About us – Alison and Don

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In our sixties, (Don’s now seventy-one!) with apparently no other authentic option, my husband Don and I sold our car and apartment, sold or gave away all our stuff, and set off to discover the world. And ourselves. We started in Italy in 2011 and from there have travelled to Spain, India, Bali, Australia, Southeast Asia, Sweden, Mexico, South America, etc. – you can see the blog archive. We will continue travelling until it’s time to stop – if that time ever comes. So far it suits us very well. We are interested in how the world works, how life works, how the creation of experience works, how the mind works. As we travel and both “choose” our course, and at the same time just let it unfold, we discover the “mechanics” of life, the astounding creativity of life, and a continual need to return to trust and presence. Opening the heart, and acceptance of what is, as it is, are keystones for us both.

Interests: Alison – in no particular order: travel, figure skating (as a fan), blogging, photography, acceptance, authenticity, walking/hiking, joy, creativity, being human, adventure, presence, now. Don – the same except replace figure skating with Formula One motor racing.

To discover more go here

288 thoughts on “About us – Alison and Don”

  1. Respect Alison & Don! I wanna be like you when I grow up :D

  2. My wife and I feel that the time to do as you have done is not too far in the future. I’d love it if you looked at my “About” page and see what you think. Looking forward to new posts, Wes.

  3. Hi Alison and Don, just wanted to let you know that you both are a true inspiration to me and my boyfriend! Greetings from Belgium and happy travels, Tine

    • Hi Tine, thanks so much. I just went to look at your blog – I knew I’d seen it before, the name was so familiar! Thanks for your kind words, and for following our blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey, both inner and outer.
      Happy travels! Blessings, Alison

  4. Bec or Becca said:

    Fantastic! I’m currently in Bolivia and then back into Peru, followed (probably) by Ecuador and Colombia, and probably Mexico before I fly home to Australia from LA (in June). Perhaps we will cross paths. I’d like that.

    • We’re currently in Lima, fly to Iquitos for Amazon on 13th, on 23rd fly to Quito and will be there for a week, the Galapagos Mar3-10, then Cuenca Mar 11-24. So if you’d like to connect Quito and Cuenca would be the best times – if you’re gonna be there let us know, that would be great. Where in Oz? I was born in Melb, moved to Canberra when I was 11. Been living in Canada for about 30 yrs but still have family and friends in Canb and Melb. Cheers, Alison

  5. I have loved reading your blogs . My husband and I are 65 and ” turning “. 60 and planning on travelling and seeing what life brings us and where it will take us . Do you have a blog about basic things to take when travelling . We also will travel with small suitcases not back packs . Keep on writing as I do love reading every blog you write .

    • Hi Erica, nice to meet you, and thank you for following the blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey. This post has a list of what we c array though we’ve cut down on it a bit since then:

      http://alisonanddon.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/canberra-australia-part-1/

      re things like shampoo, toothpaste, sun block, mosquito repellent, etc – you can buy them wherever you go (though I can’t vouch for Africa except in the cities). We have headlamps that can be recharged on our computers eliminating the need for batteries – one of the best things we ever bought. We no longer carry mosquito nets as we found they were provided as necessary. We find antibacterial gel less bulky than hand wipes and have a very small bottle each that we refill from the bigger bottle, and that we always carry with us. I think we are the only people we know who carry a surge protector power bar. It began in India where the power is unreliable and we didn’t want to fry our computers. Still don’t so we use it everywhere. That’s all I can think of for now. If you have any more questions please just ask. Happy travels! Alison

  6. :) I want to grow up to be like you both!

  7. You both inspire me. I hope one day, me and my wife can share a similar beautiful, exciting journey. Thanks for sharing your amazing world.

  8. You guys make life beautiful!. never stop exploring… Love & Unity. Vonj

  9. Wow – love the way you guys are doing it!! Happy travels and we look forward to continue the journey with you through your posts!

