Dear Fellow Travelers & Friends:
My name is William Chalmers.
Thank you for visiting our website. Please feel free to browse around and enjoy our photos, travel insights, links, and maybe even our sense of humor. We, of course, welcome your comments. That said…we are on an indefinite hiatus pending the vaccination of most of the world. Until then, here’s our story:
In 1989, I was involved in a travel adventure like no other before it. It was indeed a madcap wacky race around-the-world on public transportation called the HumanRace. To make a long and somewhat depraved story short, my partner Andy Valvur and I won that race, traveling more than 40,000 miles in just 17 days. Frankly, some loved it…some hated it.
Participating and winning that race earned me a lot of free drinks in many of the world’s great watering holes from some equally great fellow travelers…and a few accolades too. But since the day that event came to an end, I have always wanted to do it again. I was one of those that loved it; obviously, the sign of a true travel junkie! But alas, no one was ever able to put something like it together since 1989.
The Global Scavenger Hunt™ idea came to me mystically in 1999 while trekking in Nepal. It seemed so obvious when that little Eureka-moment lightbulb went off in my head that I should organize the next edition of a world travel championship event. Clearly, I had the experience to do it. I had a deep passion for adventurous and culturally-oriented travel. And I certainly had learned a thing or two about all the pitfalls of participating in a previous real-life race around-the-world event. Indeed, it was oh so obvious that I should be doing this. That, combined with being able to mix it with my other real passion, of helping others help themselves, and my Foundation’s charitable work. What more could I ask?
I asked my girlfriend at the time, Pamela—now my wife, partner, and mother of my son—what she thought about the idea; she said, “let’s do it,” rather enthusiastically. Maybe too enthusiastically.
So, in the summer of 2000, we started creating The Global Scavenger Hunt™. And our first event, GreatEscape2001—as we called it back then—was planned for October 2001. But instead, we woke on the morning of September 11, 2001, with phones ringing off the hook on the West Coast. The world changed that morning, and we postponed our fall event. Still, we eventually held our first inaugural event, GreatEscape2002: The Global Scavenger Hunt, in the spring of 2002.
And here we are…more than two decades down the road, with fifteen successful (and safe) events under our belts, taking hundreds of fellow travelers around-the-world to over 85 countries. Our goal annually is simply to hold a great event for great travelers. We want our travelers to visit genuinely extraordinary destinations to do and experience truly extraordinary things. We want our participants to interact with equally remarkable people and cultures everywhere we go because we know that connecting with other strangers in strange lands brings out the best in us—and them.
We have no doubt that this event is not for everyone, nor should it be; it is that unique, memorable, and extraordinary. And not everyone is. But there is no doubt in our minds that this event is life-changing for those who do participate in it. Our travelers not only have more fun than they thought possible on an utterly unique, worldwide travel adventure, exceeding every expectation; they also learn things about the world, and themselves, that they never imagined. You will be a changed person by participating in The Global Scavenger Hunt.
This event will help you recapture the thrill of travel—some say the nostalgia of travel, whatever that means. It will surely refill your memory banks and replenish your soul with daily doses of sunrises, sunsets, markets, natural beauty, WOW world-class sights, exotic festivals, meeting engaging people, and sometimes helping others help themselves. Trusting strangers in strange lands does that to you. We hope that when each event is over, our travelers will understand how fragile and connected we indeed are and how much alike we all really are! Indeed, our commonalities are much more significant than our differences.
The three weeks you will spend traveling around-the-world with us will be forever etched in your memory. You’ll be able to relive these memories with your partner, children, grandchildren, family and friends. You will not only be a richer person for it, and you might even become famous by being crowned The World’s Greatest Travelers™!
And we will personally take care of you. Our event offers you the most seamless, hassle-free, carefree, worry-free, and safe adventure-of-a-lifetime. For three weeks, we will transform your life. Leaving the daily routine and grind behind, and taking on an entirely different dimension, to places you have only dreamed of going. You will be thoroughly engaged fish-out-of-water travelers learning to trust strangers in strange lands. We promise you that you will never travel the same way again. And, the chances are, you will want to do our once-in-a-lifetime adventure again.
Of course, at the same time, we feel we ought to be give something back to the world…to do some good. So, aside from taking you in the travel adventure of a lifetime, if you wish, we will help empower you to help raise both consciousnesses and funds for our GreatEscape Foundation. Whose twin noble efforts: building co-ed elementary schools in places of need and dispersing equally empowering micro-loans, that help make the world a better place. We trust that you will share in our enthusiasm.
