After a risky spine operation, the surgeon told him not to plan any travel. This is what happened when he decided to ignore her

(CNN) — About 18 months after she was injured in a horrific car accident in 2011 as she was preparing for risky spinal surgery that left her in constant pain, Pamela Holt made a promise to herself.

Not only will he be able to travel again in six months, but he will get to see 80 countries before he turns 50.

Holt, who was 30 at the time, had already visited about 55 countries, but the severity of his injuries had put his life and travels on hold.

Shortly after waking up from the operation, Holt, a California native, was so determined to take a solo trip to the Middle East that she asked her mother to call American Airlines to book air tickets for her.

The accident that changed his life

Television presenter Pamela Holt visits Petra, Jordan, six months after spinal surgery. (Courtesy of Pamela Holt)

“The surgeon thought I was crazy to book something six months in advance,” Holt told CNN Travel.

“He said, ‘There’s no way you can do that.’ “I said, ‘Yes, it’s possible.’ let’s make it happen.’ “So I have something to look forward to.”

“I think that positive attitude helped with the recovery. I was suffering for a year and a half and, to be honest, I was ready to throw myself off a cliff. It wasn’t worth living with that much pain.”

Fortunately, Holt was healthy enough to make that trip in July 2013, and she spent time in Petra, Jordan, which she describes as an “eye-opening experience.”

“I really enjoyed it in Jordan, because they were so excited and welcomed me as an American,” he says. “And I didn’t expect this.”

He explains that his travel habit began when he was a teenager, when he visited Hong Kong with his family and celebrated his birthday in the country.

“I think this is where I got bit by the travel bug,” he says. “I looked around and thought, ‘I want to live outside the bubble I grew up in.'”

At the age of 19, Holt made her first trip alone to Japan, where she stayed for several months.

“I traveled alone during the weekends,” he says, “and then about three or four years later I ended up living in Japan again.”

Holt, who was able to travel extensively while working as an actress, soon developed a strong passion for solo travel.

Traveling alone

Holt is the host of the television series “Me, Myself and the World: The Art of Solo Travel”, which reflects his passion for solo travel. (Courtesy of Pamela Holt)

“I traveled mostly for work,” he says, “but I always preferred solo travel.”

“I literally worked to travel.”

Of course, her life changed forever after the car accident that left her nearly immobile, and she was advised to get her affairs in order before surgery.

“To go through something so traumatic and life-changing, not only an accident, but then spinal surgery, is very scary,” he says.

“It forces you to stop and ask yourself, ‘Am I living the life I want to live?’ And I knew that traveling alone was my greatest joy before.”

“And after that it became the center point of my life.”

Once she returned from a trip to the Middle East, Holt was even more determined to reach her goal of visiting 80 countries before turning 50, and did most of the travel alone.

What is it about solo travel that appeals to Holt so much?

“I love the adrenaline, the freedom and the joy of traveling alone,” she says. “You meet new people wherever you go.”

“You test yourself. You build confidence. I look like a billboard for slow travel, but they’ve shaped me over the years.”

“And the more positive experiences I had as a solo traveler, the more I wanted to do it again.”

Holt explains that since she was alone for a long time, she often had no one to travel with.

And when I was able to travel with friends, they had different ideas about how to spend the holidays.

“Most of them wanted to shop and eat,” he explains. “And I wanted to explore myself and immerse myself in the story and literally walk across it and see something and get to the next corner.”

“I wanted to go beyond my comfort level.”

Holt is a big fan of escaping from one destination to another slow travel (In Spanish, travel slowly).

For destinations best suited for solo travelers, he recommends Thailand, Bali, and Vietnam.

“It’s a mecca for solo travelers,” he says. “I think it’s the best place for solo travelers looking for adventure.”

“But there’s also a good hub of resources for solo travelers. Accommodations. Tours. That kind of thing.”

Holt points to Italy as another great place for solo travelers in Europe.

become self-reliant

The second series of the show sees Holt explore the back streets of Hanoi, Vietnam and Bangkok, Thailand. (Courtesy of Pamela Holt)

He added, “The reason I like it so much is because there’s so much to do.” “And you can really, in the most positive way, get lost in Italy and get a taste of it.”

Before the accident, Holt was going to make his first Broadway tour, but then he had difficulty restarting his career.

“It took a long time to try to rebuild after the accident,” he says.

Ultimately he came up with a concept that combined his love of solo travel with his experience in show business: the television series “Me, Myself and the World: The Art of Solo Travel”, which Holt hosts and produces. .

The second season of the series, available on Amazon Freeway and GoTraveler, sees Holt explore the back roads of Hanoi, Vietnam and Bangkok, Thailand while meeting and talking to locals and other solo travelers.

Holt says she is often approached by first-time solo travelers, especially women, who want to travel but don’t dare.

He explains that he advises people to “start small” and take a day trip somewhere nearby, before preparing for a longer trip further afield.

“Get used to being self-reliant and comfortable with yourself,” he emphasizes. “There are people who never want to go out to dinner with themselves.”

“But if you keep doing it, you’ll build confidence and learn how amazing it is.”

Holt says that many older people view solo travelers as “a bunch of twenty-something backpackers, or a 40-year-old woman who was having a midlife crisis” and emphasizes that there are many different There are two types of single travelers.

“I’ve redefined solo travel as an acronym for ‘exploring life’s opportunities.’ That’s what solo travel is all about. You can still have someone’s partner or spouse.”

“You can be alone. You can be whatever you want. It’s about finding life’s opportunities for yourself.”

However, he cautions newcomers traveling alone to accept that, even if they meet wonderful people willing to help them along the way, they will be on their own at first and should always trust their instincts. .

He further added, “The biggest challenge is to believe in yourself.” “Trust your instincts. Pay attention to your instincts.”

“I find that too many solo travelers make the mistake of being nice and letting their instincts prevail when they should be paying attention first.”

“You can always be kind and polite. But pay attention to your gut and what it tells you about people and the environment.”

“If you get sick or lose your wallet. You’re alone. So you have to be flexible. If you weren’t flexible before, solo travel teaches you to be flexible.”

In the nearly 15 years between his spine surgery and his 50th birthday, Holt was able to keep the promise he made while he was in the hospital, and he spectacularly celebrated his 80th by flying to his home country of Bhutan. Decided to celebrate, it was a big day. August 2019.

“I wanted to do something epic,” he says. “Because, honestly, I didn’t want to be that poor 50-year-old woman who is looked down upon because she doesn’t have a partner. So I Happiness created itself. And I had a great time on my golden occasion, marriage.”

Although Holt is now married — she reunited with Brody, whom she met when she was 15, shortly after completing her “80 by 50” challenge and the couple married in 2022 — she plans to travel alone. Have continued and continue to feel the same happiness solo trips.

“He travels (for work) about one to five weeks a year,” she says, adding that her husband owns a business and also works as a volunteer golf coach. “So the last thing he wants to do is travel (again).”

“If we could travel internationally (together) a year, that’s great. But I’m happy traveling alone for a long time. And he’s happy to let me.”

Reflecting on that dire period after his accident, when the prospect of being able to go anywhere seemed almost unimaginable, Holt says he has a completely different outlook now.

“I really live life to the fullest,” he adds. “I take more risks in life. Travel is my foundation and keeps shaping me. Every time I travel, I “Understand people better.”

“It allows me to be more open to everything that happens in this world. Especially now, thanks to the global perspective I have a completely different perspective.”

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