    • Thanks so much. Well I guess we really jumped in at the deep end. It was an easy choice – have a home or have a life. We’ve been on the road for two and a half years now and it has changed us in ways we could never have imagined – for the good!
      Happy travels to you too. Cheers, Alison

  10. Thanks so much for visiting my blog! I appreciate it very much. :)

  11. you guys are so brave! wish I had your guts!!!! enjoy your travels..and thanks for dropping by my blog.

    • Hey thanks Martha, I enjoyed my visit – your blog has lots of good photos.
      As for being brave – well it came down to have a home or have a life so we decided we’d rather have a life. It was the best thing we ever did!

  12. What an inspiration, you two are! Can’t wait to follow your journeys! Thanks for the lovely comment and like on my blog also! Happy Travels! Cortneybre…

    http://cortneybre.com

  13. I found you through Nomadic Matt’s blog. I was interested to read the role that Artist’s Way had on your journey, because it has had a profound influence on me. Your perspective on trusting what is and what will be is a lesson I practice as well, among the other commonalities of spirit that we share.
    I have only just started reading your site and there is so much to explore and learn here, a journey, or many journeys, on its own.
    In particular, thank you so much for the thread on divesting preparatory to travel. I’m sorry, but I forgot where I saw it. That is indeed where I’m stuck, and yes, it seems daunting. However, I’ve decided that that and being a single older woman doesn’t have to stop me from smaller jaunts while I look forward to the Big One. Do you still have a home base in Vancouver for between trips? I wasn’t sure. When I clear everything out, I’m thinking of renting mine out while I try out the travelling life.
    Thank you for the encouragement and insight on not just being a tourist, or even a traveller, but a journeyer of the spirit. Would you be interested in writing a guest post for my http://www.ReImagineAging.org?

    • Hi Kate, nice to meet you. I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog, and getting some inspiration from it. I hope it spurs you on to The Big One, though it’s a great idea to rent your place out while you test the waters as a traveller. We’ve found, of course, that there was an adjustment and learning period once we began life on the road. It took us a while to internalize that home is wherever we happen to be. As for the divesting, it just takes commitment, and then it will get done no matter how daunting. You’ve written enough here for me to feel sure you’ll know exactly when the time is right to commit to it. It won’t make it easy necessarily, but it will make it happen. We would be delighted to write a guest post for the very excellent ReImagine Aging. Perhaps you’d like to send some suggestions as to the focus of it, or perhaps you have some questions or a theme we could base it on. Thanks for your kind words. Alison and Don

  14. Thank you for your response! One of my motivational reminders is, “If I had only a year to live, would I want to spend it sorting stuff or traveling?”

    As for the guest post, I’m a little torn. In general, my blog doesn’t focus on medical issues, but I do think that medical concerns, even if overblown, are a big impediment for older travelers. Your inspiration of not letting medical concerns be an excuse, combined with the practical how-tos of managing health setbacks would be encouraging regarding aging in general and traveling in particular. Of course, since you’re the guest, whatever you write would be most welcome!

    I think we need to be aware of the limitations we impose on ourselves as part of culture’s disregard of older people so that we can choose to reject those perceived weaknesses. And I think we need to be mindful of the realistic conditions that could lead to limitations. I’m thinking of the example of a young woman walking down a dark street. She doesn’t want to assume everyone she passes is there to do her harm, but she sure wants to keep her wits about her. Maybe wear flats instead of heels.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kate

  15. Vivek narain said:

    You remind me of Patricia Holm and Simon Templar,globe trotters and avid adventurers.

  16. I wish you both well. Happy travels! :)

  17. Mo Meeking said:

    Alison and Don, thank you for the inspiration; I am in the middle of emptying out my home in order to rent it and travel South America, New Zealand and Thailand/Cambodia/Laos. Just finishing the school year at the secondary school I work in then planning to fly off in September. I am a single 51 year old woman and will be travelling alone startng with a month in Banos, Ecuador, where I will take Spanish lessons (and hike volcanoes and such the like). It is refreshing to learn that intrepid travellers such as yourselves have not let age be a barrier. You inspire so many others. Bless you.

