Geraldine’s globe-trotting grandmother, Esther Paddon, has added published author to her already extensive list of accomplishments.
Mrs Paddon’s book, Exciting Eighties, will be launched in Geraldine on Tuesday, marking the culmination of a journey that began on her 79th birthday, when she realised her 80s were just around the corner.
Rather than accepting that as the beginning of a downward spiral, she decided instead to embrace it, and share some of her experiences travelling solo around the world, staying in hostels with other travellers a quarter of her age.
“I started travelling when I was about 70 . . . I do not like the cold, and I thought, I could go in the winter. I started off for a month. One year I was away for three and a-half months, but it’s usually two to three months.”
With her husband content to stay at home, Mrs Paddon goes alone, backpacking, taking planes, trains and buses, and walking her way around the world.
This year, she spent her 80th birthday in Italy with her younger sister.
“I have done the odd [organised] tour, as long as they’re not too long, because I feel really confined and can’t do my own thing.”
She says people are more inclined to engage with a solo traveller, rather than those travelling in pairs or a group, and hostels – especially mixed – are a great way to meet people.
“If you’re by yourself, and staying in a hotel, they take you to your room, and that’s it. In a hostel, everybody wants to know about you.
“This year when I was away, I had my photo taken because I was the oldest person who had ever stayed in this hostel. I get to be one of the young ones. They just accept you. They don’t worry about your age.”
While she has written travel articles in the past, she says the book is less about the travel, and more about the experience.
“It’s the people I met and what happened along the way – that’s the part I like.”
She finds being in a strange country on her own means she is less likely to become stressed about things going wrong.
“If you miss a bus or miss a train, you can get something the next day. If it’s only you, it doesn’t matter one iota.”