Meet Mary Harold

For anyone who has traveled with Academic Arrangements Abroad, our seasoned Tour Directors need no introduction. They distinguish our programs as much as our innovative itineraries, private visits and renowned lecturers. Today, find out a little more about Tour Director Mary Harold in our Tour Director Q&A.

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Last book you read: “The Wisdom of Your Face” by Jean Haner

Tour you most enjoyed: Antarctica?  Africa Safari?  Galapagos?  See a theme here?  Any place with animals!

City or country you would drop everything to go see: Bhutan

Last tour you were on: Galapagos Islands aboard Isabela II

Something about you that surprises people:  In my free time I am having a ball always learning something new.  Chinese Face Reading being my current learning extravaganza.  It is giving me more insights into who I am and being oh so much better at understanding those I work, play and travel with, and accepting and understanding them for who they truly are! Best teacher I have found is at

3 things you can’t travel without:

    1. Zip Lock Baggies in all 3 sizes – The kind with the zipper handle, not the squeeze ones
    2. Ear Plugs – The kinds that squish up and fit in my ear – Has saved innumerable nights sleeps!
    3. Young Living Essential Oil – “Purification” – I take the bottle of oil with me and a small empty spray bottle.  When I enter a room that smells bad, for any reason, I whip out my bottle put 3-4 drops of oil in, fill it with water and spritz the room, curtains, carpet, bedspread, lamp shades, etc.  One spritz will usually do it, but I have had no room ordor defeat me after 2 spritzes. (A few hours apart)  A real lifesaver in countries where non-smoking rooms are an illusion.

Number of countries visited: 96 by my last count

Destination / trip you would take your family on if money were no object:  Galapagos, Cuzco & Machu Picchu – I would charter the Isabela II for a week, then on to Peru for Cuzco – Minimum 3 nights in the Monestario Hotel.  Split the family for those energetic ones and not so energetic – One would hike the Inca Trail the other do the Sacred Valley and on to Machu Picchu – Minimum 2 nights at the Sanctuary Lodge for everyone!  Does not get any better than that!!!

Most Visited Web Site: I like checking the weather forecast before I go.  But what I find helps sometimes even more is to look at the weather history over the last few years.  Going to this web site I can put in the city, then click on the month and it will tell me all the weather history.  I can go back several years if I want.

Travel story you will never forget: In the late 80’s and early 90’s I traveled to Russia often, making many friends along the way.  During one of my visits a young man asked the favor of bringing him a pair of Nike shoes on my next visit.  I owed him a favor and was happy to help.  On my return, I met up with him and I gave him the shoes and he paid me.  He wanted to let me know how much he appreciated my help and presented me with, what to him, was an incredible gift – A Banana.

Thankfully, I realized just how rare this fruit was.  By my guess only the rarest of  Russians had ever seen a banana (outside of a book), let alone tasted one.   I was not even aware that a few extremely expensive bananas had started to seep into Russia, this gentleman procured one, and was willing to give it to me.  Thankfully, I recognized it as the monumental gift it was.  I thanked him profusely and returned to my room, tossing the banana on my desk.  “Hum” I thought, “What will I do with this?”  Obviously, I was not hungry.

The next morning as I went down to breakfast I tossed the banana in my day pack.  I was busy shepherding two buses of intrepid souls through the intricacies of breakfast and getting out and onto our buses for a full day of sightseeing.  Not an easy task in that era in Russia!  Just before departure a husband comes to me and says “My wife is not feeling well, she needs some Potassium tablets”.  Wow . . . my travel director brain kicked into overdrive as I ran through the challenges of getting those tablets in Russia and still pulling the buses out on time.  The grey cells were working as fast as they could.  Then the gentleman casually mentioned “or a banana would do”.  Oh, my . . . . I whipped off my day pack, produced “the banana” and handed it to him.  He beamed and said “cool, thanks” as he trotted off to the elevators.  I knew he had know idea how rare that banana was, the story behind it, nor was I sure I could ever really explain the incredible serendipity that short encounter entailed.  I still shake my head in wonder!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s