January 29, 2012

The Vacationer

Imagine winning the paid opportunity to travel to a new place every month for an entire year?

Kate McKenna knows what it’s like. Kate won the Transat Vacationer contest and the chance to travel for a year, spending two weeks away of every month exploring a new place, and the other 2 weeks back at home.

When I sit down with Kate, she instantly tells me that she has a fear of flying, an odd characteristic for someone who applied to be a professional vacationer. She remembers crying her eyes out on a plane with her father right after she was short-listed for the contest. "He asked me what I would do if I actually won?" she says. The competition's main component was a video application, highlighting the person's qualifications that would make them the ultimate vacationer. "I really didn't think I would win," she says.

The thing about Kate is that despite her radiant appearance, (shiny, healthy hair and those bright, clear eyes), she's really earnest. You believe her when she says that she didn't think she would win, even though it's clear why she did.

Her destinations for the year included: Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey. It would be easy to assume that she was followed around with a camera crew during her journey, but she created all of the 111 videos herself. “My photography skills really improved. I was proud of the videos I made. It was a form of storytelling for me,"she says.

Kate explains that she loved reading the comments on her videos and blogs and was surprised by the large response she received from fans. Every adventure she participated in (from hot air ballooning in Turkey, to Edinburgh castle touring in Scotland) could be purchased through Transat.

While her whirlwind year-long adventure would leave any person reminiscing about sandy beaches or volcano climbing she explains, “Destinations are amazing, but it’s about the people." Finally, I ask her (warning: cliche interview question alert) to describe her entire experience in one word.

Kate waits a moment, swishes the question around in her head and responds, "Decadent."

To read all about Kate's adventures, head over to and check out some of her photos below.

Streets in Havana, Cuba
 Dancers in Dominican Republic
 Fishing village in Puerto Morelos, Mexico
 Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey