A year and a half ago, Kennard found herself nearly 40 and going through the motions at a job she had been in for more than a decade. Throughout all that working time she took just one single solitary vacation. Instinctively, she knew that wasn’t the way to live. But practically, she didn’t know how to begin planning the trip she envisioned for herself.
“I really hadn’t traveled as much as I would have wanted to,” Kennard told Travel + Leisure. “And when I was realistic with myself, I realize I'd only taken one vacation that was more than a week and that was only because my sister was getting married in Europe. That's really sad. Ten years.”
Luckily, fate stepped in when a friend told her about a company called Flash Pack, which specializes in adventure tours for 30- and 40-something solo travelers around the globe (Trips starting at $1,500).
“One of the things that kind of held me back was the idea of traveling by myself for potentially months at a time,” she said. “I went home and looked [Flash Pack] up right away and was just really excited because I felt like they provided what I'd been looking for,” she said, “people my age who had the same adventuresome spirit as I did.”
So, she took a leap of faith and booked a trip. Only, it wasn’t a three-day weekend, a week-long journey, or even a month-long excursion. Instead, after assessing her personal savings and renting out her condo for extra income, Kennard booked herself on an adult gap year around the world.
First, she booked a trip with the company to Croatia. She loved it so much she booked another to Morocco. She loved that one so much that she booked another to Nepal, then India, and then a few more. In fact, on the day we talked, Kennard was packing her bags to go on her 11th trip with Flash Pack.
“It’s about the people,” she explained. “I have countless WhatsApp groups. Even from trips that were over a year ago. You really bond with people in a different way because you're experiencing new and cool things and you’re all in a similar place in life.”
Beyond making new friends, Kennard also fell in love with the idea of traveling solo around the globe without having to lift a finger for planning.
“You know it's going to be an awesome trip. You’re not the project manager, all you have to do is show up,” she said, noting it’s especially great to have the work done for you “when you're traveling somewhere and some of the places aren’t places that I really would have felt comfortable going by myself as a solo female traveler. Just the assurance that you know everything will be taking care of.”
For now, Kennard has no plans of coming home anytime soon. Instead, she’s itching to go out and learn even more. "The biggest gifts travel has definitely given me is a larger perspective on the world, a different perspective. There's just good people everywhere and it really restored my faith in humanity."