20 Questions with Richard
1. I never leave home without saying goodbye to my family.
2. On my first TCS World Travel expedition, I was in charge of the luggage for 92 travelers on our trip to some of history’s Lost Cities. Being responsible for 200 pieces of luggage as the group visited 10 countries was a real challenge to say the least.
3. On our trips, one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the friendliness, warmth and sincerity of the people in every country we visit.
4. A place I thought I’d dislike, but I fell in love with was Timbuktu in Mali. It’s such an arid country with many historical connotations of difficult travel, as well as its symbolism for Europeans as the end of the world. In fact, Timbuktu has a fascinating culture and history, it was integral to the learning and knowledge base of our entire civilization, and it still holds its place in current affairs.
5. My absolute favorite place in the world is home. It is where any travel starts and finishes, and it puts into context all the places we visit.
6. One place I haven’t seen yet, which I’m dying to visit is Zanzibar. I remember at university, I discovered in the library archives a British Foreign Office report on the Commonwealth Territories of Zanzibar and Pemba. It was from the mid-’60s and was a compendium of everything that happened on the islands in the preceding year. I was fascinated by it and I have always wanted to visit that wonderful place it described.
7. If I could travel with anyone, dead or alive, it would be a former American president who could give me a clear sense of the international relations between countries, which make the world how it is today.
8. A place I would definitely go back to is Antarctica—and I’d do a “Polar Plunge” in the icy waters.
9. The one moment from my travels that I will never, ever forget was learning how to be an elephant mahout in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
10. The best thing I’ve ever brought home from a trip was a pair of handmade paddles from Papua New Guinea. They were carved from local wood in a traditional design in a village in the Sepik River Basin.
11. My favorite place to shop is Cambodia. There are so many different souvenirs: carved Buddhas, beautiful hand-woven silks, silver jewelry and more.
12. Some of my favorite countries to eat in are Sri Lanka for its mild and tasty curries, Vietnam for its wide variety of dishes and Argentina for its steaks.
13. When I get home from a trip, the first thing I do is hug my family.
14. The best way to get over jet lag is to sleep on the jet and eat meals at the correct time for the new time zone.
15. If you get motion sickness, you should look at the horizon and take some ginger—either ginger tea or in a candy.
16. When I need to relax, I run for about half an hour. Traveling involves a lot of sitting, so exercise is great for the body and clears the mind.
17. If I hadn’t been an expedition leader, I would have been in the music industry. After college I worked in a nonprofit, promoting music education in schools. To promote the cause, I organized the world’s largest orchestra—3,500 young musicians performed in England under a world-class conductor. It ties in well with my travel career because music is an international language that transcends borders.
18. The first trip I ever took as a child was with my family, driving through the beautiful countryside of France and Spain down to the Mediterranean Sea.
19. I got my love of travel from a desire to see something new and to learn about the different ways people live.
20. My best piece of travel advice is to look around, soak up the surroundings and enjoy and trust the people you meet. Don't hide behind your sunglasses. Take them off, look people in the eye and smile—it is a great way to connect.
Richard Butler leads several luxury jet expeditions each year. Join him on: Lands of Merchants and Maharajas and International Intrigue.