Interview: 77 Years Old and Still Vagabonding

Sallie Latch in Egypt

Sallie Latch in Egypt

One of the best parts of running this vagabonding blog is the opportunity to meet new and interesting people.

At least weekly I receive emails from female readers asking about how safe it is to travel alone, or asking my advice about where to travel as a woman.

I was wondering how to best answer these emails when Sallie popped up and I knew right away that I had to share her amazing story with everyone out there – she is an inspiration no matter who you are.

Sal is a 77-year-old woman traveling the world alone.

Starting at the age of 18, Sallie has been to 28 countries, many of which could be called “dangerous,” has been living in Mexico for the last five years, and has no plans to stop any time soon.  In fact, even after being diagnosed with Leukemia two and a half years ago, she is in the process of planning her next year-long adventure.

Sallie spent two years serving in the Peace Corps in Malaysia, lived in China for 3.5 years as a teacher, and worked in a Burmese refugee camp. She was in Israel-Palestine just weeks after a bombing and Nigeria in 1981 when according to her, there were “young soldiers with big guns and little food.”

I think I have a new hero.

Like many long term travelers have learned, Sallie believes in the Law of Attraction – that your outlook and confidence attract good things to happen while you are on the road.

How I would love to sit down and listen to some of this woman’s wisdom.  As is the case with most vagabonds, it’s hard to predict where she will be, so I had to settle with a remote interview instead.

If you are currently traveling, dreaming of vagabonding, or just want a dose of inspiration in your life to help exchange obstacles and excuses for dreams – read on!

Sal with some friends

Sal with some friends

Greg: How old were you when you started traveling and how long have you been out?

Sal: My first trip was when I was 18. I had been working, and saved enough money to fly from San Francisco to Miami.

Since then, I’ve been travelling off and on, between my work as a teacher, as well as family obligations, until now…and now I am 77 years old and planning my next year-long adventure.

Greg: So you are living in Mexico now?

Sal: I have been living in Mexico for the past five years.  It’s a very special place with  its mountain desert location, colonial architecture, and rich indigenous culture.  The weather is great as well.

I chose to build a little house in Mexico because of all of the above reasons, besides the fact that it’s not in the U.S., but close enough for easy, fast, return if I wish.  Also, the country itself has such a variety of nature’s gifts; beaches, mountains, deserts, a vast array of varying flora and fauna, and best of all, the people, who  are so warm and welcoming.

Greg: How many countries have you been to now?

Sal: I’ve been to 28 countries, lived in nine of them, from two months to 3.5  years each.

Greg: What are your favorites?

Sal: My favorite countries have to do with the people I’ve met and my involvement in the local communities.  For me, using that criteria, I found the Egyptians to be the most outgoing, friendly, receptive, humorous, and curious.

My two years in Peace Corps in Malayasia, of course were a special experience as well as my 3.5 years living in China and working as a teacher.  I can’t leave out my teacher-training experience at a Burmese refugee camp in Thailand, where I also was priviledged to paint some murals for the clinic.

Of course France and Italy, the Island of Stromboli stand out, as well as Greece, and  all of South East Asia.

Greg: Have you had any close calls in so many years of travel?

Sal: Perhaps Nigeria was the most difficult because when I was there in 1981, it was wall to wall with young soldiers with big guns and little food available.

I don’t remember having any close calls, except some rough airplane rides.  I didn’t even have any close calls when I was in Israel-Palestine just weeks after the bombing in Gaza stopped last February.

Greg: Do you go back to the same places?

Sal: I don’t return to the same places as a rule, except when I was living in Athens and had to go to Turkey every three months for visa reasons.  I think I’ve returned to Bangkok three times.  Hope to go again.

Greg: Any plans to “settle down”?

Sal: The phrase “settle down” has a strange feel for me.  I suppose, given what I am told about the realities of life, my body will perhaps try to slow me down, so I might be forced to stop travelling.  But, until then, I’m half out the door and on my way…..!

Greg: How do other travelers receive you on the road?

Sal: I have found that young people are often very receptive, open to friendship, sometimes seeking my “motherly” advice, and have even invited me to travel with them, join them in seeing sights, having meals together, and they have also accepted my invitations to do the same. It all feels very good.

Greg: How has traveling changed for you over the years?

Sal: In the past few years, I have found more “older” travellers and middle aged travellers  who’ve “dropped out” and have chosen to free themselves from the shackles imposed by “selling their labor.”  Also  there are  those who realize that life is more than just earning money to consume more and more needless goods.

Since I was diagnosed with leukemia 2.5 years ago, I have to be a bit smarter about where I travel to avoid ongoing epidemics that might exist and also I  take more rest stops, and  sit in cafes a little longer.

Greg: Do you always travel alone?

Sal: I prefer to travel alone because it gives me optimum freedom, I know it’s not for everyone. Some do better  going with a friend or in an arranged tour. Whatever feels best is best for  that person.

Greg: What one last bit of advice can you offer to travelers?

Sal: It’s necessary to go with a positive outlook, a sense of self confidence, proper preparation, and a feeling that there is no other thing you’d rather be doing.

