A Salute to Journeywoman Founder Evelyn Hannon – The First Travel Blogger
In April of this year, we lost a pioneer in women’s travel. Evelyn Hannon, the founder and editor of Journeywoman, passed away.
She was, by all accounts, a private person, and word spread slowly of the loss of this leader in women’s travel. There are many tributes to her work, but the one I found most touching was a tribute posted by her daughters.
Rewind a few decades, back to that time when I was a busy woman with a busy family and a demanding job – all of which I loved.
I also loved travel, but with minimal time, I – like many other women during the frenzied 90s – lived my travel adventures vicariously, feeding the bug with the writing of those who were out there making adventures happen.
Whether or not I was available to travel then, almost always there was a tour or group listed on Journeywoman that reached out and pulled me in. It was wonderful to know other women were out there, living that inquisitive travel life, and one day I might have more opportunity to join them.
My introduction to Journeywoman in the 1990s came in the form of a newsletter which arrived with the postman every so often. That newsletter was full of bits and pieces of information for women travelers, most particularly women who travel alone.
The Birth of the Travel Blog
An early convert to the Internet, sometime around 2004, Evelyn became known as not the first women’s travel blogger, though she was that too, but as the first travel blogger. Those periodic newsletter mailings, dropped in the mailbox outside my door in earlier years, now appeared in my email inbox.
Always current, I’m sure her stated mission changed a bit over time as well. Basically, I remember it as a mission to travel safely, travel well, and to connect female travelers around the world.
The topics in her newsletters and on her website consistently covered special areas of importance to women travelers: safety, travel tips, and specific interest areas.
Articles on what to look for when considering safety in lodging and transportation, how to locate hotels that paid particular attention to the security of women travelers, input from other women travelers, and their experiences and recommendations could frequently be found.
Sponsors and advertisers in Journeywoman never failed in providing a list of interesting tour companies that catered to women, sometimes of a particular age and sometimes not, although information on the website shares that the majority of their subscribers are from 50 to 70 years of age.
Evelyn’s newsletters provided information on specific types of tours, many operated by women. It gave those tour companies catering to women an outlet to promote their offerings and reach thousands of women subscribers.
Travel Tips for Women
Evelyn encouraged her readers to submit their travel suggestions – everything from traveling and finding the gems in specific neighborhoods of cities, where to find the most friendly bookstore and the tastiest bakery goods as well as locations of little-known open-air markets.
I recall submitting a couple of travel tips when I began independent travel and ran across a unique shop or market. I’m not sure if they were included in a newsletter, but the sharing of travel experiences among women travelers was important to Journeywoman’s readers.
Travel Solo (If You Choose)
Writers who frequently traveled solo wrote articles that covered mainstream interests while others were more esoteric or far off the beaten path.
During one of my travels I used a great hotel tip from Journeywoman about a 4-star hotel in the West End of London that offered a few single rooms for solo travelers. I booked one of those single rooms when I finished with a group tour ending in London and decided to stay for an extra day or two.
That single hotel room was indeed tiny but gave me the opportunity to stay in a wonderful hotel with a wonderful location at a fraction of a regular room rate.
The early work of Evelyn Hannon encouraged women travelers, cleared the path for many of today’s travel bloggers as well as for many of us who continue to enjoy travel adventures – big and small.
Journeywoman lives on through the efforts of those who knew Evelyn. I wish it well and will continue to follow.
What travel blogs do you follow? Were you (or are you) a Journeywoman subscriber? When did you first read the newsletter? Did it impact your desire to travel, or to read travel literature? Please share in the comments below.