    Tell me Alison would you have felt safe travelling alone in the countries you have visited? I do not have sufficeint funds for 3* accomodations and would probably be looking at the ‘private room in hostels’ end of the market and maybe occasionally hostel dorms. I know the usual advice like being sensible and watching your stuff etc but just wanted a personal female point of view. If you were not travelling with Don could you see potential hazards that I may need to be aware of?

    Do you guys have children back home? The one regret I may have is missing my grown kids and grandkids. They are all very encouraging and are helping fund my trip but we are so close and will miss each other terribly. Any ideas how to soften the heartache?

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us all. I am so excited about my trip and look forward to the emotional, spiritual and physical journey I will take and the people I will meet. It is time for me to join the global community and learn about this wonderful world and the many people who make our journey through life worthwhile.
    Namaste.
    Mo

    ps. Have you noticed many yoga classes on your journey through SA?

    • Hi Mo, sorry I’ve taken so long to reply. We’ve been in transit, now in Cyprus.
      The only thing I can think of is don’t go off the beaten tourist path alone. We found everywhere that the tourist hot spots are well policed and there’s plenty of people around. I would think tourist hostels are safe, and good for finding dinner companions so you don’t have to walk home alone after dark. Our experience is if you’re sensible places are not nearly as dangerous as they’re made out to be. And now in complete contradiction: read the info online and take notice – don’t go off the beaten path in La Boca in Buenos Aires for example – we did and were warned back very quickly by a local. Walk down the populated streets, not the empty back streets, etc. I know when I did travel alone (in my 20′s and 30′s) I always hooked up with other people so I was rarely actually alone.

      I don’t have children, but I have sisters, nieces and nephews, and ‘greats’, both in Canada and Australia, and Don’s adult son and his wife and family live in Sweden. We both miss family, and yet know we are living the life we are meant to live.

      You’ll probably find yoga classes in any of the tourist hot spots – we didn’t go to Baños but it wouldn’t surprise me if there are classes there.

      Thanks for your kind words.
      Have a fabulous trip! Like many things the more you do it the easier it gets.
      Alison

      • Vivek narain said:

        Hi alison, though i am not an enthuastic trotter despite india being a mini universe,geographically as well as culturally,my idea of travel is to venture out in 300 km radius so that i make a round trip in a day by starting out early in the morning and coming back by 10 pm.However i have always imagined if you make a friend, in the city you intend to visit,beforehand via the internet or any other reliable method,your tour can be a cakewalk.Like if you visit lucknow again i can inform you about all the pitfalls and how to avoid them as well as tell you all the places to visit within a reasonable radius and the best lodging in 2 or 3 star range.Similar sentiments should prevail in most of the places on this planet,that is how i imagine things,but you still can’t be sure about a casual acquaintance,maybe you ought to have a gut instinct for that.

  18. Hey there – just tuned in and became your newest follower. I’ve been enjoying your travel writing. Come on over to http://www.thatssojacob.wordpress.com for a visit if you like, thanks! :)

    • Hi thatssojacob, nice to meet you, and thanks for following. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey. I love your blog – you have a great way of writing, very engaging.

  19. You are both an inspiration and sound as if you are having an incredible adventure! Looking forward to further stories.

    • Thank you so much. Yes, we’re definitely having an incredible adventure, though right now we’re in resting mode. I had a look at your blog – you’ve also had a few adventures I see. I’d love to get back to Africa one day.
      Happy travels, Alison

  20. Alison, Hello over there!
    Your comment upon my blog has made my day. I am rather envious of yourself and Don, travelling to all of the worlds unique places. One day I will take a cue from you two and pack up and go on a ramble somewhere awesome. Stay cool and shiny… Oh, and make sure you wear your suncream.

    I’ll be back to check in soon with you guys.
    Creative Writer Alex Kennedy.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed what I said. Go rambling – it will surprise you. And give you plenty to write about.
      We always wear our sunscreen :)
      but recently should have paid more attention to using mosquito repellent. We did at least escape the dreaded malaria.

  21. I’ve made my way through many of your Peru posts (I’ve spent a lot of time there myself) and look forward to reading your other entries to see what additional places on earth we have in common! Your photos are fantastic!

