Gloria Goodwin, Accidental Entrepreneur

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Gloria Goodwin became an entrepreneur almost by accident; here’s her unexpected entrepreneurial odyssey, in a 47 year career in travel…with no plans to retire.

Although her business was quiet during the Covid shut down, she found a silver lining: Senior Planet’s morning exercise class. “I rarely miss it!” she says.

Now with travel restrictions loosening up, Goodwin is getting calls from long time clients who want to book Goodwin’s favorite kind of tour: Cultural group travel.

Accidental Entrepreneur

Like many entrepreneurs, Goodwin never began with the idea of owning her own travel agency. After a 20 year career with Western Union, and a spur of the moment trip to Spain, Goodwin spotted an ad for an NYU travel course.


The contacts she made through the course netted her an entry level job at a travel agency only five blocks from her home.  Goodwin was soon creating travel itineraries for the agency’s clients.

Then came the bombshell: the agency owner, who wanted to relocate out of state,  asked Goodwin if she would like to buy his agency. She was flabbergasted. “I told him that I had neither the experience nor the money,” she says.

The owner was unfazed. “You’re a smart lady,” he said. “Soon enough you’ll have the experience you need.”

And the buy-out money?  The owner remained unfazed. He agreed to let Goodwin sign a series of promissory notes. With their agreement in place, the pair went to an attorney to sign the transfer ownership papers. On April 12, 1975, Gloria Goodwin became the owner of her own travel agency.

There were ups and downs, of course, but Goodwin feels the business was her destiny.  “Whatever I needed, again and again it suddenly appeared,” she marvels.

Eventually Goodwin was asked by Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, a commercial client, to teach a travel course for its non-academic Program. As an Adjunct Professor of Travel and Tourism, Goodwin designed and taught Travel and Tourism I and II for eight years until 9/11 when the courses were canceled.

Changes in Travel Trends

Goodwin moved her business to her home after operating a storefront for 30 years.Now, after being dormant for two years, interest in travel is stirring. “I’m reviving my business,” Goodwin reports. It delights  Goodwin, who has NO intention or interest in retiring. (“I’ll go down with the ship!” she says.)

Goodwin’s major focus is creating cultural group tours to Africa.“That’s where my ancestors and many of my clients’ ancestors come from,” she says.

Her cultural tour to Egypt is already in the works. (“Most don’t realize that the Nile begins in Uganda,” she notes). Scheduled for 2023, details will be finalized once the airlines set their fares. Also on the docket is a cultural tour to Senegal planned for the opening of the country’s new museum, Bët-bi.

There are also short “get-away” group trips planned, including a “little spa” visit to nearby Crystal Springs, New Jersey and other locales.  Another possibility: Developing a possible online travel course.

Thanks, Senior Planet! 

And with all that, Goodwin remains an active Senior Planet Supporter. “I donated $100 right after my first exercise class; I’ve donated $100 every year since,” she says. “It’s a wonderful resource!”

Wanna Travel? Tips from an Expert

In the meantime, she offers these tips for anyone considering a trip:

  1. Always buy travel insurance. Especially today with so many delayed and canceled flights and other unexpected events, many things can go wrong. Protect yourself with travel insurance.
  2. Always fly direct.  Instead of changing planes (usually to save money), and unless you have no other choice, it’s best to fly direct. Airlines are no longer as accommodating as they once were when flights are missed.
  3. Use an experienced travel agent. This is one area in which you don’t know what you don’t know! While the Internet is fine for booking simple point-to-point travel, a bona fide travel agency doesn’t cost much more and, more important, can create a better travel experience. Agents have knowledge that travelers need to travel unencumbered.

Are Your Digital Skills Ready to explore Entrepreneurship?

Want to get even more digitally savvy? Senior Planet is proud to work with AARP Foundation on the Digital Skills Ready@50+™ program, made possible through a generous grant from The resources  are focused on digital essentials to help older adults find and secure jobs, change careers, or explore entrepreneurship. Visit here to learn more and register  – registration is required.

Nona Aguilar is an award-winning writer of numerous magazine articles and two books. She has also edited four specialty business newsletter publications. Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Family Circle and Cosmopolitan, and in The Business Owner.

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