Hello. I'm Joyce E. Perrin, a Canadian woman and avid traveler. I’ve just turned 87 and published my book, Ants In My Pants, this year. Proof.

My background is in nursing and hospital administration. In my mid-50s, I started my solo travels by taking a healthcare job in Saudi Arabia. From there, I was invited to work for the World Health Organization, then the United Nations Development Program and the International Executive Service Corps. Over more than 20 years, these positions allowed me to indulge my sense of adventure and penchant for personal connection across seven continents.

I've gone white water rafting on the Nile, trekked through the jungles of Uganda to see the gorillas, lived with a Shona family in Zimbabwe, was circled by a tiger shark after exploring a wreck in the Red Sea, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro pushing 64, and made new friends wherever I went. I love sharing the stories of my adventures.

Ask me anything about places to visit, how to travel safely, how traveling changed my perspective on different cultures, writing a book in my 80s, or whatever strikes your fancy.

I'm new to Reddit, so my friend /u/nosecohn is typing the responses for me.

Book link on Amazon


EDIT: I'm signing off now, but thanks for the great questions. I enjoyed answering them.

Comments: 28 • Responses: 7  • Date: 

unkz7 karma

How was your experience as a western woman working in Saudi Arabia? Were you treated the same as local women, or were there accommodations made for the freedoms you would have typically had elsewhere?

JoyceEPerrin14 karma

This is a very interesting question and one I get asked frequently.

My experience out and about was the same as the locals, which meant that as long as I followed the rules and regulations, I was fine. I had to wear an abaya (a black robe worn over your clothes, floor length) and to cover my hair with a scarf. I was not to be out with a male other than a family member. Other than those rules, I was free to move about, to go to the markets, and eat at restaurants (as long as I was with another woman and in the designated women-only areas).

However, us single foreign women could socialize at the various embassies with other males, which isn't something the locals could do.

mushdaba7 karma

Where have you seen the most change over the course of your travels, for better or worse?

JoyceEPerrin12 karma

Thanks for this question. For the few places I've visited many years apart, the biggest changes were usually the result of war.

EvictYou5 karma

What was the most difficult customs to get through?

JoyceEPerrin18 karma

Oh, I've got a good one for that...

I was traveling from Zimbabwe to South Africa by local bus. We stopped at the border and I waited for my bag to be unloaded, but nobody moved a muscle. A local traveler who felt sorry for me explained that I had to go to the counter and pay an extra fee to the customs people and they would give me a slip for the driver to get my bag.

I had no choice, so I plunked down my cash. The man grabbed it up with no pretense of legality or procedure and gave me my slip. I got my bag and took the next bus.

When you arrive by air, none of this happens. There's no "special" tax or fee, which made me upset that only the lower income folks who travel by bus get hit with this extra cost.

omnichronos5 karma

Which place did you find the people the most friendly and which place the least friendly to tourists?

JoyceEPerrin11 karma

It isn't about the place. I've found that whatever I send out comes back to me.

People are friendly if you're friendly to them. You set the tone. It doesn't matter where you are.

SpaceElevatorMusic3 karma

Hello, and thanks for doing this AMA.

What would you say has been the most fulfilling or satisfying travel experience you have undertaken?

JoyceEPerrin11 karma

Thanks for the thoughtful question. It's hard to pick one most fulfilling experience out of decades of travel, but a couple to mind.

One was the time I lived with a family in Zimbabwe and undertook some of the duties women had to perform, like washing clothes in a cold river and cooking over a wood fire, because it really brought me back to the basics of what it takes just to live.

Another was teaching healthcare methods in various countries and learning several years later that those programs made a difference in the personal and professional lives of the people I taught.

canekicker3 karma

Can you speak to the commonalities between cultures that you've experienced during your travels? The world is a big place and it'd be nice to hear and be reminded of our shared humanity.

JoyceEPerrin13 karma

It's a great question.

Children about 2 years old, are similar across cultures, yet when they turn 3, their culture influences their unique differences. I found that very fascinating.

Also, a smile is a smile in any language, especially when you smile with your eyes.

everynameisalreadyta1 karma

Have you been to any Eastern European countries? What was it like?

JoyceEPerrin12 karma

Yes. I've been to Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Romania.

They were all interesting places in their own ways and the people were always up for discussing cultural differences. I loved sampling the unique regional foods.

I spent a month travelling east to west in Russia on trains with the locals, stopping to do homestays in various cities along the way. When I got to Moscow, I got lost on the subway and asked if anyone spoke English. Several people responded and I got to talking with one woman who asked if I liked hockey, which, being Canadian, is mandatory. She told me about a game that night, so I got a ticket and had a great time watching the game and sharing some vodka with the woman next to me.