    • Isn’t Peru fabulous! As is your own blog. I had a quick visit and will definitely return.
      Thank you for your kind words re my photos. I try. I think your photos are brilliant.
      Alison

  22. Hello,Alsion and Don,

    I am an artist in San Diego, Ca. and am doing paintings of dancers. I ran across your images of Chinas Oaxaqueñas. I would like to use your image as resource and would like to ask your permission and if any fees. My e-mail is ccottoneart@aol.com and my art site is http://www.cottoneart.com . I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Carol Cottone-Kolthoff

    • I’m happy for you to paint from my photographs. I only ask that you give recognition if the painting is made public in any way by saying it is based on a photograph by Alison Armstrong, and a link to the blog. Thank you so much. It’s a lovely compliment.
      Cheers, Alison

  23. Hello there,
    Glad to know you, I will be around to know more about you both and your travel adventures.
    May Allah bless you and your loved ones,ameen

    • Hello Afsheen, nice to meet you. Thank you for visiting, and for following our blog. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey, both inner and outer. I visited your blog. It’s lovely! Your big heart shines through.
      Blessings, Alison

  24. Donna Wyatt said:

    Hi, Alison and Don.

    My husband and I are planning to backpack through Europe for a while next spring and I was excited to find your blog! I’m retiring in March, 2015 (I’ll be 70 in August and my husband will be 60) and folks give us somewhat odd looks when I describe our plans. It’s nice to know we’re not totally crazy. :-) Thanks for sharing your experiences and travel tips. I look forward to reading through everything you’ve posted. I’m sure we’ll find some beneficial words of wisdom for our adventure.

    • Hi Donna, nice to meet you. Well if you are crazy you are crazy in the *best* way!
      I began the blog some years before we became nomadic as a way to record our travels for family and friends. Since we became nomadic it has grown into a vehicle to record the inner journey as much as the outer. The outer journey has been spectacular in so many ways, and the inner journey has brought changes for the good that neither of us could have guessed beforehand. We have learned how very very blessed we are.
      I think your plans are fabulous.
      Cheers, Alison

    • Do you know what?

      We, the over 60’s and 70’s will be known as the generation that made things happen and all because we could look outside the box and dared ourselves to do what the couch potatoes do not entertain in case their cozy comfort would be jeapordised.

      The thrill of travel and interconnect with all sorts of humanity not only enriches life, it opens vistas to become a citizen of the world…to me, that is saying every human has a story to tell and if you do not stop to listen to them, the consequences are most unpleasant.

      So, Donna, treat the odd looks with laughter because they are essentially the looks of envy and a sign of unfulfilled desires. Secretly, it says ” my, only if I too could do this”.

      Don’t look back, just go. Take 2 pants, two blouses, roll them up in a towel, put it on your back and don’t be shy if you think you are not quite dressed for the occasion.
      You would be amazed…nobody would know.
      And Europe…oh, that is the easiest to travel in. If I were you, I would shop E-Bay and buy a car for $500.00 pounds in England and drive the hell out of it travelling every nook and cranny of Europe.
      I did on a Vespa when I was a student in the U.K….all the way to Turkey

      .

      • Thank you Mashoud, what a wonderful comment. I agree everyone has a story to tell, and that we are citizens of the world. The more we learn about all those citizens who are different from us the more we discover all the ways in which we are the same, the meeting point being the heart, smiles, a connection through the eyes that doesn’t need language. And it’s so true – nobody notices if you are not dressed for the occasion. I’ve attended many a local wedding in my travelling rags :)
        Namaste, Alison

  25. Hi Alison and Don, thanks for your kind email! Great you’ve seen the Netherlands! I go to school near Groningen :)
    I love your blog!

  26. Awesome stuff what you guys are doing for your age. Live to the fullest and explore till the end. Kudos :)

    • Thanks! Eh, age is only a number, though so many people just stop doing stuff because they believe old age has to slow you down. We don’t do what we did in our 20’s but there’s life in us yet :) Thanks for following.
      Off to explore your blog now. Cheers, Alison

  27. Hi Alison and Dom!

    Firstly, thank you ever so much for dropping by my blog and introducing yourselves.