The “self fullfilling” prophesy works here; “If you expect a good outcome, its likely to come.”  So don’t waste any time.   Get on with your dreams and onto the road NOW!

There you have it.  Words of motivation from a woman who, despite being diagnosed with Leukemia, stopped making excuses and continued to follow her dreams.

Sallie was excited about the opportunity to help inspire other female travelers and graciously offered her email for questions that people might have – drop her an email and wish her luck on her next journey!

You can contact Sallie here: slatch101@gmail.com.

Update 2012: Sallie is still on the road and has a new blog here: http://www.travelatanyage-101.blogspot.com/

Thanks Sal, I can’t wait to meet you on the road one day. 🙂

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Greg Rodgers

About Greg Rodgers

Living an unconventional life of vagabonding since 2006. Nothing beats the open road! Check out my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/vagabonding.travel.

23 Responses to “Interview: 77 Years Old and Still Vagabonding”



  1. An inspiration is our Sallie…she stayed with me in Donegal [Ireland] for a period. I am still full of admiration and love for her..Brendan xx

  2. What an inspiring interview! 🙂

  3. Sallie is a dear and loving friend of mine. We often meet at our favorite little restaurant here in town to share a laugh or two. Those who have had the honor of meeting her are blessed indeed. She is one in a million!!!

  4. What a wonderful interview. I am set on my world travels and this was just what I needed. I will definately contact Sallie! What a wonderful woman! Thank you so much!

  5. she is really inspiring, 77 years old and planning her next adventure, she is surely my hero too!

  6. Well, that’s very encouraging! I started serious travel at 54, and I’m now 62, so it looks like I still have a lot of years to go. Would love to run into Sallie on the road!

  7. That is so inspiring! She sounds like a wonderful woman with many great stories. I wish her many more years of wandering!

  8. Greg, been meaning to park a comment here forever. I am bowled over with this woman. My bday is looming, and had a moment of, “Dammit – I’m getting old!!!” Sal proves that age is mentality period. Love, love, loved this. You inspired me once again. 🙂

  9. One thing I noticed is that she is a slower traveler, living in countries for extended periods of time. It truly is worthwhile to go deep as opposed to seeing how many stamps you can get in your passport.

  10. jocelyne marchand March 9, 2010 at 21:23 pm

    I have just returned from 2 months in Spain, travelling alone. I am 57 years old. Everyone said to me you are so brave, I answered going into a dark cave where there might be sleeping tigers is brave, travelling alone not difficult – just do it . . .

  11. Sallie,

    Is a dear dear friend – she is amazing, charming, generous, and a breath of fresh air. How I wish I could be as brave as she.

    I love her so and miss her.

  12. I think the greatest testament to her vagabond lifestyle is how young she looks at 77! What a great spirit!

  13. WOW WOW WOW SO INSPIRING!!! You get what you give, right? Karma works both ways; give positivity, get positivity! thanks for sharing this with all of us. I’m tweeting this!

  14. Wow — so glad I stumbled upon this. What an inspiration! Sallie sounds like a pretty incredible and fearless woman. I definitely need some of her to rub off on me! Thanks for sharing this awesome interview.

  15. I am honored to say that I know Sallie well, and she is even more wonderful than she seems in his interview. I miss you Sallie!!

  16. I’m so moved by all the above comments. Brendan, even you saw this way over there in Ireland! And I haven’t heard from you for so long. I remember so well and will never forget your invitation to stay at your beautiful Donegal cottage with Jacqueline and that fabulous pasta dinner she made for us. And Sarah and Dawn, you both wrote too! God love ya.’ Then there is all you other wonderful people I’ve never met who took the time to write. Your kind remarks stay close in my heart. Thank you so much. I do hope my travel experiences will give you a big nudge to get on the road if that’s where you want to be or to do anything else that your beautiful heart desires. I’m cheering you on. Wouldn’t it be great to meet up some place? Maybe we should work on that. In the meantime, happy trails forever.

  17. After my decision to begin my travels at some point this year I began following ‘vagabondinglife’…I don’t live in America, but I don’t think that really matters..all I know is that I am so pleased that I did. The update has given me the opportunity to read this and it has been a delightful pleasure.
    Sallie, you are an inspiration, thank you and continue enjoying your travels.

  18. Hi Sallie, it was so good to hear you remembered Brendan and I in Donegal and the time we shared. Unfortunately Brendan died two years ago, We often talked about you and wished you good health and wealth in your travels…I still do. Lots of love, Jacqueline

  19. Dear Jacquiline:
    I’m so sorry to learn that Brendyn has left us. I hope he went peacefully. Please write me at slatch101@gmail.com
    Love, sallie

  20. I have a new hero too, this is inspiring!
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  21. Dear Jacqueline : I’d love to hear from you. I hope you are well and of good spirits.

    Much love and sweet memories,

    Sallie

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Recommended Reads, Week of February 14, 2010 | SoloFriendly.com - February 14, 2010

    […] Interview with Sallie Latch – a 77 year old vagabond – Many times, we postpone traveling for a variety of excuses, such as lack of money, poor health, age, etc.  This inspirational interview just goes to show that’s all they are: Excuses.  I want to be like Sallie when I grow up. […]

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