“At the age of 50 I was in my first hostel in Lima. It blew me away when a group of people in my dorm just assumed I would be going out with them. They had chatted to me over breakfast, had seen me in the dorm and they just included me. I felt accepted for who I am without prejudices, also without someone by my side who made me feel I was worth nothing. My divorce three years ago was the main reason to go traveling. It was a hard decision to divorce my ex-husband, having two children then aged 17 and 19. But it was also an easy one; because I had been walking on eggshells for years and I now know my health was suffering from the stress of trying to hold the family together. I realized that my marriage had been one of emotional abuse. When I left my ex-husband, he went nuts. He would bang on my friends’ door, stamp around where I worked, and send completely inappropriate letters to friends. I had to avoid him, on police advice. Traveling to South America felt like a safer option than staying in the town we both lived in. That idea ended up in more than three years of solo backpacking in South America, South East Asia and Europe. I started off in South America and I was terrified of leaving alone. When we normally went on a holiday as a family, my ex-husband and I would always end up arguing at the airport. He would blame me saying I was neurotic and anxious about flying. So I believed I was. However, when I boarded the first flight of my big journey I came to realize it was never me. I was so incredibly calm and felt so euphoric at the realization. It meant that if it applied to flying, it could apply to everything. My ex-husband had created who I had to be, and I believed in that version of myself. But luckily traveling speeded up the process. I learnt how to think for myself and to solve problems. I learnt that I could cope when things went wrong. And as I said earlier, most importantly of all I found out that the people that I met along the way seemed to actually like me. So traveling made me begin to like myself. It feels like a massive weight has been lifted off me. I love to learn and I can go and experience so many new things now. And indeed, the sensible thing would have been to invest my divorce settlement in a property but that means a tie to a place – and I can be found – so it’s me and my backpack.”

This inspiring woman writes the blog Scarlet Jones Travels, check it out!

Categories: Europe