Love the notion of lifelong travel? If you needed any further inspiration to get out and see the world, let this be it.

A 74-year-old woman has recalled how she turned down a string of men and at least one marriage proposal to spend her life on the road.

Carmel Murray from Dublin now has difficulty walking, but that hasn’t stopped her from adventuring the world – from the Brazilian city of Curitiba to the frenetic streets of Kochi, southern India, and beyond.

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Carmel developed itchy feet early on, and turned down an engagement aged just 24 in order to pursue her true passion. She told the man in question to ask again when she was 30, but he’d moved on by then – not that Carmel particularly minded.

“I never married. I never had time I’d say,” the intrepid pensioner tells

“I had loads of boyfriends but it never bothered me. I find it a little bit claustrophobic to be honest. You’d have to ask for permission, it would have cramped my style, it’s a grand institution for some people, so good luck to them.”

The retired civil servant recently underwent a rite of passage for many a traveller: crossing her first road in India.

“It has the maddest drivers that I ever encountered, no pedestrian crossings and no traffic lights only at a few major crossings so it was very difficult to cross the road,” she says.

“Bus drivers, TucTuc drivers, motor cyclists, all challenge each other for space on the road while travelling at high speed. They bully their way forward, skirting each other within inches and continuously beeping their horns.”

But, says Carmel, in the spirit of true backpackers, “after a few days in the city, I accepted all this madness as normal”.

Read more: Why spending time alone makes us happy

Carmel is already planning her next getaway to Beijing and Shanghai, while also mulling over the prospect of a Siberian train adventure. She likes to plan each detail of her escapes herself, staying at local places.

“I like to get to know the people,” she says. “I wouldn’t be bothered with five-star hotels.”

“I find when you’re on your own you talk to a lot of people. If you’re with a friend you tend to stay with the friend,” she adds.

lifelong travel

Like all of us wanderlusters, cash is the only real issue that holds Carmel back:

“I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been to North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. It’s the money that stops me,” she says. “If I won the Lotto I’d never set foot in Ireland.”

Despite the challenges, the septuagenarian is determined to continue adding to her colourful repertoire of travel experiences: “To travel is to live – so as long as I am able, I intend to do that,” she says.

Photos: Shutterstock


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