Frank MacKay
Frank MacKay

Frank MacKay gets around, and around and around. So much so, he has earned a spot in the Travelers’ Century Club, which is open to those who have visited 100 or more countries. MacKay is at 106, or 108. He sometimes forgets.

“I’ve been to six continents and all 50 U.S. states,” says MacKay, 57, of Rocky Point, who is past president of the Long Island Division of WABC Radio. He is the past host of “Turning Point with Frank MacKay,” which began on NBC Nonstop and also aired on WCBS Radio.

While he enjoys traveling with his wife and four children, he often travels alone, and some of the trips have been wild. Really wild.

“I was in Ukraine after the war started for five days,” says MacKay, who also spent an additional 10 days in the countries surrounding Ukraine. “I’ve visited both Israel and Palestine on the same trip. I’ve been to the African continent four times. I love being in the jungle.”

Some of his trips are pure pleasure and some combine a little work. For example, he was scheduled to go to Antarctica. He purchased $500 worth of arctic wear in anticipation.

“I was in Christchurch, New Zealand, and was scheduled to be on the flight to Antarctica to help unload supplies for scientists,” MacKay says of a trip that was aborted at the last minute.

“I’ve been fortunate to have relationships that allow me to collect experiences,” says MacKay, who also has met seven presidents as head of the Independence Party of New York. “I’ve also been to every Major League Baseball stadium.”

An award-winning radio host whose show was nationally syndicated, MacKay has interviewed more than 6,000 celebrities and written eight books. He’s also served on the board of three colleges, including Touro Law School.

You can’t travel as much as MacKay without having some crazy stories. His 100th country was in the Caribbean, and yes, there is a story behind his trip.

“I made a stop on the Island of St. Barts and it was a holiday weekend, and I couldn’t find a hotel or hostel,” MacKay says. “I had money in my pocket and there was nowhere to stay. It was the day before Easter on a resort island and hotel rooms were going for $6,000 a night and you still couldn’t find one. I ended up sleeping on the street next to the ferry terminal. Luckily, it was a safe island, but here I am, a fifty-seven-year-old guy sleeping on the street.”

He has been in some sticky situations as well.

“I got detained in Nicaragua on the Honduran border,” he remembers of a bus trip that went wrong when, without thinking, he snapped a photo. “We were on a Ticabus and everything was going fine. We had been stopped and some guys pulled off the bus. Some people were selling water for a dollar, so I got off to get some water. After about two hours, the border guards came out with a bunch of passports, and I just took a photo of him with all the passports because it was an interesting shot. The border guard went nuts. He was infuriated and was screaming at me.”

An older local standing next to MacKay whispered to him, “This is trouble, big trouble.” He was right.

“This one guy started shoving me around,” MacKay remembers. “Another guy is screaming and cursing. I was told to sit in a chair. I was shoved into a desk and got the wind knocked out of me.”

Finally, one of the guards screamed for them to stop. Someone had figured out MacKay was listed as a journalist online. After some more screaming and accusations, they finally let him get back on the bus.

“I really thought everyone would be mad at me for making them late,” MacKay remembers. “Instead, they were apologizing to me. Some of the thirty or so guys from El Salvador who had been pulled off the bus had been strip searched and you could see their bruises, but people were apologizing to me.”

While he may take chances, the one thing MacKay won’t do is put his family in harm’s way in his travels. His wife, Kristin, and children sometimes travel with him. Those trips are a lot different: think itinerary and nice hotel rooms.

“My wife and daughter get upset, and think I take too many chances,” MacKay says. “Our three sons get it, though.”

Despite topping 100 countries, he has no plans to stop.

“My favorite country is still the United States, but I absolutely loved Tanzania,” says MacKay, who hasn’t gone to many countries more than once. “I went on four safaris while there. I will go anywhere there is a jungle. There’s a place in Uganda where the gorillas and chimps are near each other. I would love to go there.”

And, he probably will. After all, he is a have-passport-will-travel sort of guy.

“It’s like a drug,” MacKay says. “I get a high from traveling.”

After all, there is still Antarctica.

Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.

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