Travel adventure inspires seniors

Bundamba resident Judy Driscoll (left) with author of a new book Backpacking to Freedom, Maggie Counihan, at the Ipswich Library.
Bundamba resident Judy Driscoll (left) with author of a new book Backpacking to Freedom, Maggie Counihan, at the Ipswich Library. Sarah Harvey

PACKING your bags on a whim to begin a worldwide adventure is a daunting prospect for anyone - let alone being 60 years old.

This is exactly what Maggie Counihan did, and after a decade of living on the road, she proved age is no restriction to the backpacker life.

The Sunshine Coast resident recalled some of her fondest and challenging memories from trips across India and south-east Asia in her book Backpacking to Freedom: Solo at Sixty.

She spoke to Ipswich senior citizens on Friday, giving them an insight on what to expect in their own travel adventures.

Ms Counihan learnt some tough lessons while travelling, including fending off an attacker during her time in Thailand.

"I had a man in my room and I woke up and I realised I hadn't shut the windows. Then I quickly felt something touch my arm," she said.

"I came to and screamed 'what are you doing!' and I ran and chased him out. If you ever get in any trouble use your voice."

Ms Counihan managed to avoid any serious illness while travelling, but understood getting sick is a major concern of most seniors who want to travel.

"I say keep it positive. I don't expect to get sick but I look after myself. I eat the right thing and do exercises. We have to be extra fit when you travel."

Her story has inspired many senior citizens to fulfil their own travel ambitions.

"They write to me and they have heard me talk and know they are going to do their own thing. It's changed their life in their own way," she said.

The book details how Ms Counihan survived a six-day train trip from Beijing to Moscow, worked as a masseuse in Cambodia, ran a summer school in China and was robbed in Mexico.

Along the way Ms Counihan discovers humour, self-reliance and courage are essential and the ability to sleep standing up goes a long way.

She describes travelling solo as one of the most liberating experiences a person can ever have.

Ms Counihan's book is available for purchase at



Seniors Week Variety Day, today from 10am to 1pm at Ipswich Showgrounds.

Seniors free cinema day this Friday at Event Cinemas, Ipswich Mall.

Cyber Surfing for Seniors, Humanities Building on August 30.

Topics:  seniors seniors week travel travelling

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