Stories as told by you and curated by Amanda Burgess, Acting Editor, Journeywoman
In April 2019, Journeywoman founder Evelyn Hannon embarked on her biggest solo adventure into the unknown following a three-year battle with cancer. To you, her sisterhood of Journeywomen, she was more than the world’s first female travel blogger. More than a sage guide and trusted resource. She was more than we could encapsulate in a single tribute or an article penned by one person.
So to anchor our Inspiration issue, we asked you, our fellow Journeywomen, to share your Evy stories with us. We asked you to tell us the many ways that one inimitable woman and the journeys she took in her signature red boots have inspired you. And we were blown away by the outpouring of love, personal anecdotes, and touching stories you so generously shared. The images they formed brought this formidable woman winging back to her family in living colour – a gift of light in a dark time. Below, we’ve curated a sampling of those stories that illustrate Evelyn’s strengths and her many gifts to you – a community of women (and men) that she loved.
A woman ahead of her time, Evelyn Hannon was a trailblazer whose confidence and courage for solo travel inspired yours.
“Evelyn was an inspiration and trailblazer for women travelers. Over many years, I eagerly read every Journeywoman newsletter and learned so much about countries far and wide – about their culture, history – and street smarts from other women,” says Betty M.
“For those who aren’t familiar with the work of Journeywoman, it is no exaggeration to say that Evelyn didn’t just revolutionize the travel blogging industry – she created it. She was tireless, generous and so forward-thinking,” says Vanessa C. “I travelled with her to Istanbul and the crowds hanging around Topkapi Palace actually parted and there was a bit of mini-mayhem as word went through the different assorted groups and tourists that the Journeywoman was there. People kept coming up to her and telling her that they booked such and such guesthouse or hotel based on something she wrote and how much they loved it and they were in Istanbul because of her.”
“I discovered Journeywoman five years ago, and her travel tips encouraged and gave me the confidence to begin travelling overseas again,” says Virginia M. “After a very successful trip with my teenage sons, I’ve continued to travel and pass on many things I’ve learned to others.”
“I started reading Journeywoman in 1995 as a folded paper tabloid that was in the Women’s College Hospital Breast Cancer waiting room,” recalls Debbie R. “Two years later, I took my first solo vacation at the age of 38. She gave me that courage.”
“Evelyn was a travel warrior. Brave, smart, and kind,” says original follower and contributor Claudia E.
“Because I read Evelyn for many years, I was inspired to travel and be fearless travelling alone,” says Nancy B. “I am an 85-year-old widow. I still travel alone, find adventure in life everywhere, and felt she encouraged me.”
“Evelyn was a truly remarkable and generous lady with a kind soul who inspired so many women to take their courage in both hands and broaden their horizons. None of us will ever know how many people she touched and inspired,” says Fiona R.
“Journeywoman gave me the courage to travel more authentically. On IG, I followed Evelyn and we had a few comments back and forth about photography. Although I never knew her personally, I greatly admired her and her joie de vivre,” says Michelle H.
“There are a few posts I remember during the last few months of Evelyn’s life. I did not know that she was battling cancer at the time. When I read that Journeywoman would continue, I was struggling with a decision I made to move from the USA to France. That gave me the encouragement to carry on,” says Faith D.
“What an example she set for other women,” says Kristi S. “I’ve taken several solo travel trips overseas and found it empowering, just as Evelyn wished for all women who read her blog and interacted with her.”
She inspired not only travel adventures but also journeys of healing and self-discovery.
“Evelyn is, and always will be, missed. She was my original inspiration for the idea that yes, I could be a solo female traveler. That inspiration saved my life,” says Kirsten A. “Saved me from attempting suicide again. I’ve never told anyone that, but I hope that by keeping the brand going, it can have that same life-saving effect on other women in need as I was.”
“When my husband left me after 40 years of marriage, I was feeling old, lost, and alone. I went on a search for independent older women. Journeywoman’s example was so encouraging. Finding her was a big step forward in my healing,” says Laurie C.
“Evelyn, aka Journeywoman, was the catalyst for my solo travel,” says Carol E. “I first learned about this truly amazing and adventurous lady when reading an article about her on board an Air Canada flight in their magazine. I had just split up from my now ex-husband and this article inspired me to travel solo and just do it.”
She even inspired careers.
