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The Family Vacation

Expert solo traveller Evelyn Hannon prepares for a bus tour through Britain with her daughter and grandkids.

Evelyn Hannon and family

At 43, Evelyn Hannon surprised herself by spending over a month alone in Europe (and liking it). Several trips around the world later, she’s become an expert on solo travel and the editor of a digital newsletter (, connecting women travellers around the globe. This month she breaks her solo credo by taking off for a 10-day bus tour through Britain with her daughter, former MuchMusic VJ Erica Ehm, and her two grandkids, Joshua and Jessie.

Scrunch, roll, fold or stuff?
I pack flat. I want to look presentable, but I don’t worry about stuff being creased.

What do you love about discovering new cities?
Everyone knows where the Eiffel Tower is, but when I’m in Paris I want to know where little French girls go to buy books – and where that family is going swimming on a Sunday afternoon.

What do you love about travelling on your own?
I need to be free to just meander. It’s the best therapy in the world – you go off and all the white noise stops.

Any tips for meeting – or not meeting – people?
If I don’t want to be disturbed, I take the front section of a Chinese newspaper with me and pretend I’m reading it. Likewise, when I’m in a café in Paris, I put the front section of the Globe and Mail on my table. It’s amazing what happens – someone always pops by.   

What’s in Evelyn’s carry-on?

What’s in Evelyn’s carry-on?

01 Bandana
There’s an article on my website that has 40 uses for the bandana: as a placemat on the airplane, camera lens cleaner or pillow cover. There’s a gazillion uses for it.

02 Tiny Pill Box
Includes pills to settle the stomach, probiotics to keep flora balanced, Tylenol for headaches, Benadryl in case of allergic reactions.

03 Wrap
I roll up this shawl, which doubles as a blanket, to save space.

04 Socks
I only use them on planes or in the hotel. It tends to be cooler in the airplane, especially overnight, so I like to have my feet covered.

05 Wallets
The red one has my North American money and extra British pounds; once I’ve gone through customs, it goes into my backpack. The black one, which is very thin and has cash and credit cards, goes into my purse.

06 Lapel Pins
Olivia Chow is my Member of Parliament. She gave us 50 of these Canadian-flag lapel pins. I’ll keep some in my purse in case the kids want to give them out.

07 Tea
I like to drink decaf, which I find a little harder to come by, so I bring my own.

08 Empty Bottle with Money
I always hide some money in an empty vitamin bottle. Thieves are not interested in your vitamins.

09 Kids’ Gifts
I’ve got a few so they’ll have something to look forward to and something to do on the plane.

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