Five BYU graduates found themselves in Cairo days after exploring Greece and just before boarding an Egyptian cruise. Upon arrival, all five were informed they were not to leave their hotel without permission of their tour guide.
However, unbeknownst to their guide, they crammed into a tiny cab equipped with a disco ball and fur seats to see the city at night. Sound exotic? This was only one stop of many for McKay Scoffield, who took a 17-country detour after graduation on his way to an accounting job waiting for him in New York City.
Scoffield graduated from the BYU accounting program in April. He has a passion for travel, exemplified by his dream to buy a sailboat to travel the world after retirement. This summer Scoffield had an uncommon experience between his graduation and the commencement of his adult career, starting with a study abroad to Ghana.
After Ghana, he wanted to work as a sea-kayaking guide in Santorini, Greece. Shortly after beginning his job there, a change of plans sent him exploring the world.
“I remember right before I got on the plane (to Greece) I just thought, ‘I can bail right now. I don’t have to go,’ because I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Scoffield said. “I just had this random thought, ‘If I stay here in the U.S. I know exactly what my summer is going to be like, but if I get on that plane, I have no idea.’ So I decided to get on the plane.”
Scoffield’s summer would involve exploring new lands, swimming in the tallest waterfall in western Africa, feeding monkeys, riding horses bareback on the beach, watching baby turtles hatch, participating in an Egyptian wedding party, countless nights in airports and a desire to see more.
The first stop after Ghana was the sea-kayaking job in Greece, where Scoffield stayed for just over a month before the travel bug bit again. Scoffield messaged a friend he met on his Ghana study abroad: “Hey, July 6th meet me in Budapest?”
She responded, “Heck yes!”
After traveling with this friend for a few weeks, Scoffield went to Italy with his man-bun, beard, a backpack and the money he made in Greece to meet another friend traveling in Europe with a BYU business study abroad group. Scoffield traveled with the group from Florence to Rome.
Once the study abroad ended, Scoffield and four friends went to their next adventure in Egypt. “It was just a big, crazy, dirty, chaotic city and I absolutely loved it,” Scoffield said, referring to his time in Cairo.
He said they never felt afraid traveling in Egypt. “We were five guys. We were pretty well traveled, so we felt really safe going around. Egyptians are so nice. They were so warm and welcoming,” he said.
BYU grad Jon Gillespie was one of these friends traveling Egypt alongside Scoffield. Gillespie knew Scoffield through the BYU Jerusalem Center study abroad. “I knew we’d have a good time,” Gillespie said. “We’re young and dumb right now … it was a good time in our lives to kind of take advantage of the summer travel.”
Scoffield and friend Scott Perron headed to Qatar after a few weeks of travel with his five friends. “We were like ‘I don’t know if this is safe to book an Airbnb in the Middle East, but we’re doing it anyway,’” Scoffield said.
They stayed at an Airbnb with Eslam Hafez, a 22-year-old Egyptian, and his friend Hossam Amin. Scoffield described the time with Hafez and Amin as one of the highlights of his summer. “To me it was a really special experience to be with Muslim guys … and they let us into their life and their religion quite openly,” Scoffield said. “I think it helped them get over some stereotypes and it helped us get over some stereotypes as well.”
Scoffield said Hafez and Amin spent a lot of time with him and Perron, taking them out to dinner and on a desert safari.
Hafez had another side to the safari story. “Yeah, we almost flipped the car twice, but McKay didn’t know anything,” Hafez said. “He thought that we meant to do that stuff to scare him or something, but no – it was scary to us too.”
Once Scoffield left Qatar, he and Hafez kept in touch. “We talk a lot about almost everything,” Hafez said. “His updates in life and ours too. I’m going to visit his country and his people. American people are really nice if they are all like McKay.”
Scoffield finished off his summer with a trip back home to Modesto, California and a stop in Alaska.
“I started out the summer thinking it was about the sights I was going to see, but in reality it was more about the people I met along the way,” Scoffield said. “I was struggling during my travels to find a purpose. I felt like I was just purposely wandering around, but I guess at the end of the day my purpose became the people I was meeting and the relationships I was gaining.”
Scoffield’s last flight left him in New York City to begin his new adventure with the Deloitte finance firm. But this won’t be the end of Scoffield’s travels. As Gillespie said, “I know McKay will still have to get out and see the world.”
During his flight to New York, Scoffield talked with two women next to him. “Again, it was kind of like going to Greece,” Scoffield said. “I don’t know what I’m getting myself into and I kind of expressed that to these ladies on the flight.”
Upon landing at the LaGuardia airport the plane slammed down very hard. “People screamed inside the plane,” Scoffield said. “I just turned to the ladies and I was like, ‘Well, we’re off to a bumpy start!’ and one of the ladies turned to me and said, ‘Trust me, there will be more bumps along the way.’”