For many ‘backpacking’ is a luxury reserved for youngsters, but they are wrong. Meet Geraldine, the granny backpacking solo around the world at the age of 72 and loving it. She has been on an around the world adventure for the last seven years, and shows no sign of hanging up her backpack and passport any time soon.
Geraldine has visited 50 countries so far, and left her hometown of Essex behind after retiring from her 30 year career running a hair salon. Her website’s tagline proclaims. “I will not sit at home and gather dust,”.
The mum of three stays in hostels in order to keep within her budget ( she is travelling on a pension). While she admits it can take its toll sometimes, she also states it keeps her feeling young and more alive than ever.
She told Lonely Planet the secrets to staying fit and healthy enough to pursue her dreams with the energy of a teenager not an OAP, “I’m firmly convinced that fitness is in the mind,” she says. “I always tell my body that it can do it! I have a very healthy diet with lots of delicious veg, salad and tropical fruits. I hardly ever drink alcohol because I don’t like it, and I gave up smoking a thousand years ago.
When asked what countries particularly captured her heart she confessed, “Japan made an incredible impression on me for several reasons, I honestly have never seen such a clean country, and the people were so polite, respectful and kind. The food is just delicious, and I’m not only referring to sushi, as everything edible, even down to a simple potato, is a banquet.”
She also recommended Myanmar as it is still so un-spoilt, India as it puts the traveller face-to-face with the poverty that some people live in and finally Australia for their sense of humour and the beautiful Fraser Island.
Geraldine finished off by offering her advice to the maturer adult who may have a burning desire to globe trot but are afraid to take that leap of faith. She claims it’s “very simple… Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love, and more importantly, be kind to others even if you don’t like them.”
We’re off to the airport!