6 continents by 26: Life on the Road With Mackenzie

Like I said before, I have some pretty amazing friends who have done some pretty amazing things. I asked two of my best lady friends, Mackenzie and Kelly Anne, to answer some questions about their lives, travel experiences, and just some fun things I was curious about. Love them both and I'm sure after reading their answers over the next two blog posts-you will too. 

The answers below are of my friend Mackenzie. We met when we were at Georgia Tech and have been great friends ever since. She is one of the hardest working people I've ever met, always down for an adventure, and the most fearless little dance partner I've ever had the honor of sharing a stage (perhaps slightly inebriated) with. Nothing but love and respect for this one. All of the pictures, except the one below, are Mackenzie's and ones she chose for this post. Enjoy!

How do you entertain yourself on planes/trains/getting to where you're going?
Paperback books. They’re light and easily shove into purses and plane back pockets. Just make sure it’s an easy/light-hearted read. Don’t go reading something depressing or scary that could affect your mood. I made the mistake of taking Kite Runner on a plane once and was crying. Phone batteries die quick and I try and use them for emergencies only/picture taking when my giant camera is inappropriate, I don’t rely on it for entertainment.

What is your favorite place you've ever been? Why?
The nicest people I have ever met abroad were in Scotland. Not to mention, the countryside is so incredibly beautiful.

How many countries have you been to?
22. 6 continents total.

Would you want to go back to any of the places you've already been to? Why or why not?
Pretty much all of them. There’s no way that I’ll ever experience everything a city has to offer.

When you travel, do you usually stay in hostels or hotels? Any particular reason?
Hostels if I’m traveling alone or in groups. I love hostel culture. It’s easy to meet people from all over the world, they’re always down to party and you are guaranteed adventurous people to go exploring with.
Hotels if I want it to be romantic or if I know exactly what I’m going to do and who I’m going to do with it. Also, more of an option in places without a language barrier.
Friends I met in my hostel in Bogota, Colombia
When you travel, do you collect souvenirs? If so, what kinds of things do you gravitate towards? 
Jewelry. I can wear something and it will remind me of my trip. If you get something really unique, it’s also a great conversation starter.

What are 5 things you pack for every trip?
Baby powder: It works way better than dry shampoo.
Eye drops: Bc, contacts.
Gum: Bad breath is the same in every language.
Camera: Seriously, there’s something to be said about “Pictures or it didn’t happen”
Rain coat: Weather is unpredictable everywhere and I think umbrellas are a pain in the ass.
During a monsoon in Palau
Are there any items you would suggest that other people should pack or invest in to make their trips more enjoyable?
Carabiners always come in handy, I promise.

What mode of transportation do you like best?
Trains. They may be slow but it’s some of the best sleep I’ve gotten in my life and you get to see the countryside of wherever you are.
On a 15 hour train ride from Bangkok to Vientiane
How many languages do you speak? Have you ever thought it was a significant problem, not speaking the language of somewhere you've been?
One. English. I’ve never had an issue, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to find people nice enough to translate for me, either friends I went with or people I’ve met along the way. My biggest issue is typically being unfamiliar with currency and never giving people the right amount of money.

What's the worst thing about traveling?
Coming home.

What's the best, in your opinion?
Getting lost. I’ve been lost in several different places, but you always find the best hidden gems this way and you get to talk to locals that want to help you out.

Have you ever been backpacking?
Yes, I backpacked for about a month in Southeast Asia.

What's the longest trip you've ever taken?
The backpacking trip to Asia.

Do you travel with any electronics? Which ones and why?
Only my phone and camera. I try to go au natural when it comes to hair appliances. I had a bad experience with a straightener in Australia and because of the electric plugs I ended up frying my hair and looking ridiculous.

If you could tell our readers one piece of advice, what would it be? 
Go with the flow. My most recent trip was packed with hiccups and I could have been really upset. All the museums I wanted to see were closed because they were being used as polling places and no alcohol was being sold due to elections. Instead, I took a trip to the countryside and ended up having a great time.

What's your favorite book?
Pillars of the Earth. It’s a historical fiction novel, set in medieval England focused on the scandalous side of the church and what it takes to build a cathedral. It ties together a bunch of different storylines together.

What's your favorite food you've had in another country?
I really miss Doner Kebabs from Germany.

What's the weirdest custom/festival you've ever experienced?
They eat fried bat and pickled bear feet in Laos, little kids sell it on the streets.

When you think about all your trips, is there any one place that you could move to forever?
Italy. Hot men, good food, and history around every corner. What more can a girl ask for?

Where is your next big trip going to be?
Macchu Picchu, hollaaaaaa.

Do you prefer to travel during warm or cool months?
Warm. Even though it might mean more sweat and possible sunburns, packing for cold weather gets heavy.
That down coat was a pain to carry around. Chicago, Illinois for St. Patrick’s Day.
Do you keep a journal?
Yep, I try and write it in every night, but sometimes it’s when I get down time. Waiting on my friends to wake up, waiting on a train, etc. It’s also where I stick my tickets and other little things that I want to scrapbook later. I do go back and read them, too, they don’t go to waste.
Journaling on the beach in Maui
Do you travel with a phone?
Yep, for photos I want to Instagram, for maps when I get WiFi, and in case of emergencies, duh.

Do you prefer to travel with someone or alone?
With someone. Mostly because I’ve learned that selfies over and over again are difficult, and I like pictures.
Selfie fail with a kangaroo in Brisbane, Australia
What's one piece of advice you would offer when it comes to staying on a budget?
Most important is being fluent in currency. I also only bring a certain amount of cash that I’m allowed to spend. I keep track of all my purchases and try and save any major souvenir purchases for the end of the trip, I’d rather spend my money on experiences anyway.

Has there ever been a time that you really wish you had brought something with you on a trip that you didn't have? What was it?
On my trip to Greece, I forgot my contacts. Snorkeling and doing watersports in glasses is impossible.

On a scale of 1-10 how important are the shoes you bring in terms of comfort and function? What shoes do you wear most when you travel?
Probably an 8. Traveling entails walking and if your feet hurt, your whole trip is going to be ruined. I am a notorious over-packer and shoes are one of them. I’ve realized that 3 is a good number. Flip flops for easy things like the shower and quick short trips or the beach. A pair of flat closed-toes shoes for when you are visiting religious places or dangerous terrain and a pair of nice strappy sandals if you’re in the city or a pair of Chaco’s if you’re doing more outdoorsy stuff. (Side note: I wore my Chaco’s in Palau and something about that water did not agree with them. I still can’t get the smell out. Try waterproofing your shoes if you know you’ll be a in a wet climate.) I took heels on a month long trip once and never wore the damn things. Don’t do it.

What's your favorite thing you've bought while abroad?
Right now, I’d have to say all the World Cup stuff I got when I was in Germany.

What's the most romantic place you've ever been? Why?
I can’t really answer this because I’ve never actually traveled with a romantic partner, but I’ve always wanted to go somewhere and do a love lock.

What's the scariest place you've ever been?
When my family went to Morocco there was a travel warning issued for Americans, we had to hire a bodyguard because my little brother is a tow-head blonde. Granted, I never really felt unsafe, but maybe I should have.

What kind of luggage/bags do you use?
A big ol packpack. Wheels are difficult if you’re not always sure of your terrain. I also bring a cross-body camera bag. It has lots of compartments and is hands-free.

Do you read travel blogs or guide books?
I use blogs to help me with packing ideas, products I need and good outfit combinations etc. I use Pinterest to find destinations that I want to go and things I want to do when I’m there.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done while you were on a trip?
I hitchhiked with complete strangers several times when I had zero access to public transit.

Where's one place you HAVE to go before you die?
Galapagos Islands. I need to see where Darwin did all of his writing.



2 comments

  1. Jewelry is a GREAT option for a souvenir. And I would certainly use it more than my shot glass collection. Now, I want to start over!!!!

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  2. I'd have to agree with Mackenzie. People in Scotland were SO kind! I had a fabulous experience there and would love to go back one day! These are all really great traveling tips. What a wonderful thing to be able to experience six continents.
    Alison

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