    Secondly, What a fantastic blog you have here. It looks like you both lead a very colourful life. I can’t wait to read more about your adventures!

    Oh, and great pictures!!!

    Amanda :-)

  28. Hi Alison and Don!

    Thanks for giving a comment on my blog. Yeah, I enjoy your posts so much. Lookig forward to more stories from you. :)

  29. Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog. I love yours! Have you been to Colombia? There are some similarities with Ecuador but also a lot of differences. If you ever decide to come let me know, I can give you ideas of where to go and what to do.

    • Oh you’re welcome. And thank you. We didn’t make it to Colombia – South America is so huge, with so much to see we just ran out of time. Next time :)
      Alison

  30. Hi Alison

    We started a blog “http://greenglobaltrek.blogspot.com/” seven years ago when we moved from Chicago to Nicaragua, Central America. With the last of our boys finished with high school, we sold everything, and began the first chapter of our global trek. Our blog was created for our friends and family to keep up with our adventures and travels, (much like yours) and as a “diary” for ourselves.

    After starting a bamboo industry in Nicaragua, and having positive social and environmental impact (building eco bamboo houses for indigenous people in Northern Nicaragua) we were ready to move onto the next chapter.

    We have been (like yourselves) nomadic … for almost a year, in SE Asia (Viet Nam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and now Laos.)

    Enjoying reading your blog and noting areas of overlap and some synchronicities in our lives! My question to you is whether we shoukd “move” to wordpress from blogspot. Our readers think our blog is awesome, but we just don’t have much general public exposure. Any thoughts and or suggestions on this topic?

    Perhaps our lives will overlap or intersect at some point. I hope so.

    Saludos
    Peta

    • Hi Peta, nice to meet you. Your blog is fabulous. I’ve set it aside for a closer look.
      Yes move to WP – that’s where it all started to grow for me. Explore/comment on/follow other blogs on WP and soon you’ll have an audience. It’s a great community. The move was relatively easy. WP imported all my posts from blogspot. I did have to resize my photos. And of course there’s the WP learning curve but it was relatively easy.That’s about it I think.
      I’d love it if our lives intersected. What are your broad plans? We’re in Vancouver until end Nov, then South Pacific, then Mid Dec to Mid Jan Canberra, Australia, then NZ, then back to Oz for March then – this part might be useful – Indonesia and/or Philippines and/or Japan. It’s a bit vague atm but somewhere in that part of the world. Are you still in Laos (isn’t LP wonderful?!)?
      Happy travels, may we meet on the road.
      Alison

      • Thanks for the positive feedback Alice. Thanks too for the very helpful info re WP! I hope our blog doesn’t somehow vanish into an internet cloud or something when I do the switch. I am not great when it comes to technical stuff.

        Our plan is to stay in Laos, (Luang Prabang which is very lovely on many levels) for a while, so we can have the time to try to generate some income. We also like to stop and live in places we resonate with or love, before moving on. We could be here weeks or months, or… Who knows? I tend to get more “antsy” and eager to be in new places, whereas Ben likes settling into a neighborhood and community. It is always about finding the right balance.

        As far as where next when we do move on…I would love to spend time in Tibet, Nepal and Southern India ( we have only been to the North.) Also, more time in Indonesia would be great, as our time was cut short there a bit – due to some consulting work Ben had to get to, in Viet Nam. But really it is very much day to day, and constantly changing and or evolving. What month and where? That much I do not know…. Time will tell…It will all unfold on the blog.

        Don must be happy bring in Vancouver for so long. I have a nephew that lives there and he loves it, especially the summers. Enjoy!

        Saludos
        Peta

        • No need to worry – my original blogspot blog still exists in its entirety and is still getting page views. So the importing of it all into WP was a copy process.
          We’re loving being in Vancouver for a while though we’ve been spoiled for summers in the tropics. Maybe we’ll run into each other in Indonesia.
          Alison

  31. Thanks for visiting our blog. Stay blessed and healthy, Don and Alison. You both inspire me. :)

  32. Hi Alison and Don,
    Your stories are an inspiration to not let age or fear hold us back from seeing the world. We’re empty nester travelers in the process of downsizing and simplifying. It’s great to hear you’ve been able to deal with health issues as you travel as that’s something that is a concern for most of us.

