Originally from the Northwest of England, Rick has found his way to New York via the Czech Republic, Spain, and a myriad of other destinations. Rick dreams of owning a Hacienda in Mexico, but Asia has always been his main passion. In the last decade, highlights have included meals with Geisha in Japan and being adopted by the Asaro Mudmen in Papua New Guinea.
What sparked your passion for travel and how did it become your career?
Like many people in our industry, I simply wanted to try and make a career out of something that I love. Family trips abroad as a child simply ignited my curiosity to explore more of the world, and when it was time to go to university I decided to focus my studies on tourism. While the initial focus was to work in hotels, it quickly became apparent that my enjoyment came from learning about anything and everything you can do in one destination, as opposed to simply where you can stay (although this is still very important!).
I've been very fortunate in that I've been able to focus most of my professional career on travels to Asia, my favorite continent.
How many countries have you visited? What were your top 3 and why?
I believe I'm currently at 55 for countries visited. India was my first foray into Asia, and it's a destination that everyone should experience once. Nothing can prepare you for the sensory overload and, although that trip was 13 years ago, I still remember every moment. It's such a complex destination, but one of the most fascinating countries in the world.
Thailand will always be a favorite and I have hopes of living in Bangkok at some point in my life. It's one of the most popular destinations in Asia, and with good reason. From pristine beaches to lush jungles, it really does have it all. However the reason why I keep returning is because of the people (it's known as "the Land of Smiles"!) and the food.
Finally, I have to give some love to South Korea. There's something about this country that keeps me coming back for more. Most people visit without any preconceived notions on what to expect, and they're blown away by the food, people, culture, and the legendary Seoul nightlife. The country is gaining more attention through successful musicians, TV shows, and movies, and this is definitely making people more curious to visit.
India is a feast for the senses
Thailand's street food culture
Gyeongju in South Korea is filled with cultural treasures
What’s the place you most want to visit that you haven’t been to yet?
I would love to take a road trip through Central Asia, exploring "the Stans"—Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
Why is it important for travel to make a positive impact?
I'm a huge advocate for making connections when traveling, and taking those moments to speak with people who live there. This helps to not only really learn about the country but to also share knowledge. I remember in Papua New Guinea showing people pictures of my life in New York City, and they were mesmerized by the sheer volume of buildings, people, and traffic. It's always good to give back whether it's through carbon offsetting or donating to a local charity, but it's equally important to simply travel with respect.
How can you promote positive change when traveling?
It's important for people to learn about the destinations that they explore, rather than just seeing the "highlights". I encourage people who are planning a trip to a different country to study up on the politics of the destination, as well as the history. I'm not someone that needs to visit everywhere, and I definitely appreciate being able to gain in-depth knowledge through repeat visits.
What’s the most surreal travel experience you’ve had?
Being invited to spend the night in a traditional hut with the Asaro Mudmen in Goroka, Papua New Guinea. The language barrier was definitely tricky to overcome, but it's definitely one of those moments where circumstance, chance, and three canceled flights allowed me to experience something truly unique.
Which was the most memorable property you've ever stayed at? Why?
Six Senses Yao Noi, which is on an island in the Andaman Sea of Thailand, not far from Phuket. Nothing can prepare you for the view as you open the wooden doors to your Ocean Panorama Pool Villa.
What item can you not travel without?
My laptop and charger. With the benefit of being able to work remotely, I cherish being able to do my job from anywhere and therefore maximizing the time I can spend in any one destination.
Pick one of your favorite photos from your travels and explain why.
Experiencing a traditional Geisha Dinner in Japan has definitely been a travel highlight. To do it in a private setting with real Maiko & Geisha is very difficult to arrange, and I feel very privileged to witness this tradition that still persists today.