So…come and join us—say a hearty yes to adventure! The Global Scavenger Hunt has become an annual international phenomenon. It is indeed the world travel championship. The first-ever international yearly competition designed for real travelers to test their skills against other equally passionate and talented travelers…but it is so much more.
Being small-town hicks and old-school travelers, we will always keep our promises to you. And stay true to our most cherished philosophies of having fun and doing some good simultaneously.
Thank you for your time. As always, we welcome any questions, queries or comments.
Please feel free to write me anytime at: gsh [at] globalscavengerhunt.com
William D. Chalmers
Event Director (aka The Ringmaster)
The Global Scavenger Hunt™
Who We Are?
The Event Director – William D. Chalmers (aka The Ringmaster)
Raised in Ontario, Canada, and educated at universities in Canada, the United States and England, Bill is happily married and the proud father of two children (Petra 25—Go Leiden, and Lucca 16—Go Generals). He splits his time between home and constant traveling. Bill has circumnavigated the globe on eighteen separate occasions, stepped foot in over 140 countries (Okay, a few toes!), and was dubbed the “World’s Greatest Traveler” by National Geographic Traveler in April 2002. The winner of the 1989 HumanRace—an around-the-world race using public transportation—he won the event in 17 days, collecting the $25,000 first place prize. He is a former Cold War-era summit groupie who has hiked in Borneo orangutan rehabilitation centers (Who knew they had drug problems in Borneo?); searched for black rhinos and Bengal tigers along the Nepal-India border (On a really big elephant!); reenacted Roman gladiator scenes in Tunisia (He was spared!); and canoed to the world’s highest waterfall Angel Falls (Someone forget to turn it on that day!). His favorite place in the whole wide world remains the undisclosed location known only as “Bob’s dock”!
The author of: the 2022 novel Lost, and Found, and nonfiction “A Blind Date With The World” (2000), “On The Origin of the Species homo touristicus: The Evolution of Travel from Greek Spas to Space Tourism” (2011), and “America’s Vacation Deficit Disorder: Who Stole Your Vacation?“ (2013). Bill is a professional photographer (National Geographic among others) and an international travel speaker, and a regular op-ed contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times and the American-Statesman, on the weighty social issues of the day. He writes at Oped Haiku on Substack and was a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and currently writes on Substack. For the last two decades he has served as the Event Director for the world’s only real around the world travel adventure competition known as The Global Scavenger Hunt™.
In previous incarnations, Bill served as a legislative assistant to a Member of Congress (1983-85) and then as an advisor to a global entrepreneur (1986-92), until he became a political consultant to numerous trade organizations and elected officials, including: The President of the United States, United States Senators, US Members of Congress, the Governor of California, and a multitude of state representatives and ballot initiatives (1993-99). Bill retired from consulting challenges in 1999 to devote full attention to his children, philanthropy efforts, writing, and his annual international travel event.
The Event Coordinator/Media Liaison – Pamela L. Chalmers (aka The Transactional Elf)
Raised in Southern California and educated in Denver, Pamela was overwhelmed with the friendliness of Coloradans and claims that’s where she learned to smile. Happily married and proud mom (mother sounds too formal) of two (yes, the same two mentioned above), Pamela is the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Follower” (she even followed Bill in the bio section). Having visited over 65 nations (She is working on her own type of century club…if you know what I mean …), she loves to travel and explore new places, and is working on a photo book about local markets—because of all their life and color…and that’s where the locals hang out. (The project is in its fourth year of development! Ouch…) The people-person of the dynamic duo, Pamela has served as the event coordinator since its creation.
Having majored in art history in university (after economics and statistics failures—okay, do you really count it as a fail if you don’t show up?) was the first notable life changing moment that Pamela said, “Life is too short.” An unanticipated successful career followed as a political consultant to the leaders of California having worked with Governors, Senators, Treasurers, and leadership in both legislatures, along with assisting several non-profit organizations.
Her next “Aha” moment was when she realized that taking a month off to teach children English in southern Italy and travel meant that her consulting business would still be there when she returned…and that she wasn’t so important that the world of politics would come to a crashing halt with her departure. Indeed, a life changing month that was all about children, family, food (it was Italy of course!) and falling in love (yes, to the guy above)
Awkward Personal & Travel Questions Answered by William D. Chalmers:
Hometown: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Dad, husband, handyman, writer, professional traveler
Favorite destination: Bob’s dock. (Not saying where it is!)
What question do you hate answering? The previous question…and I get it a hundred times a year. Stop it, please!
How long have you been traveling? Since I was 3…days old, that is…when I crossed my first border!
