Transat Vacationer, Kate McKenna of Transat Holidays: the trip of a lifetime [INTERVIEW]

In the first installment of our interview series, we talk to Kate McKenna, the Transat Vacationer of Transat Holidays. As the Transat Vacationer, she has the dream job every avid traveler can only dream of – traveling, seeing inspiration around every corner and telling the world all about it. We caught up with her in the middle of her trip itinerary and between exciting destinations. If you have any questions about her travel adventures leave them in the comments below.

Name: Kate McKenna

Age: 23

Occupation: On-Line Host, Transat Vacationer of Transat Holidays

Follow Kate along her travel journey here!

Where are you writing this from?

Funnily enough, I’m writing this from my kitchen table at home in Oakville, just outside of Toronto. I got home yesterday and I’m headed out again in a week and half- to Mexico this time.

As the Transat Vacationer what are your responsibilities? What does an average day look like for you?

An average day for me starts around 7:30 with breakfast, where I usually spend time checking out my itinerary for that day and sorting out the tickets I need, the maps I need, the equipment I need, etc. After that I’m off exploring or touring or going on an excursion, whatever the case may be, filming it all. Then I usually return to the hotel, drop my stuff and leave for a late dinner. After dinner, I come back to the hotel, sort through my footage, edit it, and write a corresponding blog before posting it all on the website. It’s a very, very busy day but it’s the best possible kind of busy. I get to do some pretty amazing stuff.

As far as responsibilities go, my job is to capture what I’m experiencing and present it to viewers through written blogs, video blogs and photographs. In a nutshell, I want to create content that makes others feel like they’re along for the ride with me.

What kind of info do you provide travelers following your journey?

I try to provide concrete info and more emotional info, if that makes sense. Basically I always want travelers following me to know where I am- what city, what restaurant, what hotel, what attraction, etc. but I also want them to know how I’m feeling about it. Do I like what I’m eating? Do I look like I’m having fun on a biking tour? Those sorts of things matter just as much, I think.

What is the most inspiring part about this job?

The most inspiring part about this job is hearing that people appreciate my work and what I have to say. I heard from one woman yesterday who said that checking out my blog has become a highlight of her day, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. It’s easy to forget that people are following along when I’m out there shooting and editing myself. I really appreciate knowing that stuff.

 

What is your travel itinerary for Transat Vacationer?

In May, I head to Cozumel, Mexico. June is Turkey and Greece. In July I’m at home in Canada for a month. August is France and after that I think it’s some combination of Italy, Spain, Jamaica and Cuba, but I’m not entirely sure yet. Either way, I’m pretty excited about what’s in store.

As a seasoned traveler, can you give our readers a few of your best traveling tips?

Sure! I don’t think any of these will be groundbreaking but they’re little tips that I’ve found helpful so far.

-Always keep a pen with your passport in the seat pocket in front of you during flights. Once you get settled, it’s a hassle to go back into the overhead compartment to try to find a pen, and you almost always need one to fill out customs documents if you’re switching countries.

-Stay hydrated! When you’re travelling and exploring, you tend to do a lot of walking and it’s easy to forget to drink water. Keep a bottle with you and remind yourself to take a few sips once in a while. It could mean the difference between staying out an extra hour and needing to head back to the hotel early.

-Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I rely on locals all the time when I’m gone. Whether it’s for directions or advice, they’re my best source of information. Even though I have guide books and maps, sometimes it’s easiest to just ask someone next to you for help when you’re standing on a street corner and aren’t sure where to go next. The worst answer I’ve gotten has been, “Sorry, I’m not from around here either!”

 

What are some of the best attractions, restaurants and hotels you’ve been to on the trip thus far?

This is such a tough one because I have been so fortunate to have seen so much and done so much.

As far as attractions go I loved going to the theatre in London. I know it’s not specific to London but there’s a particular vibe about the theatre district there that made it really special. There was also a jazz club in Havana, La Zorra Y El Cuervo, that was really neat. It was small and intimate and had the best live jazz. Restaurants are tough because I love food and find it all good! I certainly don’t have the discretion of a true foodie. If I was going to recommend any of the restaurants I’ve been to, though, they’d be Santo Coyote in Guadalajara,

Mexico and The Witchery by the Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. Both restaurants had amazing food, particular to their country, and really warm atmospheres. Regarding hotels, I can’t choose one over another because they’ve all been stunning and all offer something a little different. The most decadent hotel experience I’ve had so far, though, was at the Paradisus Varadero resort, Royal Service section in Cuba. It was like stepping into a brochure.

What is the place you most want to go to but haven’t been to yet?

France! I’ve heard such amazing things, not only about Paris, but also about towns in the South so I can’t wait to go.

What is the best place you have gone to?

I loved London, England. It had so much culture and such life and energy. It was a place I could easily see myself living.

 

La Soufriere volcano in Guadeloupe

Most of us have a few standout moments in our travels that are very memorable and inspiring. Do you have one you can share with us?

Absolutely! The moment that stands out most to me right now was the day I climbed La Soufriere volcano in Guadeloupe, and it stands out for two reasons. One- it was very difficult. It was a rainy, cold, windy day and getting to the top took a ton of energy and effort. I’m pretty athletic and I still struggled a bit during the points where it was basically a vertical climb. It also stood out because I did it with a wonderful couple I met during the Costa cruise I was on. Meeting them was awesome but sharing this experience with them was even better. At the end of the day I felt like I’d accomplished something and know that I’ll never forget that experience or those people.

 

Do you have any recommendations to travelers for interesting festivals or cultural events this summer?

Funny you ask because I was just discussing festivals with a woman the other day who travels across the globe, working at various music festivals. From what I’ve heard, Edinburgh, Scotland is the place to be in August if you want to take advantage of music festivals, art festivals, all sorts of cultural activities. I’d read about August being a huge month for festivals in a guide book and it was re-iterated to me by a bunch of guides I met in Scotland. From all accounts, it’s worth checking out the city that month.

More questions for Kate regarding her travel adventures? Leave your questions in the comments.

Follow Kate along her travel journey here!

Images: Kate McKenna, f_shields, roger4336, sybarite48