AFAR ambassador Megan Eileen McDonough has dreamed of traveling from an early age, when her father bought her a toy passport at Disney World. Now a lifestyle journalist, blogging at Bohemian Trails, McDonough has made travel her career. Her diverse cultural background, being of U.S. and Irish descent, and married (sorry boys) to an Argentine, lends an added sophistication to her point of view, and connects her to places and traditions far and wide.
Occupation: Travel Writer, blogger, and social media specialist.
First international trip—when and where? I crossed the pond in 2008 at 21 years old to study abroad and work in London.
My passports (U.S. and Irish) are my most treasured travel souvenirs.
Is there an experience that has specifically transformed your life? Seeing real poverty for the first time in Bolivia. Some of the people I met literally had nothing and yet they were effortlessly happy. Their positivity deeply inspired me to view my own life through a new lens.
Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met on a flight or while traveling? When I was flying to Tel Aviv, a teenager came over to my row and desperately asked if she could sit in the empty window seat next to me while the plane took off. I later found out that this was her first time flying. The look of excitement in her eyes made me vow never to take my own adventures for granted.
Three things you can’t travel without: Camera, glasses, MacBook Air.
Favorite alcohol you can’t get in the U.S.: Aquavit.
Favorite hotel: Hardly your typical hotel, but The Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi. I stayed in my own cabin and felt like Santa’s little helper!
Favorite restaurant: S’MAC (Sarita’s Macaroni & Choose) in New York can turn any frown upside down. I promise.
If you’re in Graz, Austria in September, don’t miss your chance to try pumpkin seed oil at the farmer’s market.
Asking questions is great way to connect with locals. You’ll be surprised by their generosity and willingness to help.
What’s the one hometown place you miss most while traveling? My neighborhood: the Lower East Side, Manhattan.
Where do you always take out-of-town friends? Sweet Revenge in West Village.
Best memory of a trip with kids—either from your own childhood or with your own kids: My Dad bought me a fake passport at Epcot Center in Disney World Orlando and I eagerly went to every “country” to get it stamped.
Most out-of-character travel experience? Something that you would never have done at home: Galloping on a beach in Mexico. My horseback-riding lessons only got me as far as a comfortable canter.
Favorite foreign word or phrase: Pequeño, because that’s my humble status in this great big world.
Favorite foreign tradition: My husband is from Argentina and every week they all gather for an asado, a common tradition in their culture.
Travel has shown me that there are far more things that unite us than divide us.
Photo courtesy of Megan Eileen McDonough