Skip to Main Content

Where Do You Go From Here? Inspiring New Directions After Travel

I recently wrote about how traveling with a group can result in lifelong friendships and further adventures. But I was amazed at the responses that poured in when I posted another question on the Road Scholar Facebook pages: 

“Wondering if someone has a good story about the aftermath of a Road Scholar trip. Did it inspire further journeys, creative pursuits, new friendships, changes in work schedule or direction or changing your life goals?” 

There were numerous Road Scholar alumni who wrote about how they made friends who became travel mates and dear friends for decades. One even found a husband on a trip to the Caucasus. But other people had wonderful stories to tell about how their lives changed after they returned. 


There were people who learned a craft or who began painting or playing (or building) a musical instrument. Several folks went on to study geology or archeology or history. Some moved towards better physical, spiritual and mental health, and others pulled up stakes and moved across the country or the world. 


Judy Ragland Armstrong wrote about her first Road Scholar program at the Land of Medicine Buddha, a women’s retreat in Santa Cruz County, CA:

“It was transformative. I was entering a phase of my life that was both physically and emotionally painful from arthritis problems that negatively impacted my lifestyle and relationships…Not only did I begin meditating, doing Qigong and reading books by the Dalai Lama at that retreat, but the advice and support of other women was wonderful. I developed a better outlook on life that led me to relish challenges, look for the lessons in my experiences, and find the adaptations that would take me to new, positive places (and people)... at almost 77, I’m now 20 percent of my old weight, have become a California certified naturalist, volunteer in two state parks and two county parks and have found my group among people for whom respecting nature is a moral virtue.”


Jean McMillan wrote about a mountain dulcimer class she took with Road Scholar that helped her during the Covid crisis:

“I took a weeklong mountain dulcimer class in West Virginia just before Covid. Three years later, I play on a regular basis for my own enjoyment. Planning a return next fall and hoping to improve my skills while joining other dulcimer and psaltery players… it was perfect timing for me, as when Covid came along music filled my time in a productive way.”


Betty Berry is an 85-year-old kayaker who wrote about new friendships and becoming a Volunteer Ambassador:

“I am 85 and just completed Kayaking North Florida’s Sacred Springs and Rivers in Gainesville, Florida. I have done five kayaking programs with Road Scholar. You're never too old to travel with them. I have made friends with four travelers; three in Maine and one each in New York state and Michigan. In September I will be doing a Road Scholar program in Vermont with the three friends from Maine.

I also became a Volunteer Ambassador, which means I talk to various groups about the many benefits of traveling with Road Scholar.”


Teachers love to be students, and numerous Road Scholar participants have been involved in the field of education. But one does not have to be a teacher to have a love of learning and a curiosity about the world and its cultures. Linda Norby taught for almost 30 years in the Chicago public school system and has shared with her students what she learned on her trips. As she writes:

“On my first Road Scholar trip, I explored Peru. I had received a grant for teachers, which paid for the entire trip. I was so impressed with Road Scholar and South America that I did another program to the Galápagos the following year, which I also used in my classroom. On that trip, a Chilean couple showed slides of Patagonia. I fell in love and went there with Road Scholar in 2014. I have now been to almost every country in South America, been on 11 domestic and international Road Scholar programs and have visited 37 countries total. That one grant and that first Road Scholar program enhanced my teaching and my life!”


Kerry Harwood is not a teacher, but her love of learning about other cultures has blossomed after her travels:

“My first international Road Scholar trip was to Mexico City. We also did a Road Scholar adventure to Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Following that, we traveled on our own to Arizona to see the other end of the Native American trade routes we had learned about in Central America.”


Travel may not only inspire deep dives into other cultures, they can also inspire someone like Teresa Wilkin to move to a different location:

“On a Road Scholar trip in December, 2014, I met a woman who told me about the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) where she was living. Two years later, I pulled up stakes in Texas and moved to Washington to live in that very CCRC, where I plan to live happily ever after.”


Gynnie Moody traveled with her ten-year-old granddaughter and seven-year-old grandson on a Road Scholar program seven years ago in Africa. She writes:

“When we returned, my 10-year-old granddaughter and I found textiles with images of animals that we saw on safari. We sewed a comforter using those images — and it is still on her bed seven years later. We still talk about the journey.”

Gynnie also credits travels to South America as a further impetus to study indigenous textiles. After one trip to Peru, she joined Weave a Real Peace (WARP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for textile artisans worldwide. Gynnie has helped to generate income and raise money for textile artisans around the world, as well as becoming a collector.


I was particularly interested in these questions because my own life moved in a different direction after my first Road Scholar adventure. I was laid off from my job of 25 years when I was 72 years old. I decided to book my first ever group trip (after having wandered solo most of my life). After I returned, I asked Road Scholar if I might post a blog about my experiences. For the three years since my article was posted, I’ve had a new career as a freelance travel writer and speaker. In this way, my journey was also life-changing.  

My experiences and those of other respondents made me realize that there are diverse ways of understanding the meaning of travel. There are those who go for pleasure and those who seek adventure or camaraderie. But for others, it is much more than that. There are those who have found deeper meanings in their lives, and their journeys have been springboards for change.

But most of all, I loved reading about the imagination, heart and stamina of these brave wayfarers. How inspiring that so many looked inward to discover what really ignited their passions and then moved outward — to explore new paths in a larger world.


Barbara Winard has earned degrees in English literature, journalism, and, later in life, gerontology. Although for the past 25 years she was a senior editor and writer of online encyclopedia articles for children. She began her solo travels in college, and after returning from a long trip to Asia, wandered off the street and was hired by the Asia Society in New York City to produce films and print materials for adults and children about Asian culture. She was also a producer and writer for New York City’s public television station, WNET/13. She lives in Historic New Castle, Delaware.