A woman who left ‘nearly immobilized’ in a car accident nearly two decades ago has reinvented herself as a travel content creator and TV host, visiting 92 countries to date – and counting.
Pamela Holt, 54, has forged an identity as a self-described solo traveler – imagining ‘solo’ as an acronym for ‘seeking out life’s opportunities.’
But opening her mind to the possibility of endless adventure only followed a cataclysmic upheaval in her life.
In her mid-30s, the SoCal native had been living in Los Angeles and working in the entertainment industry when a car accident led to a debilitating injury – and constant pain for the better part of two years.
Pamela Holt, 54, was horrifically injured in a car accident in her mid-30s – and vowed to visit 80 countries by the time she turned 50 years old if she ever recovered
Pamela ultimately made good on the promise to herself, touching down in Bhutan, her 80th country, on her 50th birthday
Though she’d thought the problem was in her legs, an MRI revealed that she’d actually injured her spine.
Next thing she knew, a spinal surgeon was on the phone her, asking incredulously, ‘Are you actually standing right now?’ Pamela recalled to DailyMail.com.
It was nearing the weekend, and he’d booked her for surgery the coming Monday. He also explicitly told her to get her affairs in order if things didn’t go as planned.
‘He literally said I had the weekend to get my life together,’ she recalled. ‘Write a will, call my mom. Arrange [for] if it didn’t go well, because it’s spinal surgery.’
It was then, facing the prospect of death or permanent disability, that she made what proved to be a lifechanging promise to herself.
‘After getting into a traumatic car accident in my mid-thirties that left me nearly immobilized, I made an “80 by 50” promise to myself,’ she told Fox News Digital.
Meaning that, by age 50, she aimed to make it to 80 countries total.
In the few days before the surgery, she even booked a ticket to the Middle East, asking the airline to hold the reservation for her until she survived the procedure.
Pamela once traveled for a half-day underground in exploring Vietnam’s Hang Va cave, an offshoot of the world’s largest natural limestone cave, Son Doong
Journeying in the Amazon, she once held a baby pygmy marmoset – the world’s smallest monkey species – in the palm of her hand
‘And in six months, I’m going backpacking in the Middle East,’ she said she pledged to herself.
Once she woke up from surgery – with the ability to move her legs – she called her mom, and told her to confirm her plane ticket to the Middle East. There, she fulfilled a longtime dream of seeing the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, which she described as ‘incredible.’
Years later, she made good on her ’80 by 50′ promise to herself, touching down in her 80th country, Bhutan, on her 50th birthday.
Since then, she has traveled to 12 more countries, taking her total to 92.
‘Not only has it expanded my worldview, it also helped me rediscover my confidence and feel empowered in my decision-making abilities,’ she told Fox News previously.
When she’s not exploring the world, she can often be found giving motivational speeches encouraging people, especially women, to not shy away from the prospect of solo travel – no matter their age, and regardless of their relationship status.
‘Okay, married couples… You have permission to go on separate trips and come back and share or even meet up halfway,’ she stressed.
‘It’s not about being alone. It’s about seeking life’s opportunities!’
Among her most ‘surreal’ memories was the time she embarked on a tour of a Hang Va cave in Vietnam, an offshoot of the world’s largest natural limestone cave, Son Doong. There, she traveled a half-day underground to reach one of its enormous main chambers.
‘You had to hold your breath, go underwater and pull yourself through things. So if you get stuck, you’re stuck. And then come out into these ginormous caves and the fact that somebody found it, and I was standing there, that was epic,’ she said.
Another time, near the city of Iquitos in Peru, she went on a four-hour ride on tiny, three-person boat down the Amazon to a floating market. There, she had the opportunity to hold an unforgettably adorably pygmy marmoset – the world’s smallest monkey species – in the palm of her hand.
Through her travels in Vietnam, Pamela once reunited a Vietnamese man with the American man who’d helped him when he was a four- or five-year-old boy living on the streets
All around, Pamela emphasized the importance of the friendships that have arisen in the course of her travels.
‘In my decades of travel, I’ve realized it is almost impossible to not meet new friends while traveling solo,’ she told Fox News Digital.
On rare occasions, for Pamela, this has meant taking up a pivotal role in a person’s life. One of her most wild connections came about on meeting the owner of a café in Vietnam, who, on realizing she was American, asked if he could have a word.
‘And he said, “I’m looking for a man in America. He helped me 30 years ago when I was a homeless boy after the Vietnam War,”‘ Pamela recalled.
In the scorched-earth aftermath of the war, an American expat, who was traveling with a group giving assistance to locals trying to rebuild their lives, ran into the boy, then four or five years old, living on a beach.
The man had paid for the boy’s relatives to let him back in the crowded family house, also giving money for food and education, and beyond that, regularly sent money to the group.
The boy was eventually kicked out of the house again after his mother died, and soon after, a flood ‘ruined the town,’ also destroying the American benefactor’s contact information.