    • Thanks Shelley. The past few weeks as Don and I have been dealing with both of us having to find a new family doctor (there’s a desperate shortage of family doctors in Vancouver) and with wanting to be checked over thoroughly for any bugs we may have picked up while travelling, plus dealing with some ageing issues, I’ve found myself saying that we got better health care in India than in Vancouver!
      Everything online we read said ‘don’t get sick/need medical care in Laos’, yet when I needed it we easily found a clinic with a visiting physician from Thailand who was totally competent and the medications I needed were available. Mind you we were in Luang Prabang, the biggest tourist mecca in the country. Thailand has great medical care, as does India and Mexico. In Mexico I needed a neurosurgeon (for a check up after hitting my head hard on concrete – fortunately I apparently have a hard head lol) and we saw one within half an hour and paid the grand sum of $60 (for a neurosurgeon!) which we then could have claimed back from BC Medical.
      We have ‘Medjet Assist’ for about US$500 per year which provides emergency medical evacuation to the hospital of your choice if you’re hospitalised for accident or illness. We buy extra health coverage when we’re in countries where the cost of medical services is huge (ie most 1st world countries) but don’t bother in 3rd world countries since for the most part good medical care is available at very low cost.
      We’ve learned the hard way that at our ages we cannot be cavalier about diet the way we were when we were twentysomething :)
      Alison

  33. It’s the same here in Calgary, Alison. We’ve been fortunate to have the same terrific doctor for thirty years, but most have to go to medi-centres now as so few doctors have a private practice. Our daughter has been living in S. Korea and has had to visit the hospital there on a few occasions, and her experience there has been very positive. No waiting in emergency for 8 hours like we’ve had to do here. We have good medical care in Canada once you get in, but it can be a wait!
    Thanks for sharing the info. I’ll have to check into Medjet Assist. That sounds like a good option for longer term travel vs. expensive complete coverage.
    Enjoy your time in beautiful Vancouver!
    Shelley

  34. Amazing you’re doing all this! This is really awesome. I’m also interesting in the mind and how culture shapes one’s life, so I’m glad I ran into your blog. Happy travels! :)

    • Thanks so much Cara. It continually amazes us how the mind works, how it can fool you, how we get trapped into believing it, and how intuition is so much a better guide for life. And different cultures continue to fascinate us – people are so extraordinary, and inventive, and kind.

  35. Hi Alison and Don!
    You are both such inspiring human beings! Your blog is Great and full of amazing pics. It’s so lovely to see two beautiful souls make their adventures happen😍. I wish you both happy travels and more magical days to come! And when I get older, I want to be as Cool as you both are!!
    Much love from Melb, AUS!!❤️❤️❤️🌟
    Jojo Roxas

    • Wow! Thanks Jojo. I was born in Melbourne, and lived there until I was 11 when my family moved to Canberra. In my early 30’s I emigrated to Canada.
      I think you’re probably already as Cool as we are :)
      Thanks for following. I hope you enjoy the stories of our journey
      Alison <3

  36. Katharine said:

    Very inspiring! Thank you :)

  37. Hi Alison and Don, I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. No pressure if you don’t want to participate. I am happy to just introduce your blog to my readers as well! If you would like to participate or read what I wrote about your site then follow this link: http://homeandspirit.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/very-inspiring-blogger-award/. Regards! Teresa

  38. shellysharon said:

    So inspiring and I’m so happy for you. The world is too beautiful to waste it in an office or doing things we don’t want to. My partner and I just returned from a 2.5 years of nomadic life in the East, where I had already few of these periods in my past. Now we are starting our own spiritual practices centre where traveling was as a fertilising of our inner ground. Living your life as a traveler is an art. Enjoy :)

    • Thanks Shelly. It sounds like you’ve been having some amazing adventures. I agree travel fuels a rich inner life. Good luck with your spiritual practices centre.
      Blessings, Alison

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