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Oct 28, 2021

5 min. read

A CAA Member finds strength and friendship in travel

Travelling solo doesn’t mean going it alone. When Jo-Anne Penston lost her husband after a years-long battle with cancer, she was uncertain about the future—but felt compelled to do something different. “I had been taking care of my husband for so long,” she says. “I just needed something for me.”

Having always yearned to travel more, she booked her first solo trip with CAA: a once-in-a-lifetime journey through Vietnam and Cambodia. “My daughter flipped out,” she laughs. “But I just jumped in with both feet.” Penston admits she was terrified at first, but her fears melted away after meeting the tour’s other solo travellers, many of whom had also lost a spouse.

She quickly bonded with one in particular, Carol. “It was like we’d known each other our whole lives.” Together, the pair enjoyed full-body massages (only $10 for two hours), starry evenings on a boat in Ha Long Bay, and mingling with the warm people of Cambodia. Penston now counts Carol as one of her closest friends.

And her wanderlust has only grown since that 2018 trip; she treasures the self-realization and empowerment that solo travel brings. “I’d been through so much in those years with my husband, but they helped me realize I can survive,” she explains. “Turns out, I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was.”

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