Ticking off that Bucket List, one Holiday at a time! – Mandy Watson

This episode features Mandy Watson, her passion as a traveller has taken her across fifty-five countries which cuts across the seven continents.

Mandy has taken to various adventures across these countries, ticking off her bucket list.

She shares her explorations on her travel blog where she writes amazing experiences on places visited, her blog also features amazing pictures as well as videos to keep you entertained.

On this interview, she shares her best adventures, funny moments as well as travel tips for anticipating traveller, lets meet Mandy Watson.

Meet Mandy Watson

Devil swimming pool
Swimming in The Devil’s Pool, on top of Victoria Falls, Zambia

In a nutshell, I’m an Aussie mum who has had a sense of adventure since I can remember. Leaving our shores for a 6 month adventure halfway around the world at the age of 18, and scraping home with a dollar bill, sure taught me a lot about what can be accomplished!

Now that our kids have finished school, (and are able to house sit and feed our pets…bonus), my husband and I have become somewhat obsessed about travelling.

Keen to always explore new places, rather than revisiting old favourites, has been fabulous, as there is ALWAYS a new favourite place just around the corner.

Having cancer come unwelcomely knocking at our door 4 years ago, expedited our need to ‘live life now’!We are super healthy now, well, not bad, but it was a scare that woke us up to the important things in life.

We are determined to do as many adventurous trips as possible whilst we can. Tackling the high altitude of the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro to swimming with sharks etc…yep, done both!

I have started a fun travel blog/website, aptly named ‘Spending Kids Inheritance’, where all my stories, photos and videos are.

The Passion as a Traveller

I had a sports coach when I was a teenager, who enthralled me with his stories from when he traversed Africa, overland, from Capetown to Cairo back in the 1970’s.

He even went hunting with the Pygmies of the Congo! Also, he attempted climbing Kilimanjaro, but was forced down before submitting, when the effects of high altitude caused all the capillaries in his face to burst.

From that day on I promised myself I would complete that journey for him. Although he doesn’t know, I took a part of him with me in my heart to the top.

My brother also was quite adventurous in his youth…He slept on the sand in front of the Treasury building at Petra, in the early ’80’s – before the tourists, and shared tea with the nomadic Bedouins, before waking up to the sun’s rays hitting the carved cliff face.

Holy moly, how cool would that have been?! (Nobody told him about the scorpions in the sand though…) I think adventure in the blood.

I also love trying new languages and new cuisine. I barely shop for souvenirs… My motto has increasingly become to ‘Just say yes!’

Countries Visited

Whoa, how long have you got?

55 countries and all 7 continents by the end of 2019, sadly, nothing added this ‘year of the virus’. Aside from the obvious favourites, let me explain how I felt about visiting Antarctica.

Leaving the tip of South America…the infamous ‘Cape Horn’, and spending 2.5 days crossing the Drake Passage, in itself, is a journey right there.

Glorious scenery in Antarctica

At night, feeling the ship soar up a wave, get ‘air’, and come thumping down, hour after hour, made me think we were experiencing a cross between ‘The Perfect Storm’, and ‘The Poseiden Adventure’. As it stood apparently, on a scale between 1 -10, we were only at a 2.5.
After a couple of days, seeing the horizon glimmer in white was one of the most profound sights I had ever witnessed. There she was. The bottom of the Earth, and we were almost there.

Stepping onto continental Antarctica, made me feel like we were witnessing life on Earth – before humans.

A primordial existence. Just ice, birds, mammals and fish. Barely a human to be seen. No architecture to marvel over, no roads, no cities, no native cuisine to taste or music to hear. Life. Without humans. And it was breathtaking.

Best Destinations

When we meet fellow travellers, I always ask them their favourite 3 places…It’s not fair to just give one. So this is my answer to that:

Favourite City? Paris. By a country mile.

Favourite Country? Italy. Hands down.

Favourite experience? That’s a tie. Antarctica, and safari in Africa.

