I'm 89 and have always loved traveling. I've stayed in the fanciest hotels and also camped in the boonies.

  • Nancy Strong, 89, from Dallas, has visited no fewer than 92 countries worldwide.

  • She's been a travel agent for 50 years and says experiencing other cultures enriches your soul.

  • This month, Strong — who turns 90 in August — will fly to London for the 35th time in her life.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Nancy Strong. It has been edited for length and clarity.

When I did the math with my granddaughter, Jennifer, I was amazed to learn I'd visited 92 countries.

I've been to five continents and scores of capital cities. On June 15, I'm flying to London from my home in Dallas for the 35th time.

I've stayed in luxury hotels and camped in the boonies

My life has been a global adventure with too many memories to count. I've taken a donkey through the ancient ruins of Petra in Jordan, walked along The Great Wall of China, and ventured into the deepest jungles of Vietnam.

I've stayed in the best hotels and camped in the most basic settings. I've flown in economy, first class, and everything in between and met people living in remote villages in the Far East, even European palaces.

A woman standing outside a palace in Abu Dhabi
Strong in Abu Dhabi.Courtesy of Nancy Strong

My first visit abroad was to Canada with my parents at 11. The next was to accompany my financier husband on a business trip to Paris in 1966 at the age of 32.

But I only caught the travel bug after working for a travel agency in Dallas in the fall of 1974. I hand-delivered airline tickets to corporate offices for $2 an hour. But, after five months, I struck out on my own after my three male bosses said I had to make their coffee.

My travels mix business with pleasure

My agency — which is still going after nearly 50 years — catered to top business executives such as bankers and lawyers. I booked first-class tickets and five-star hotels. I didn't want to recommend anywhere I hadn't stayed myself. I'd get to know the general managers who went the extra mile for my guests.

The stamps on my passport took up all the pages. Over the years, I went to countries as large as Australia and as small as Lithuania. I sailed on the Great Barrier Reef, toured the Taj Mahal in India, and visited the Berlin Wall.

A woman beside a war memorial in Normandy
Strong visited the sites of the Normandy landings in France.Courtesy of Nancy Strong

One of my favorite continents is Africa. Once, on a safari in Kenya, we got a flat tire. But, lo and behold, a lion was feeding her cubs right next to the vehicle. The driver got out, and a man with a rifle stood sentry to protect us all. I never in my life saw anybody change a flat tire so fast.

I wish more people had the opportunity to travel

Many moments have taken my breath away. I've watched wildebeests migrate and monks pray in front of Buddha. I danced the tango in Argentina and drank wine in Tuscany.

Travel has taught me so much. It's opened my mind and rounded my character. I visited churches, synagogues, and temples. I saw people from different cultures and religions happily going about their lives. There would be world peace if everyone was able to travel and see how alike we are.

A woman standing outside a red telephone box in London.
Strong is about to visit London for the 35th time.Courtesy of Nancy Strong

I'm 90 in August. My husband, Asa — to whom I've been married for 70 years — is 94. I don't want to leave him for too long, but it's not slowing me down. In May, I went to Paris to see Taylor Swift with some family and friends. Jennifer and I are hoping to catch another of her concerts when we're in London this month.

I've always joked that I've been everywhere but Antarctica. But I've just been invited on a cruise to see the penguins. I don't enjoy cold weather. But I never say never.

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