‘But he never forgot his name,’ Pamela said. ‘And he’d always been looking for him.’
In awe of the story, Pamela told the coffee-shop owner, ‘”I don’t even know where to start with this, but I’ll try.”‘
She found a private investigator, who was able to come up with a lengthy list of names.
Then, she began calling them, one by one. It was the top of the pandemic.
‘People thought I was crazy. So I finally started saying, “Well, I’m a journalist. I’m looking for this guy.” And after probably three months, nobody ever returned my call, no one would take my call,’ she said.
One morning, both the investigator and the Vietnamese man had checked in with her – she’d had to report back that she’d had no luck.
But, that same day, she tried just one more number.
‘And I said, “Hi, my name is Pamela. I’m a journalist and a travel host.” And that’s all I got out of my mouth. And he’s like, “You have the beach boy?!”‘ she said.
‘And I couldn’t even speak for a second. I’m like, “What? Yes, I’ve been looking for you. I’ve been calling hundreds of names.” And he goes, “I’ve been looking for him.” So these two men got back together. I introduce them. This man is looking for this boy, he had no idea if [he] ever survived.’
‘And so I reunited them,’ Pamela concluded with pride.
At the same time, her solo travels have not been danger-free.
She’s been detained twice, once in Russia and once in Cuba, she explained on The Mark Thompson Show.
In Russia, she fell under suspicion for buying French fries for a group of women she’d befriended at a local watering hole.
‘They were really nice girls. I was actually sneaking some things in there like pillows and toilet paper for them and their family,’ she continued.
‘And one day, as a gift to me, they said, “We’re going to take you to some of the local spots.” And so we did, we headed out. And we saw a place that had French fries.
‘They didn’t eat French fries… that just wasn’t a possibility for them to afford that. So I bought everybody French fries. And some of the Russian police came by, and saw these girls, and realized, “What did they do to get the money to afford these French fries?”
‘So they’re literally throwing us up against the wall, put us in their car, talking to us. And the great thing is, the girl that I was friendly with, that knew English, she literally turned to me and she’s like, “Pretend you can’t talk and you can’t hear.”‘
‘It was the only way out of it, otherwise they would have realized I was an American. To get out of it, I bought them French fries,’ she added with a laugh.
Pamela’s adventures have not been without real moments of danger – having been detained by authorities in Russia and Cuba, and nearly kidnapped in Egypt
And in Cuba, she was stopped by a group of soldiers after sneaking a pair of eyeglasses to a hospital.
According to Pamela, she’d been told by ‘several people’ with political ties in Cuba about an orphanage that needed supplies.
‘I took that list and got some great items… in particular, eyeglasses. It’s a 10-year wait for eyeglasses in Cuba,’ she said.
‘So I brought them in, and I knew a woman that worked at a hospital, so I gave her the glasses.
‘Somehow, they found out that I had done that, and they were insisting that I tell them who she was, and where they were dropped off. And quite frankly, I knew they would probably kill her.’
So, Pamela refused to tell them the truth, and she was eventually released.
On another occasion, she was seemingly nearly kidnapped in Egypt.
While exploring near the pyramids, she recalled a moment when a man she was talking to, who looked like a security guard, grabbed her arm and started to drag her elsewhere.
Suddenly, a man who she judged to be ‘security or a tour guide’ saw her, and began running toward her, ‘yelling’ at her to run.
Pamela then said that that man and the man who’d been dragging her got into a knife fight as she ran away as fast as she could.
‘I get back on the camel I’d come in on. As I’m leaving, this team of horses come by.’
She then said that a boy riding on one of the horses, after asking her what was the matter, told her he went to Boston University, and paid his tuition by running ‘drugs, weapons and porn’ over his summers.
He then invited her to get off her camel and get on one of his horses, which she then rode to ‘safety.’
Pamela now hosts a self-produced travel show, titled Me, Myself and the World, which is available on Prime Video
On her self-produced travel show, Me, Myself, and the World, available on Prime Video, Pamela diligently catalogues the price points of her lodging, activities, and miscellaneous expenses.
From the start, she told DailyMail.com, she self-funded all of her adventures with money she’d saved up working ‘hundred-hour weeks’ through various projects in LA’s entertainment industry, working as a producer, actor, and occasional director.
‘I self financed every single solitary bit of this thing because I wanted to own it and be able to make my own decisions,’ she emphasized.
From before to after her accident, what was the most profound change she’d had in her mindset?
‘I was definitely different person,’ she said. ‘I was always joyful, always enjoyed life. And the accident, I went downhill fast, when you have that amount of pain for that long. For maybe a year and a half, two years, I didn’t sleep more than an hour at a time, because I would move and become in pain. My mindset before that was gregarious and joyful.
‘But my mindset after was compassionate. I think judgment left me in so many ways. I would always wonder like, “Why don’t they just do this? Why don’t they get up and just do this?” But I had to learn, we don’t know how somebody got somewhere. That switch went off.’