Go Away With … Richard Wiese

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
September 27, 2011

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Richard Wiese, field scientist and host of ABC’s travel program “Born to Explore”–based on his 2009 book of the same name–was born to explore. His father was the first man to fly solo around the Pacific Ocean. At the age of 11, Wiese and his father climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and when he got older, Wiese led numerous expeditions there. Wiese, who’s been to all seven continents, lives in Connecticut with his wife and three young children.

Q. What tidbit can you offer about your latest travels?

A. We did a really great story in Australia recently. Did you know that the largest herd of wild camels lives in Australia?

Q. What would people be surprised to hear about you?

A. I have a thing about my electric toothbrush. I remember brushing my teeth with it on the North Pole.

Q. What are your memories of traveling as a child?

A. My father was a pilot for Pan Am and later United and he had a fantastic career. He afforded us a really interesting life of travel. I didn’t realize things were out of the ordinary to go flying to all these places. In the summer, he’d ask, “Do you feel like coming to Germany with me tonight?” And I’d say, “OK.” For a while I’d fly to the west coast of Africa for weekends. Travel always followed me. I flew in an era when I wore a jacket and tie on the plane. The whole airport experience these days has become such an unpleasant experience.

Q. Which cities stand out?

A. I like Chicago because it’s not so dense like New York. I was impressed that there’s a nice beach right downtown. I like the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. It’s really pretty. I love Sydney.

Q. What part of the United States would you recommend?

A. One of the best bargains in travel right now is the Florida Everglades. It’s a really neat outdoor adventure and a great place for families. You can see birds, dolphins and go fishing. I’ve done it several times and it’s very kid friendly. My wife and I both like hiking so we’ve taken all our kids hiking from the get go.

Q. Have you taken any trips that were life changing?

A. Africa, the Galapagos Island, Antarctica. I was in Iceland looking at the aurora borealis and you can’t help but be moved by that.

Q. Which country gets a bad rap as a vacation spot?

A. Iceland! It’s a great travel destination and is a lot closer than most people think. It’s only a five-hour flight from New York. And it’s not as cold as everyone thinks it is either.

Q. Where would you like to spend more time?

A. I’ve never been through Southeast Asia and I’d like to go there. Indonesia looks great.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. I always take a thumb drive that I put all my credit card information on and passport pictures. So if I lose a passport, it’s something that I can access easily and get all my info. Hand sanitizer, especially for adventure trips. I never seem to get sick on trips and it’s because I always keep my hands clean. I wear wool socks and underwear. It’s anti-microbial. If I wore wool socks for a whole week, which I sometimes do on trips, it’s very practical. I just got an iPad and that’s pretty neat to use instead of a laptop. I also have this tiny travel scale to weigh my luggage so I know that I’m not over the limit. Converters are super-important, too. And soft earplugs ‘cause there’s always someone who snores like a 747.

© 2011 JAE-HA KIM

Comments (2)

  1. John V.S. says:

    I enjoyed your interview with Richard very much but I noted one interesting point in the last section on what to take with you. He mentions that “. . . converters are super important, too.” I have been selling converters, adapter and transformers for over 15 years and his statement is a bit of misnomer. About the only thing you can use a converter with is a 110V hair dryer or curling iron. I am surprised that some one as experienced as he is does not have all dual voltage products which are very easy to get today. In fact just about all if not all electronic items are dual voltage so the really the best thing to travel with is an adapter plug set with a USB charger. If you want to know more about this item and other cool travel products visit us at http://www.travelonbags.com. I am not sending this as a solicitation but rather a comment as so many travelers are confused about foreign electricity conversion. If you are at all interested I can even tell you why the US is 110V and most other countries are 220V. Thank you.

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