Gwen Has Over 26 years Of Solo Travel Experience & Inspires Other 50+ Adventurers To Travel The World Alone
What is GAFFL?

GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

GAFFL
25th May | 11 min read

Table of Contents

    At GAFFL, we love to publish inspiring travel stories from adventurers around the world. You can connect with travelers from 170+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this post, we're featuring Gwen, a solo traveler who has been traveling the world for over 26 years.

    Gwen used to work as a Sustainability Strategist and Project Manager, but at the age of 50, she quit her job to launch CORR Concepts, a sustainability blog, and CORR Travel, a travel blog. Traveling is her favorite thing to do, and environmental sustainability is her "religion."

    She has been traveling alone for over 26 years and is still going strong at the age of 52. With her previous and current travel experience, she started CORR Travel to assist travelers over 50 who want to stay adventurous by traveling alone.

    Make sure to follow her on YouTube & Instagram to stay up to date on her latest adventures!

    Gwen volunteer diving Belize

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 170 countries to plan trips and travel together!
    Try GAFFL

    How I Started Traveling & Why I Continue To Do It

    Well, first, I’ve moved a lot in childhood and adulthood. I’ve lived in multiple locations within 8 states and am currently planning to move abroad. This lifestyle of new locations and meeting new people becomes habit-forming.

    Gwen Kayaking Noosa Australia

    But what really sparked my interest in international travel was my dad. He was an Investigator In Charge (IIC) for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigating airplane accidents around the world. He would come back from a new country with stories on culture, food, wine, etc. I was fascinated. I wanted to see it for myself. I begged him to take me with him (I was 10) on his investigations. Of course, that was not possible.

    I keep traveling because I could not imagine a life not going somewhere new.  In fact, it’s my ‘thing’ that I have to go to at least one new place a year, near or far. I can’t imagine being in one place all the time. How boring! I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m too old to travel. I perish the thought.

    Duration Of My Trips

    I don’t travel often enough. Throughout the many decades, I’ve had to grab travel where I could while working full-time jobs. My life has been, “Too many places, so little time and money.”

    Before blogging, I would go somewhere new at least once a year. Trips would typically be a week or less. Between jobs, however, I would carve out time for 7-8 week trips and pack them with as many locations as I could.

    Since blogging, I’m trying to travel more, but instead of fast travel, I’m transitioning into slower travel and hoping to explore one place for a longer period of time.

    How I Determine Where To Travel Next & How I Prepare
    I’ve always been inspired by watching movies. I’ll see a place and think, “Wow, I have to go there!”

    I also get inspired by online travel, environmental and volunteering sites, talking to people, and hearing travel stories on social media groups I belong to.

    Once I have a new travel idea, I put it in my massive Excel ‘bucket list’ spreadsheet that keeps track of my travel ideas, links, notes, etc. so I can pull them out and use them for my next trip. Yes, this means I use an Excel spreadsheet to prepare for my trips. I’m old school. I have a system that works for me.

    Gwen in Prague

    How I Pack For My Trips

    I always try to pack for carry-on only. I went to 7 European countries in 2021 all with 2 carry-on bags.

    As a Sustainability professional and earth steward, I advocate for reducing human impact on the environment so must-haves include a collapsible water bottle with filter, collapsible cup, compact reusable bags, and a bamboo utensil set.

    As a travel blogger, must-haves are photo and video equipment, iPad or laptop, solar-powered mobile charger, and any other items needed for CORR Travel’s blog and YouTube followers.

    Gwen at Kronborg Castle Helsingor Denmark

    Some Of My Most Memorable Adventures

    I’ve been to 46 U.S. states and 25 countries. Yep, visiting those last four U.S. states is on my bucket list.

    What I may consider ‘remarkable’, some may not. I suppose that’s a subjective term. However, some of the things that I remember most are: 

    • Meeting two of my best girlfriends (from New Zealand and Australia) in Portugal in 1995 with whom I still travel today;

    • Kayaking in Alaska with a sea lion;

    • Getting my picture taken with Dikembe Mutombo in the Brussels Airport on the last day of my 1995 Europe backpacking trip;

    • Seeing Michael Jordan on a golf course in the Bahamas (I’m a UNC fan);

    • Finding Nemo’ (twice) while diving the Great Barrier Reef;

    • Wine tasting in Italy, Austria, Croatia, Australia, and more (wine tasting around the world is part of my bucket list);

    • Gambling in the Monte Carlo Casino;

    • Marine and coral reef conservation volunteer diving in Belize; and

    • Seeing EPIC pieces of art that I’m amazed that still exist today, like “The Last Supper”, “The Madonna and Child”, and “The Ghent Altarpiece”

    Like I said previously, my Excel spreadsheet is full of bucket list locations and activities. There are simply too many to list. It would be a miracle if I get to them all before I die.

    Gwen kayaking Alaska

    Precautions I Take Before A Trip

    Oh, I practice the traditional safety measures, like checking embassy websites and news sites for information before international travel, and providing copies of my itineraries to family before I go, and so on.

    I Transitioned From Working Full-Time For Others To Working For Myself

    I didn’t ‘quit my job’, to start traveling full-time. I still don’t travel full-time yet.