“The greatest gift Evelyn gave me was permission to be myself. Until 2010, my journalist career was on an upward and carefully planned progression. In a series of conversations, Evelyn got me to admit that what I really enjoyed was food writing. She encouraged me to create a new identity for myself — CulinaryWoman, the handle I use on Twitter and Facebook,” recalls Micki M in a tribute piece she wrote for Medium. “Without Evelyn, I might still be wishing that ‘I could have been’ the way women used to say, ‘If only I could go.’ While she was with us, she tapped so many women on the shoulder as their fairy travel godmothers and allowed them the confidence and the ability to go where they wanted life to take them. Let’s pay her back by encouraging others to fly. Or hike. Or take a train. Or drive. Just go, in Evelyn’s honour.”
“When I learned Evelyn Hannon had passed away, I was in Tibet, standing atop the 5,200-meter high Geu La Pass and gazing at Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. Evelyn would, no doubt, have been proud of me. She lived her life doing what she loved and encouraged so many of us to do the same. To this day, I believe that my blog might not even exist had she not been there to provide that initial boost,” reminisces Barbara W.
She was generous with her knowledge and time – a connector of people, places, and ideas.
“Evelyn gave me the courage to do what my heart so desperately longed to explore. The world. Having been around from almost the beginning, at 22 in 2000, not only did I cut the cord on a home telephone and shift to mobile but I took my first international excursion solo. I’ve never looked back,” says Ericka M. “Journeywoman has always been a safe place for me. Women from around the world with different backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs come together here for the community. Thank you for sharing her with me. She’s given my life so many rainbow moments. Her impact circles a globe.”
“The world is a magnificent place full of magnificent women. Evelyn put the two together and pushed us out the door,” says Dorie HK.
“She inspired me and supported me unknowingly 12 years ago when I traveled alone to the US. I’m from Brazil and I was looking for some female company in New York,” says Paula SB. “I met other incredible women through Journeywoman! I made real friends because of her. I am always thankful and I have always said to my friends that she was an inspiration!”
“I communicated with her in January 2018 and asked permission to paint from a photo she had taken on her travels in Greenland. She was so sweet to grant me permission. I sent her a photo of the painting,” recalls Teri GR.
“I was fortunate to have met Evelyn on my first-ever press trip. It was a trip to Belgium with travel bloggers from Europe, Canada, and the US to mark the centenary of World War I. Everyone on the trip adored her. Her travel stories were fascinating and she was completely full of fun and mischief. She even let us in on the secret to her brilliant portrait photos of people from all over the world – ‘ask them to think of someone they’ve kissed,'” recalls Fiona H.
“Several years ago, I saw a bit about a river trip she had taken in Russia where she named the ship. We were scheduled to take that very same trip on that same ship in several months,” Dianne A recalls, “I wrote to her immediately with a few questions about the trip. She didn’t just respond to my email with a stock response – she picked up the phone and called me. We had a lovely 25-minute talk. I was blown away by her generosity of time and spirit.”
“Several years ago, I traveled to Senegal to visit my son in the Peace Corps. He was not particularly helpful in helping me plan what I needed to bring. I reached out to your mother, and she responded by putting me in touch with a woman in Dakar who was so very helpful in planning my trip,” Peggy J reminisces.
“I lived in the same apartment building as Evelyn in 2004 and mentioned to her that I was leaving to teach in China for six months,” says Shirley S. “She was so enthusiastic and encouraging. What started as a six-month sojourn eventually turned into an 11-year worldwide adventure. Of course, Journeywoman was a constant companion and touchstone, which I gladly shared with other women I met along the way.”
She inspired you to collect mementos and purchase long-loved travel items.
“I miss Evy a lot and am reminded of her every time I take a bath as I use her animal print shower cap every time,” says Lynda G.
“I remember my first pair of black and white traveler’s slacks that I purchased as a result of Journeywoman’s emails. I am still taking them with me as I travel over 20 years later. They haven’t frayed, nor has the colour changed,” says Dr. Genevia G.
Embodied by Evelyn’s collection of scarves and the signature red glasses and boots so many of you mentioned, Journeywoman is a spirit.
That spirit lives on in this newsletter, the Journeywoman website, the team behind it, and all of you. With every journey we take, every tip we share, every article we write, we honour that spirit and continue Evelyn’s legacy.
As Pauline S notes: “I think the best tribute for anyone to give is to continue celebrating life and one’s independence in choosing a different, meandering path. And to laugh. And to dance. And to EAT TASTY FOOD. And to feel and wear vibrantly coloured fabrics (maybe buy a hat or two). And to share love generously.”
And in Linda V’s wise words: “Think of all the people she inspired and encouraged to take those first solo trips and their lives changed because of her. She lives in each; she’s that bit of ‘I can do this’ spirit!”