Carl Jr. Hill
A mistaken enrollment in a Mandarin class during his first semester in college led Carl on a trajectory that altered the course of his life. It was a serendipitous error, because through that course he discovered his passion for cultures and language, eventually studying abroad in Beijing. That was just the first step in a life that's focused on exploration, adventure, and travel.
Soaring over Laos
What sparked your passion for travel and how did it become your career?
Upon my return from studying abroad in Beijing, I received an exciting opportunity to live and work as an educator in Taiwan, where I lived for over a decade and used as a base for exploring Asia.
My first solo trip was to Thailand and Cambodia, which was a distinct departure from my study-abroad adventure. Nonetheless, it opened my eyes to the vastness of the world and instilled in me a desire to explore even further.
In early 2014, I launched my own travel company, originally known as CP Travels. By that time, my partner and I had already explored 30 countries, which piqued the curiosity of our family, friends, and even strangers. They wanted to know how we were able to travel so frequently, freely, and extensively. As we encountered this question repeatedly, we recognized the importance of actively sharing our knowledge within our network and offering a service that simplified the process, alleviated stress, and debunked common myths associated with international travel. From that moment onward, travel not only became my profession, but also my passion.
How many countries have you visited? What were your top 3 and why?
I have had the opportunity to visit 50 countries so far, and although it's challenging to narrow down my top three due to the unique value of each experience, I would have to choose Australia, New Zealand, and Kenya. Australia stands out for its exceptionally friendly people, and throughout my time there, I never encountered a dull moment. Whether you seek stunning beaches, immersive nature experiences in the outback, or simply a vibrant atmosphere with great vibes, Australia is the place to be.
New Zealand offered me a sense of peace, safety, and sheer beauty. I can vividly recall many memorable experiences, from witnessing the pristine waters to being captivated by the breathtaking views. From Milford Sound to Queenstown, every corner of the country exudes beauty both inside and out.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Natural beauty of New Zealand
Kenya holds a special place in my heart. It is where I felt the deepest connection to the people and their culture. I gained a wealth of knowledge and had the opportunity to witness the beauty and richness of the local culture. From encountering a white rhino to exploring vibrant local markets and learning about Kenya's industrial accomplishments, it was truly a transformative experience.
What’s the place you most want to visit that you haven’t been to yet?
That place would be Madagascar. The Malagasy culture is a captivating blend of African, Arab, and Southeast Asian influences, shaped by the island's diverse ethnic groups. Its unique biodiversity, stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and adventurous opportunities make it an enticing destination and a place I want to visit sooner rather than later.
Why is it important for travel to make a positive impact?
I believe, ultimately, making a positive impact through travel is essential for the long-term sustainability of destinations, the preservation of cultural heritage, the economic well-being of local communities, and the personal growth and enrichment of travelers. It allows us to be responsible global citizens and create a more sustainable and inclusive world through our travel experiences.
How can you promote positive change when traveling?
In my opinion, listening and connection are integral aspects of travel. By mastering these skills, the ultimate reward of sharing experiences becomes even more fulfilling. Taking the time to learn and understand the environment and culture you're immersed in is one of the greatest gifts that travel bestows upon us.
What’s the most surreal travel experience you’ve had?
Having lived in Taiwan for 12 years, I can confidently say it has been the most surreal experience of my life. What began as a journey as a traveler and visitor soon transformed into a deep sense of belonging. From my third year onward, I truly felt at home. Not a single day on the island passed without a sense of fulfillment, challenge, gratitude, and inspiration. Taiwan constantly offered vibrant moments and invigorating experiences that shaped me and enriched my life.
Which was the most memorable property you've ever stayed at? Why?
The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong was the most memorable property I've ever stayed in. From start to finish they went above and beyond to not only make me feel welcome at their hotel but connected to it as well. From a personalized cocktail at their bar to playing one of my favorite songs in acknowledgment of my birthday, the little simple additions truly added to a fully luxurious experience at the property.
What item can you not travel without?
Oh, my trusty backpack! It has come to my rescue numerous times, thanks to the magical items it holds within. One essential item I've learned to always pack is a rain cover or jacket. There are few situations more dreadful than being caught in a heavy downpour without any protection for your electronics or belongings.
Pick one of your favorite photos from your travels and explain why.
I will always cherish the exhilaration and sensation of leaping out of an airplane for the very first time. Surprisingly, my nerves subsided as adrenaline and anticipation took hold, transforming the descent into pure joy. At that particular juncture in my life, when I was seeking guidance, a strange yet profound realization struck me while floating weightlessly in the air. It was a moment that provided the clarity I needed, reminding me to embrace the unknown and never shy away from new and somewhat intimidating experiences.