Fun Experiences

I think the most varied fun I have had was in Africa.

From camping on the Serengeti, where we witnessed the Persaids Meteor Shower whilst listening to lions and hyenas right near our tents, was something I’ll never forget…

Staying at The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, and feeding these beauties at dawn from our balcony, and one giraffe taking pellets from my lips.

Getting into a shark cage off shore in ‘Shark Alley’ south of Capetown, South Africa, and witnessing the sharks all around us was sensational.

Standing on the roof of Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro, was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can’t say it was fun, as summit night almost took the life of one of our team, but it was a hell of an experience!

Horse riding in one of the few inhabited live volcanoes in the world, in Ecuador… and no one knew where we were…

Swimming in the Devil’s Swimming Pool at the top of Victoria Falls in Zambia, fulfilled a life long dream. It was utterly exhilarating!!!!

I’ll stop there, the rest is in my travel blog.

Tips for Anticipating Travellers

Research where you are going and whether you need vaccinations for it. You may not want them, but sometimes coming back into your own country, they require proof that you have had them.
Keep your little yellow medical/vaccination passport, with you passport.

Use a travel agent. Winging it in Africa, nope, as sometimes an overland border crossing is a kilometre of no man’s land – you want to make sure you have the correct visa.

Get yourself a Go Pro if you want action/underwater footage. You can grab great screen shots from them.

Say YES!

Funny Moments

Oh blimey, can I give you two?

Camping on the Serengetti, after watching the meteor shower with 2 friends, we walked over to the toilet room, on the edge of the camp ground.

Luxury actually, it was a concrete bench with a lid over a long drop – normally they are just a squat hole in the floor.

Anyway, two of us stood sentry outside as one went in first. As it was still dark, and we were warned strictly to not leave the unfenced campsite, we were watching many, many sets of eyes, watching eyes, dancing from side to side, getting closer

Suddenly our friend came out running out, almost with her pants around her ankles, screaming ‘BATS BATS BATS!’….as it happened, she had lifted the lid to the long drop, and was about to sit down, when a whole colony of microbats flew out of the cesspit, all of which were now flying around our head torches….rabies anyone?

It was extraordinary!

Also, in Africa, when my hubby and I were getting kitted up with our wetsuits for our shark cage dive…and my very reluctant hubby, who was quietly panicking, was asked his shoe size for his wetsuit boots.

“Sir, what’s your shoe size?”

Hubby ” Good.”

Um,… I think he was a little preoccupied.

“Its a 9,” I answered, and to this day, we use this analogy when you don’t have an answer. “Good.”

Destinations on Bucketlist

We had the Northern Lights booked for March this year but had to postpone.
Looking forward to that one…Staying in a glass igloo, Ice hotel, reindeer sleighing, snowmobiling, floating in dry suits amongst icebergs – you can tell we live in a hot climate to find these exciting!
It will be epic.

Also, scenic rail trips around Switzerland, ending in a Halloween party at Dracula’s Castle in Romania. How much fun would that be?

Next year, hopefully, we get to travel again, and the first stop is driving the UK from bottom to top, visiting friends, staying in pubs, and doing some barging.

WHY? Because these will be great fun!

General Travel Tips

  • Try to be as healthy as possible. Maybe even lose a bit of weight first – hehe, particularly if you’re going on a cruise!
  • Get out all your stuff you want to pack, then halve it.
  • Upload your images to the cloud, or at least social media as you go, incase your phone breaks or is stolen or lost.
  • ALWAYS have small denominations of US dollars.
  • If you a flying halfway around the world to pick up a tour or ship…give yourself a couple of days at your departure spot, to look around and to acclimatise. Nice to start your journey without jet lag. That obviously said as I’m an Australian, and we seem to travel 30 hours to get anywhere!
  • Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro
  • Feeding the locals at Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Kenya

The views expressed in the above article are of Mandy Watson

Website: www.spendingkidsinheritance.com

Interviewed By: Dave [Tourist Checklist Editorials]