Traveler Name: Katya Mackling
Hometown: Winnipeg, MB
Occupation: Athletic Therapy Student/ Server
Countries I’ve traveled to otherwise: United States, Cuba, El Salvador, Hong Kong
Why I travel: When you live somewhere as cold as Winterpeg it’s easy to want to get away. But for me it’s more than just getting away from home. I love visiting different countries and getting to learn about their cultures and way of life. Every single country and city has something new to offer and the people you meet along the way are amazing. Whether it be the locals, or other travelers, hearing people’s stories and adventures is something you can only gain through travel. On top of all of that, I am a major adrenaline junkie and I look for any opportunity to do anything wild or maybe slightly dangerous. And lastly, as much as I hate to admit it, after traveling for months at a time and flying for over 24 hours, seeing your little city from above is one of the greatest feelings around. Knowing that it doesn’t matter how long you’re gone for, you’ll always be able to come back home and everything will still be just as you left it is kind of cool. While travelling helps me to appreciate what other countries have to offer, more than anything it helps me to appreciate the country I live in even more each and every time I come home.
My favourite travel memory with FnEZ:
This is honestly the hardest question to answer. And I can’t choose just one. So I’ll leave you with my top 3 in no particular order.
1. (Let me preface this by saying that although I had never actually seen a real elephant other than maybe at the zoo as a child, they are my favourite animal.) On my 10-day northern Thai trip, we did a jungle trek through the jungle for 2 days. After 2 days of hiking and trekking through the jungle, I was pooped. All I wanted to do was take a nap, maybe have some lunch and then probably nap again. And then as we are walking through the jungle, we open up to this clearing of trees and all of a sudden there are just 2 elephants hanging out by the side of the river. I promise you my eyes lit up and I may or may not have had a tear or two in my eyes. I don’t think I stopped smiling for at least 2 days after that. Having the opportunity to hang out with the elephants and get to bathe them was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. And knowing that the elephants we were dealing with were treated well by the people who owned them made it that much better.
2. On my 20-day Indonesia trip, we had the opportunity to hike Mount Rinjani. I can easily say that this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also one of the most rewarding. The whole time hiking up that volcano you can bet your butt I was questioning why the heck I was there and just contemplating turning around. But I made it. And the view was something you can’t capture in words or in a photograph. Making it up to the top and camping on the rim of a volcano is an experience that is unforgettable. I am so thankful that I booked that trip as it was truly one of my favourite travel memories not only with FnEZ but in my whole life.
3. My third memory seems like such a simple moment in time, but it’s one of those moments that just sticks with you forever. This was on my very first ever FnEZ trip in southern Thailand. It was one of our first nights and we were at Banana Bar in Koh Phi Phi. If you’ve been on a southern Thai trip, you know all about Banana Bar. But basically it’s this bar on the roof and it’s all open. There were a bunch of people dancing on the dance floor just having a great time when all of a sudden it just started pouring. And I mean a torrential downpour. The dance floor cleared out immediately. The only people left was a group of about 10 FnEZ travelers who didn’t have a care in the world. Now I wear glasses pretty much every day, so rain and I do not get along. I can’t see with my glasses on and I can’t see if I take them off so there is just no winning. So usually I would be one of the first people out of that situation. But I just looked around at the people I was with and realized that the situation was perfect. So I ignored the fact that I couldn’t see a single thing and just kept dancing the night away with my new travel family.
Top 3 items I can’t travel without:
1. A sarong. You can literally use it for anything. Towel? Yep. Cover up for a temple? You got it. Cold train? Blanket at your service.
2. Monopoly deal. Since my first FnEZ trip I’ve been hooked and I don’t ever travel without a deck. It’s an easy way to make friends and kill time.
3. Tiger balm. I swear by it. Handy for bug bites, sore muscles, headaches, you name it.
What I love about traveling with FnEZ: My favorite part of traveling with Free & Easy Traveler is the people you meet along the way. I have created lifelong friendships and memories with people all across Canada and around the world. It’s as if every person you meet on a trip is part of one big loving family. I’ve caught myself with a few spare hours in a city and my first thought is “who do I know that lives here that I can catch up with over coffee or drinks.” Some of my friendships created on these trips are stronger than ones I’ve had my whole life. I also love that travelling with FnEZ takes some of the stressful parts of travelling away. You don’t necessarily have to worry about all the small details of your trip but you still have the opportunity to enjoy traveling and see the world with an unreal group of people.
Next bucket list item I NEED to check off: 100% skydiving. I don’t know when or where but it’s for sure going to happen soon.