    To get to that point, I’ve transitioned from working full-time for others to working for myself by way of my blogs. I also do some remote projects for others here and there
    Well, I’m a PMP-certified project manager with an MBA so it wasn’t hard to start my blogs.

    Unfortunately, COVID hit 8 months after I started my travel blog, so the hardest adjustment has been trying to get that off the ground when no one is traveling. Here’s hoping 2022 is much better for all in the travel industry. Nothing impacts my wanting to travel more. I have always wanted to travel.

    Gwen in Porto Portugal

    One Of My Most Thrilling Travel Experiences

    Oh, my goodness. Some are personal so I’m not sure readers will consider them ‘exciting’. Again, I think that may be a subjective term.

    A special travel experience was on my first kayaking trip. I did a solo 3-day weekend in Alaska and took a boating excursion that included a morning kayak.

    I completely lucked out on the weather – it had been raining for 30 days straight in Alaska and stopped the day before I arrived and resumed the night I left.

    The water was calm and the sky was blue without a cloud in the sky to block any visibility of the mountains. While kayaking, we saw sea otters, multiple bald eagles, and, most notably, a sea lion who was so curious about us, that he followed us for half of the kayak. It was remarkable. I did a great little 'Must Do in Alaska' video that's on the CORR Travel YouTube Channel

    The kayaking made such a memorable impression, I’ve since made it a point to kayak on all trips possible, as I did in Noosa, Australia in 2019, and Maui and Split, Croatia in 2021.  Kayaking is an ideal solo travel activity as it’s a great exercise, you get to be a part of nature, it’s eco-friendly, and a great way to meet people.

    Gwen in Pamplona

    Inspiration For Starting My Blog

    As I said, I used to be a Project Manager. One day at work, a co-worker was telling me he and a friend wanted to go to Italy (my favorite country) for the first time and we were sure what they could do in a short period of time.

    I started rattling off all of the ideas I had from my many previous times in Italy. He could see how excited I got as I was telling him about Italy.  In the end, he said, “You know, you should do this for a living.”  I said that I always got that same response from people when I talk about travel.

    It dawned on me, “Why don’t I do this for a living?”  I’ve always wanted Rick Steves’ job – he’s been my travel guru since 1994. Combine that with me being unhappy at my job, having an MBA, and having some savings in the bank, I took the leap.

    I quit that job and started CORR Travel, the travel blog to help those over 50 stay adventurous through solo travel with my travel guides and itineraries, travel tips, and eco-friendly and sustainable travel tips and product.

    Gwen in Rio de Janeiro

    My Favorite Memory Of Meeting New People & Exploring With Locals

    I met two women from New Zealand and Australia, in Portugal in 1995. We were all solo travelers at the time. We had so much fun together, 3 days turned into 6 days. They helped me celebrate my 26th birthday there in Portugal. I went on to Ireland afterward with one of them.

    Gwen in Lisbon Portugal

    Since then, we’ve still kept in touch by mailing letters and cards to now Zoom calls. One was able to be at my wedding in Virginia. They have come to see me here in the US on more than one occasion, and I met them in New Zealand and Australia. I also got to visit one in the UK when she was living there and one in Canada during her Canada trip. We still travel together when we can. In fact, we travel very well together. That’s hard to find. Our relationship has lasted almost 27 years. It’s very special.

    If it weren’t for being solo at the time, I never would have met them.

    How I Juggle My Personal Life, Work, & Travel

    I’m not married and have no children. It’s just me and my blog, so I basically get to do whatever I want when I want. The only major challenge is starting a business through COVID. Hopefully, travel life will go back to normal in 2022.

    How I Think GAFFL Benefits Solo Travelers

    Any opportunity to meet people while traveling is advantageous. If GAFFL can help people do that, then great! As I said, I’m pretty old school. I don’t really look for any ‘special’ apps to use on my trips.  I use the basic travel apps. I do, however, like to use sites like Viator to find activities or group excursions from time to time. I always find these great ways to meet people. I still have friends on Facebook from some of these group excursions I took while abroad.

    Advice For 50+ Solo Female Travelers Who Are Still Reluctant To Travel Alone

    Talk to me. Just  Like I tell others, I would say, first, trust in yourself. You made it this far in life, did you do it with someone always holding your hand? I doubt it.

    Second, start doing more things by yourself in your daily life, like dining out or going to the movies by yourself. Simple things. Then take a local trip by yourself and do those same things. Add something new, like a museum. Test the waters. Then just keep expanding your travel circumference. Like all things in life, it always starts with one step forward.

    Gwen in Copenhagen Denmark

    But don’t wait to do it. Being over 50, you know as well as I do that life goes by very quickly, and the older you get, the faster it goes.  It could pass you by if you’re not careful.

    Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Traveling

    I feel like I’ve been traveling my whole life, so I can’t think of anything I wished I had known when I ‘started’ traveling. When I started traveling on my own as a young adult, there was no internet. There were no mobile phones. You had to rely on travel guide books and word of mouth for great travel ideas and tips. These made you learn to plan well and be flexible at the same time. These lessons I still take with me today.


    Other cool stories worth checking out! 

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 170 countries to plan trips and travel together!
    Try GAFFL

    Comments

    Leave your comment here