among the reasons that she is the perfect recipient for our very first Evelyn Hannon JourneyWoman Award. And her peers agree.

“This Award, chosen by Carolyn, recognizes Evelyn and JourneyWomen everywhere, what we stand for and it recognizes that Joy epitomizes it all,” says Brenda McCrank, who met Joy through the JourneyWoman Women’s Advisory Council when it was created in 2020. “Joy’s stories, full of positivity, feature a life dedicated to tenacious curiosity and courageous exploration, celebrating each kick-ass step she takes. I am honoured to call her a friend and look forward to the day we finally meet. My view of the world has expanded watching and reading about how Joy has taken the baton and run with it.”

Joy fox wearing a floral sweater

Joy Fox / Photo by Adrienne Guinn, Vital Image Photography

Carolyn Ray and Joy Fox

Carolyn Ray and Joy Fox at her home on Vancouver Island, Canada in 2023

“Joy Fox is my inspiration of living every single day,” says Sandy Biback, who has known Joy for over 30 years. “Twenty-five years ago, she created CanSPEP (Canadian Society of Special Event Planners) to elevate our profession. Little did I know that she was doing something no one in our industry had ever accomplished before. Today, there is no other group like CanSPEP in US or Canada.  Call it stubbornness, defiance, stick to it ness or whatever, that’s what I love and respect about Joy, so much so that we created The Joy Fox Award, which is given to a member who exemplifies so much of what Joy has accomplished. “

Solo Travel Wisdom with Joy Fox

Q1. What truth did you learn about yourself as a solo traveller?

A. I am braver than I ever thought I was. I can conquer the fear.

Q2. If you knew then what I know now, you would….

A. Have found a way to the things I dreamed about sooner. Took me a while to get the message.

Q3. How do you travel differently now than you did when you were younger?

A. I need more time now, longer connections, help across airports, my holiday, so my plan.

Q4. What advice would you give your younger self?

A. Learn about the world around you, study a language – no goofing off, stick with it. Travel whenever you can.

Q5. What place shifted your perspective and why?

A. Italy – because it was the first place I went to, and I got myself there and alone. I knew I had guts then.

Watch our Virtual Celebration with Joy Fox on March 8, 2024 

How the travel industry can keep up

Not only does Fox have a long list of future travel plans, she’s also a staunch advocate for change in the travel industry, particularly when it comes to older women.

“Even though we are not thought of as trail blazers, forging our own path, we are a bloody brave bunch of women, who are not prepared to stop living just because we are a certain age,” Fox says. “Our hearts are still young, even though we have a few wrinkles or life lines. Our motto is ‘JFDI’ (Just F__ing Do It)! We have to offer hope and encouragement and support to those who need it. We are a force to be reckoned with. We have seen so many changes in our lifetime.”

“It’s time the industry took more notice of the mature female solo traveller,” Fox says. “I have been shown respect because of my years when travelling, but it is usually other travellers who find it brave and inspiring that someone my age will travel alone. That respect has not often been shown by the industry.“

Joy Fox in Australia

Joy visiting Australia

Joy Fox in Japan

Joy amongst Geishas in Japan

Joy Fox in Venice

Joy in Venice

”The world really has not kept up with us,” she says. “We take good care of ourselves, look and feel vibrant and adventurous and attempt things just because. So why not use us to demonstrate how great life is. JourneyWoman does this — so could others.”

When it comes to how the media represents travellers, Fox thinks the travel industry has a responsibility to show women that the current stereotypes are wrong and out of date, particularly in photography and communications.

“To travel companies, I want to say – get with the program, it is us who are spending the money on travel, we deserve to be recognized and represented properly,” Fox says. “We are going to travel as long as we can. Use our not so perfect bodies, laugh lines and joie de vivre in your media coverage. It is discouraging to see so many young faces in glossy photographs.”

“I am still young inside – my actual age makes no difference – it is a social classification only, a number on a piece of paper,” she says. “I retired from a government job at 55, started a business and formed an association in my sixties, which is still going strong 26 years later.”

“I’ll never be too old to travel because…I don’t think I am.
– Joy Fox

More Stories to Inspire You

As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


  1. Wendy Millar - Kelowna

    Solo senior traveler myself
    First time Mexico for 9 months 1997. Leaving for my cruise through the Panama canal April 7th. Hope the money holds out. Never married or had children. My passion is seeing the world.

  2. Jules

    I am a 67 year old female from New Zealand. My late mother spent her life traveling to many different countries after my father passed away at 56 years of age. She has been to over 86 different places and made many friends of different cultures. Now that I am on my own and fancy free I am going to see as much of the world as I can…starting with Vietnam and Cambodia and maybe Spain and France…I realy enjoyed your article and hope to hear more from you about what other women are doing in there travels.

  3. Mari H

    I was not aware of your organization. I’m 66, retired and living in Mexico.
    I relocated right before covid so I’ve kind if been stuck, but now I’m ready to explore. This article is encouraging and motivating. Thank you.

  4. Céline Berthelot

    Hello all travellers,
    Do you know if Joy Fox has a blog, a facebook page or instagram ?
    What an inspiring women !

    Thank you !


We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

Disclaimer: We are so happy that you are checking out this page right now! We only recommend things that are suggested by our community, or through our own experience, that we believe will be helpful and practical for you. Some of our pages contain links, which means we’re part of an affiliate program for the product being mentioned. Should you decide to purchase a product using a link from on our site, JourneyWoman may earn a small commission from the retailer, which helps us maintain our beautiful website. JourneyWoman is an Amazon Associate and earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

We want to hear what you think about this article, and we welcome any updates or changes to improve it. You can comment below, or send an email to us at [email protected].

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *