Last month (November) a Canadian travel Company Transat Holidays jumped on the best job ever bandwagon with their Vacationer Wanted position. They offered up the position to one English speaking Canadian and one French speaking Canadian to work for them for a year. The selected “Vacationer” would travel the world on 12 different two week trips (one trip a month) reporting back, blogging, vlogging, social media-alizing you name it to promote the company and the vacations and destinations they offer. Any Canadian could enter this contest by submitting their resume and a two minute video highlighting a tourist destination and a little about themselves.

Thousands of people entered, more than double the amount expected (including myself, I wanted this job soooooo bad see my post and video!) and finaly on December 7th after an online vote and selection by a panel of judges Kate McKenna of Oakville, Ontario was selected as the English speaking winner and Pierre-Luc Cloutier for the French speaking position. Congratulations to them both!

I haven’t done an interview type post on Travel Yourself yet so I thought why not start with someone who is going to be living the dream life of being a paid to travel for a year? Someone we can all envy. The wonderful Melissa at the Strategic Objectives PR company got me in touch with Kate, please read our interview below:

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Absolutely! I am a 24-year old from Oakville, Ontario with a passion for sharing stories and listening to others’ stories. My parents are both journalists so I grew up in a house where current affairs were always discussed and storytelling was valued.
I attended Queen’s University where I completed undergraduate degrees in women’s studies and education and fulfilled my love of writing by being a sports reporter for the university newspaper, the Queen’s Journal. After graduation, I continued to develop my passion for communication by studying public relations and working as the online host for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. It ended up being a fabulous opportunity for me to hone my hosting, writing and editing skills.
As far as travel experience goes, I was a tour guide for Impact Educational Tours, where I took grade eight classes on week-long tours of Ottawa. It was an awesome way for me to combine travelling, teaching and storytelling and forced me to think outside the box in order to make history relevant to young people.
Once I got my teaching degree, I backpacked through Europe before settling in Florence for a few months to teach English to Italian kids.
2. In your audition video you mentioned that you have done a fair bit of traveling before. Which place has been your favourite so far?
This is a tough one since I’ve had the privilege of seeing quite a few gorgeous places, but if I had to single out one, it would be Santorini, Greece. Never have I felt so far away from the everyday. I know that sounds like a corny slogan right out of a travel brochure but I can’t think of a better way to articulate just how incredible the island is. Restaurants and boutiques are nestled into the side of the island; you can tan, climb volcanoes, and ride donkeys; and the people are welcoming and genuinely excited to show you around. I can’t say enough good things about it.
3. What do you like most about traveling?
Hands down, meeting all different types of people. Whether they’re other travellers or locals, hearing their stories is the most memorable part of travelling, for me. I love hearing about their experiences and find that everyday cynicism tends to disappear when people are abroad.
4. What was the first thing you did after you found out you were the winner of the Transat Holidays Vacationer position?
I wish I had a more glamorous, exciting story to share with you, but the reality is, I left the Transat office, sat in my car for about 45 minutes (which was freezing cold, since I didn’t turn the engine on!) and called every member of my family individually to share the news. Hearing their reactions was almost as good as hearing it myself! After I’d settled down a bit, I met my parents for a celebratory lunch.

5.What part of this job are you most excited for?
I’m most excited to be interviewing people and seeing what they have to say about the various destinations. In my mind, this position isn’t meant to showcase me, it’s meant to showcase these incredible resorts, and obviously the people that run them and visit them are a vital part of the story. I anticipate meeting all different types of people who have fascinating and funny stories to share about their travels, and those conversation are what I’m most looking forward to.
6. Previous to this contest were traveling, blogging, vlogging, and social media all things that you were interested in / looking for a in a job / career?
Absolutely! I’ve always had an interest in storytelling and the goal has always been to turn that into a career somehow. Obviously I never could have predicted this, but I knew that I’d work my hardest until I found a job that allowed me to talk to people and share their stories, whether in print, online, or on television. While I always hoped that my job would incorporate travel or provide me with the means necessary to travel, obviously the bonus to this job is that travel is the central element.
7. Have you done much solo traveling before? Was it something you were previously interested in?
While in Europe, I spent part of my travels with a few girlfriends and part of my travels alone. While I wouldn’t say that solo traveling, in particular, was something I was interested in, traveling generally was. The fact that I’ll be traveling alone over the next year is something I’m excited about. I think that it’ll be a really good learning opportunity for me and I’m looking forward to having to overcome challenges all on my own. I don’t think there’s a better way to grow than by testing your limits and solving problems independently. Having said that, though, I talk, a lot- so even though I’ll be working on my own, I’m hoping that I’ll make some friends at each destination!
8. Can you see yourself continuing on with a job like this after the year is over?
If by job like this, you mean one that involves travelling and storytelling, than absolutely! I think I’ll be hard pressed to find any job exactly like this, ever again, though. It’s a pretty rare opportunity.
9. You seem to have a good on camera presence. Do you have any tips for the readers/fans of Travel Yourself on how they can appear more confident in their travel videos?
First of all, thanks so much for the compliment, my on-camera presence is something I really work at improving on a daily basis. As far as tips go, I have a few that I’ll share with you that I try to live by. First of all, take every opportunity to practice. Regardless of whether that means creating a video for no reason at all or volunteering to create a piece for a local cable show or relevant website, the only way to improve is by doing. No matter how useless an opportunity may seem, go for it, only good can come of it. Second of all, show your work to people who know and soak up their criticism and commentary. I’m fortunate because my mom is a broadcaster herself, so I always have someone on hand to share my work with, but even if you don’t have a close contact who has on-camera experience, go out and find someone in the community- their knowledge is so valuable. Finally, as the saying goes, just do it. Be confident in what you do and don’t try to emulate anyone else. Be you.
10. Do you know yet what kind of equipment you will be using for your job? Type of Computer, video and photo camera?
From what I understand, I’ll be using a Canon 7D and an Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 underwater camera to shoot, and I’ll be editing using Final Cut Pro on a Mac.

11. Where online can we follow your travels? Website? Facebook? Twitter? YouTube Channel?
You can follow my travels at vacationer.transatholidays.com. I’ll be writing blogs, taking photos, and creating videos, and will be posting it all on that website. Please feel free to get in touch with me about the things that you’d like to see- I really value that input.

Thanks for the great interview Kate!

Please leave comments below and any questions you might have to Kate I can definitely pass along. Also look forward to possibly more from Kate on Travel Yourself in the near future. ~Cailin