On Jan 08 2021 by Staff
Klasko Staff Travels: Rachel Townzen Visited Every Continent
For the first post in our “Klasko Staff Travels” series, we are aiming high! Rachel Townzen, a paralegal at the firm, achieved a lifelong goal of visiting all seven continents in 2019 when she visited Australia. Rachel grew up in Boston and frequently traveled around the United States with her family. When she was old enough to travel on her own, international destinations were the next natural priority.
She has visited 49 countries outside the US, and now all seven continents after her trip to Australia in April 2019. As an innately curious person, Rachel wants to see and experience as much of the world as she can. The goal of visiting all seven continents was not something she set out to do initially, even though it was an informal “thing she’d like to do one day.” Around 2016, she realized she was more than halfway there: with five continents already under her belt, the final two were within reach.
She made a plan and a budget to complete the last two continents (Antarctica and Australia) over the next two years. Her trip to Antarctica (one of her favorite trips) involved a lot of advanced planning, with multiple travels stops along the way including the final leg leaving from Patagonia to cross the Drake Passage. Interestingly, during her time in Antarctica, the temps were higher there than they were at home in Philadelphia. The dry Antarctic air was also more tolerable than the damp cold she grew up with in Boston.
When talking about Antarctica, she says it was “like nowhere else I’ve ever been and just stunningly beautiful beyond words. I loved every second of that trip.” When Rachel told her parents that she was going to Antarctica, the first thing her mom said (once she recovered was from the shock) was “Well, at least I won’t have to worry about pick-pockets there). It has become a favorite family legend that upon setting foot on the Antarctic peninsula, Rachel started to feel a tug on her backpack and turned around to see a penguin trying to open the zipper. Naturally, she took a selfie of the robbery-in-progress, so her first communication with her family after crossing the Drake Passage was “So much for no pick-pockets in Antarctica…”
As a seasoned globetrotter, Rachel has gotten international travel down pat. She tends to travel with the same family of airlines, to maximize her accumulation and use of reward points. She plans ahead – but not too much, leaving space and time for spontaneity. And she loves to get off the beaten path. She has some diet restrictions, so while she isn’t an adventurous eater, she finds adventures and friendly faces by roaming to less touristy areas and taking advantage of free walking tours or going on a tour with a small, locally owned company. Through her travels, she has made international friends, and now enjoys going to visit them in their home countries, like she did in Lebanon, Argentina, and Australia.
Exploring the outdoors for her is one of the most rewarding ways to appreciate diverse landscapes and how culture is shaped by them. Museums and book shops are other must-visits in her destinations. She collects different versions and translations of The Little Prince instead of traditional souvenirs. Her bookstore searches take her to nooks and crannies she otherwise would have missed and helps her get her bearings in a new city.
Some of her travel essentials are quite sensible (and working in immigration, very smart!) including copies of her passport, outlet adapters, cash, and for extended trips, an older phone that will be compatible with a local SIM card.
Another fun wildlife encounter happened in Nara, Japan. The city is home docile deer that have full run of the city. They are protected and even adored by residents, with street vendors selling crackers so people could feed them. “They would walk up to us. It was absolutely adorable but also surreal to see a very modern city so full of deer.”
Rachel’s advice to others is to consider traveling solo! Rachel says it’s not as scary as you might think and can be incredibly empowering. Plus, she adds, “If I waited for someone to travel with me, I’d hardly go anywhere. It’s such a rewarding experience – and you can be on totally your own schedule.
The COVID-19 pandemic has of course interrupted and delayed trips she had planned in 2020. But as soon as it’s safe to travel again, she is planning on taking to the skies as soon as possible. For once, she has no international travel planned, but she hopes 2021 will be the year she can finally visit her sister, who lives and works in Ukraine.
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