One year later with Kate McKenna the Transat Vacationer

Exactly one year ago this week in December 2010 I interviewed Kate McKenna the winner of Transat Holidays Vacationer Job. It was a job I a had applied for along with thousands of other Canadians. Kate won the job and she has spent the past year traveling around the world for free as her job blogging, making videos and basically living the life. It is now a year later and her job is sadly coming to and end so I thought I would interview her again and see just how awesome the past year has been.

(Photo above: Kate in Mykonos, with a vendor at the morning fish market.)

1. It’s one year later, in one word describe how it has been.

2. Did you travel by yourself on every trip?
I was with Pierre-Luc, the French Vacationer, on every trip. I was with him virtually every day. With one or two exceptions, we stayed at the same resorts, did the same activities, took trains, planes and automobiles together. It’s neat to have someone who has a first-hand understanding of this year and everything that came with it. Our relationship, in my mind, is quite similar to  the one that siblings share. Sometimes we got annoyed with each other but at the end of the day we care a lot about each other and are proud of what the other accomplished.

3. Which destination was your favorite?
I’m going to cheat with this one and give you three favorites in various categories:
Favorite City to Live In: London, England
Most Unique City: Cappadocia, Turkey
Favorite Sun Spot: Riviera Maya, Mexico

4. Which was your least?
Marseille, France but that had little to do with the city and more to do with the stuff that happened there. My camera broke just prior to that, credit card got stuck in a parking machine, favorite earring fell down the drain- all minor stuff that ended up shading my brief stay there.

(Editors note: That reminds me of my recent trip to Berlin where I was really sick my first day that made me dislike it. But once I felt better I loved it haha.)


5. Did you ever have your luggage lost?
Happy to say my luggage wasn’t lost once.

6. From our interview a year ago you said you would be using a Canon 7D and an Olympus Stylus Tough 8010 underwater camera to shoot, and editing using Final Cut Pro on a Mac. Is that what you ended up using? How do you feel the camera performed? What did you use for a microphone?
Right after our last interview, Transat let me know that my equipment list had changed. I ended up using a Panasonic Lumix G2 and a GoPro camera to shoot, my mic was a Sennheiser SK 100 G3 and I used Final Cut Pro to edit my footage. Despite the fact that it broke while in France, I loved the Lumix camera. I couldn’t have been happier with how it performed and it was small enough to comfortably carry around cities, which mattered a ton since I was also carrying a tripod so a bulky camera would’ve made things difficult. The GoPro was also fabulous for more outdoorsy videos- biking, surfing, hiking, snorkeling- it was perfect.

7. I notice that you have music in your videos where did you get the music from? Was that from a library transat purchased or do you have a favorite website?
Some of the music was Transat purchased, some was from

8. Did you do all of the editing and graphics yourself?
As far as the video blogs went I did all the editing myself. The videos on the main page were all shot and hosted by me but edited by an editor in Montreal. Those videos all focused on the destinations and the resorts- whereas all my video blogs were about the activities I did while there.

9. How many videos did you end up making?
111. I usually did 7 per trip plus 2 corporates- so 9 times 12= 108 plus there was one before I left at the Transat office, there will be a recap one and I did extra vid or two in London so that’s how I got to 111!

10. What is next for Kate McKenna? Any future projects lined up? Will you continue working with Transat?
There are a few balls in the air though nothing is definite at this point. I’m looking into doing a bit of college-level teaching, have applied to journalism graduate school and am considering a few writing and broadcast opportunities so we’ll see! My goal is and has always been to spend my days doing something that I love which I’m aware sounds ridiculously cliche, but it matters so much to me.

11. Do you know if transat will do this project again? Please let them know that I am still available :)
That’s a question that you’d have to ask the Transat marketing department. I know they were really pleased about the way this campaign went but I’m not sure what’s next promotion-wise. I’ll definitely let them know you’re available and interested, though!

(Editors note: WICKED! haha)

12. Which video was your favorite to make?
You’re killing me with this question because there are a few that really stand out just because of the stories that go along with them and the people they involve. If I have to choose one it would be the Madrid Tapas tour video. By coincidence, it involved a perfect group of people. None had met before but we got along incredibly well. They loved the fact that I’d be documenting the evening. The guide was fantastic and very good on camera, the food was fabulous, the shots were great and I worked really hard on the final product. I had a ton of footage so it took me a while to edit but I’m really happy with the end result because I think it’s really representative of the night. I’m happy with the way I captured the experience.

13. Did you ever have any “celebrity” moments while on the road? People noticing you from the campaign?
Nothing too crazy, although I did get recognized once on a Transat flight. I was putting my luggage in the overhead compartment and the guy sitting behind me said, “Aren’t you Kate? I follow your blogs!” That was pretty cool. The coolest thing for me is hearing that people are visiting the places I blog about because they’ve seen my videos or read my articles- I’ve been writing for the Hamilton Spectator’s travel section all year. I love hearing from tour guides and shop keepers that people are coming based on my articles or suggestions. It means a lot that someone who I don’t know would trust my advice like that.

14. Do you have any crazy stories to share from the road?
Nothing earth-shattering but there are little things that I’ll remember for sure- being stuck in a washroom in rural Cuba without toilet paper (rookie mistake) and desperately needing it, almost crashing a Benz in France (those roads are ridiculously narrow!), getting called up on stage in Dublin to do a “sexy” dance when “sexy” dancing is certainly not a forte- it turned into more of an awkward, fiddle-accompanied rhythmic movement demonstration… I love those little road stories because those are the types of things I’ll remember in the future.

It sounds like you have had an amazing year Kate! Please stay in touch and keep us updated!

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  • Reply
    Alexa Meisler
    February 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Sorry about what happened to you in Marseille. Things like could really get you down and hate where you are. But I’m glad you made the most of your trip and the video was fun and informative as well! Thank you for posting.

  • Reply
    December 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    111?! I can only hope to pump out that many videos one day. I am actually about to sit down myself lol!

  • Reply
    December 15, 2011 at 4:22 am

    Wow, free trip! You Canadians sure know how to do it. Glad you had a great year. Good luck readjusting to Western life ;-)

  • Reply
    K McKenna
    December 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Just wanted to thank you for your great comments! It absolutely was a delightful adventure. Lise, sorry I missed you and thanks for the well wishes. Hope you continue to travel and enjoy every minute!

  • Reply
    Lise Borris
    December 13, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I followed all of your adventures and almost met you a few times: Italy (we were there at the same time but we did the reverse trip + Sicily), Cayo Santa Maria (you were there the week before us).

    You are a great communicator with a wonderful sense of humor, Kate. Good luck in your future endeavours.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2011 at 4:20 am

    Awww I remember when I sent in my application for this! Kate did a great job. Here’s hoping Transat Holidays or any other big travel company does another competition like this one! :)

  • Reply
    December 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    What a delightful adventure to have had. Love the interview and as an ASU alumn I have to ask – is the Cronkite School on the list?

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