A woman travels the world solo after being in multiple car accidents

A woman travels the world solo after being in multiple car accidents

Pamela Holt, pictured here in Warsaw, Poland, is a solo traveler who has visited 80 countries by her 50th birthday.
Courtesy of Pamela Holt

  • Pamela Holt lost her entertainment career after two car accidents.
  • Before her surgery, she promised that she would visit 80 countries by the age of 50 if she lived.
  • More than two decades later, she did just that. Now she shares her experiences with the world.

Pamela Holt, then 36, was on her way to the final callback in her first-ever Broadway run when a car hit hers in 2005. She flew over her seatbelt, broke her arm, and hit her head so hard on the windshield that she The glass broke.

“I lost everything,” Holt, now 54, told Business Insider. “I went from doing 110 minutes of material a week to not knowing my best friend’s name.”

For the next 30 days, Holt lay asleep in the hospital. When she woke up, life revolved around remembering her loved ones and completing daily tasks due to a brain injury.

“If I showered and washed my hair, that was my big day,” she said.

Pamela Holt singing before her accident.
Courtesy of Pamela Holt

About five years after the accident, when Holt was starting to feel like herself again, she said, she was stopped in traffic when she was struck by a car traveling 40 mph, causing a spinal injury that required surgery.

“I hit rock bottom with this second incident,” Holt told BI. “I was finally able to get back on my feet. That’s what frustrated me.”

After a year and a half of researching the problem and having two MRIs, Holt said her doctor called her on a Thursday at 4pm in 2013 to tell her she would need surgery the next Monday.

“You have to spend the weekend getting your life together because there are no guarantees,” Holt recalls saying.

While Holt was shocked by the call, she said she had the “best weekend,” knowing it might be her last.

“All I wanted was to feel normal again and do what I love despite the pain,” she said.

That weekend, Holt wrote her will, went race car driving, and made future travel plans if she survived the surgery.

“I called American Airlines and said, ‘I want to take a trip to the Middle East in six months, but I don’t want to pay for it if I don’t live or can’t walk.’” BI said. “They said, ‘If you can say the word ‘yes’ when you wake up, we’ll press enter on your credit card.”

Need something to look forward to

Pamela Holt takes a photo in Mexico.
Courtesy of Pamela Holt

Without her health and career, Holt said she felt like she had nothing left.

“When they moved me there, the idea crossed my mind that I would be 80 by my 50th birthday,” Holt said. “I made it a priority in my life. It gave me a purpose.”

Holt had enjoyed traveling to 50 countries before his accident. So it had six years to lobby in 30 other countries.

After a successful surgery, Holt woke up to her mother who was already on the phone with American Airlines.

“are you ready?” Holt remembers her mother saying.

After booking the trip, Holt told her doctors she planned to carry a 40-pound backpack in just half a year. She said they gave her an injection before the trip to relieve residual pain.

“Six months later, I was touring the Middle East,” she told BI.

Keep the promise

Pamela Holt stands on Potocosi Peak overlooking Machu Picchu, Peru.
Courtesy of Pamela Holt

Holt’s 80 x 50 adventure began in the Middle East to see the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, a bucket list trip for the mostly recovering solo traveler.

“Walking that path through the rock and suddenly emerging to see the Treasury in Petra — that was worth every moment, even the pain I was still feeling,” Holt said.

Over the next decade, Holt planned her travels around the places she longed to explore. She spent her 40th birthday in South America to see Machu Picchu and thought: “If I’m already in Peru, what can I add to it?”

She ended up taking the Salkantay Trail and wandering deep into the Amazon as well as the Galapagos Islands.

Rome was one of her favorite destinations.

“It’s a traveler’s paradise because you have everything from the cuisine to the history, to the friendly people, to the constant discoveries,” Holt said. “You can go to Rome a hundred times and not see everything.”

In February 2020, I traveled to the Italian city without any agenda.

Pamela Holt in Vatican City, surrounded by Rome.
Courtesy of Pamela Holt

“I filled my days by going to all sorts of unusual experiences, like sitting in coffee shops, walking around the grocery store, talking to people,” Holt said.

When visiting hot spots like ruins, Holt explores at her own pace.

“Instead of being part of a tour group, I sat and absorbed the essence of these places that people have walked for thousands of years,” she said.

Some other notable destinations for Holt were Thailand, Vietnam and Iceland.

Success and sharing with other travelers

On the day she turned 50 in 2019, Holt arrived in her 80th country – Bhutan – where she explored lush forests and historical sites.

“Bhutan fascinated me because it is so scenic and untouched,” Holt said. “When I arrived, I saw Tiger’s Nest, which is a monastery built into the rocks. It baffled me that someone could literally build this monastery on a cliff in such a steep rock.”

Pamela Holt’s 50th birthday cake in Bhutan.
Courtesy of Pamela Holt

Since achieving her goal, Holt has traveled to 12 other countries and regions. In 2023, she began hosting “Me, Myself & The World: The Art of Solo Travel” on Amazon Prime and GoTraveler, where she shares her wisdom and experiences with fellow travelers.

“The spirit of travel was my saving grace when I had nothing, but my love has always been storytelling,” she said.

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