S4E12: Tom Butler – ‘On the Right Track’

Once upon a time, a wise old Jedi claimed that “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.” He stopped after suffering, though, so we have to wonder: what does suffering lead to? Is there a chance that suffering can lead to new possibilities? From suffering, there are opportunities for growth, for change, and for evolution. Suffering can be the catalyst for so many qualities necessary in a travel, and, sometimes, all that you need to do to obtain those qualities is to “rough it” when traveling. Tom Butler makes his triumphant return to discuss the benefits of “roughing it,” as well as his time in China.


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Traveling with a family

Tom returns to Hayden to talk about his life since he last visited in season three, as well as how he has begun to settle down with his family, which includes his three-year-old daughter and will soon include another child, coming this summer. He talks about how the logistics of traveling have had to shift since he has started adding children to his family, since the travel bug has not been dissuaded regardless of how many kids he has. Tom also discusses how to manage your budget and finances when you travel.

The highlight of Tom’s episode is in his story, based in China and given the alluring title of: “On the Right Track.” He talks about his journey with his family from Shiyan to Beijing, how they decided to stop over in Pingyao, but also decided to take the most overpacked train directly following Chinese New Year. What followed was a lesson in not overbooking trains, and in trusting those around you when something goes wrong.

Learning about different cultures through travel

Tom also discusses with Hayden cultural divides, differences from location to location, and how even the slightest deviation from your usual routine can count as a travel experience. They also continue their thread of how “toughing it” can make an experience that much more powerful and interesting to go through and learn from, as well as how to follow your own flexibility when scheduling and spending on a trip. When it comes right down to it, though, you will never know if you don’t give it a shot; “do or do not – there is no try.”

  • 0:57 – In the last episode of season four, Hayden re-introduces Tom Butler, one of our most popular guests from season three. Tom has been around the world with his wife and is starting to settle down with a family, with his second child on the way this summer, but the travel bug has never left him.
  • 8:05 – Hayden and Tom discuss the price spectrum of traveling and how to manage your budget and your finances when you travel. Tom mentions how your own comfort and experiences can play into your financial decisions, as well as how flexible you can be in your scheduling and your spending.
  • 15:27 – Hayden shares a story of his time in Vietnam, which Tom relates to the idea that, if you go through a bit of a rough patch, you can have an interesting learning experience. They discuss how the business of “toughing it” can make a journey that much more powerful.
  • 20:27 – Tom starts telling his China-based story, which he has charmingly titled: “On the Right Track,” a title while you will understand once you listen to the story.
    • Tom was traveling from Shiyan to Beijing, a lengthy journey, so he decided to stop for a couple of nights in Pingyao over Chinese New Year. He had not considered how many people would be traveling home after Chinese New Year had ended, and ended up on a dangerously overpacked train. On the train, they encountered a young girl who had been standing for hours on end who gave them directions on their journey.
  • 26:42 – Hayden and Tom break down the six-minute story of his ten-hour journey. They talk about how immobile he was, and the cultural divides that lead to variations like that. They talk about the differences from place to place, and how even the slightest step outside your usual routine is a new journey and an adventure.

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