Countries visited? I stopped counting at 100 in 1999—it is now all about quality, not quantity.
The place that you are dying to visit? I am planning to circle Madagascar by sailboat at my earliest possible convenience.
How often do you travel? On average, once a month. I have visited about a dozen countries a year since 2000.
The best trip you ever took from beginning to end? Hmmm…Good one!…My next one.
Bizarre travel rituals: Hmmm…I never take the first hotel room offered to me—there is always a better room.
In-flight relaxation regime: Breathe deeply, eye masks, headphones and window seats. Occasionally I hold a stranger’s hand on takeoff.
Always in your carry-on: Moisturizer, lip balm, nuts and reading material.
Concierge or DIY? DIY.
What cheers you up? Happy hour…My kids. Mutual smiles…but mostly Happy Hour!
Loyalty club preferences? Funny, when has a corporation ever been loyal to me?
Best travel skill? My confidence gained from decades of experience.
See it all or take it easy? See it all…usually before lunch.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten? It was at a cruise ship buffet…No, really, it had to be harkal in Iceland (fermented rotted shark meat)…an acquired taste that I have yet to achieve.
What superpower do you wish you had? Hmmm…Teleportation (Nightcrawler).
Drive or be driven in foreign destinations? Drive.
You are condemned to die; what is on your last meal menu? Easy: A bottle of Barolo, caprese salad, mushroom risotto and cold cracked crab. A dulce de leche espresso for desert—and goodbye cruel world.
The most off-the-beaten path you have been? La Gran Sabana region of Venezuela. Pre-Cambric weird.
Biggest travel pet peeve? Utopians who always think something is better somewhere else. And braggarts who always try to one-up your travel story.
Are you interested in space tourism? No way; no good restaurants—not to mention the nasty turbulence.
Last photo you took with your phone? A standing desk I want. It was so great…made out of antique ironwood.
Culture in the world that most resonates with you? I love the Japanese but I must say the Italians have my inner lifestyle down pat.
Hunter or gather? Gatherer. I grew up hunting and fishing and can’t do it anymore.
Any place you don’t want to go to? Lagos, Nigeria…ever again.
Favorite boat ride? Irrawaddy River from Bhamo to Yangon, Myanmar.
Most overrated country? Hmmm…so many to choose from: UAE, Singapore, Texas.
What six guests would you invite to your dream dinner party? Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruise, Mary Magdalene, Stephen Hawking, Harry Houdini and Oscar Wilde.
What is your best karaoke song? Rock the Casbah by The Clash.
Do you have a travel collection? Yes, too many to mention. Hotel stationery, for one.
Ever seen a UFO or a ghost traveling? A ghost once…I think!? In an old hotel in San Francisco.
Best hotel you have ever stayed at? Oriental, Bangkok. They anticipate your needs—well.
Do people take trips, or do trips take people? It depends if you are consuming or open to adventure and serendipity.
The oddest place you spent the night? With swarms of mosquitoes and black flies near the Arctic Circle.
Ever had any travel-related experiences where you almost died? Really!? That’s like asking a porn star if they’ve screwed anyone lately? Yes, I have; can we now move on?
Favorite pizza toppings? Mushrooms, onions and pepperoni. Crispy, please.
Biggest culture shock you can remember? Christmas in Marrakech, 1980’s.
Night owl or morning lark-type? Night owl.
Which celebrity would you let your spouse have a “one-night-only-hall-pass-date” with? Hmmm…you’d have to ask her. What about me?
The pearly gates beckon; what question do you most fear from St. Peter? Did you do all you could have?
Most annoying nationality of any travelers? Canadians…again, they are just so damn polite. Sorry ’bout that.
Travel book you most wish you could have “lived through?” The Man Who Would Be King novella by Rudyard Kipling.
You have won the lottery; where do you want to live? I feel like I have won the lottery, so I would still be where I am.
What’s the best thing about your job? Watching other people react to situations I arrange. I guess I am a global voyeur.
If money was no object, where would you go for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Breakfast: Café Pasqual’s in Santa Fe; Lunch: on the deck at Ristorante De Pisis in Venice; and dinner: at Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo.
What three things would you bring to a desert island? A hat, bottomless rum libations, and my wife.
Worst ride on the back of any animal? I hate camels.
Most embarrassing TV appearance? So many to choose from…this below golden nugget that took place at 6:45AM one morning in LA ranks high or low…:
Best/Worst take-home souvenirs? Best: Regional sauces; Worst: Everything made in China.
Best/Worst airport? Best: SIN (Singapore). You can go anywhere! Worst: LHR (Heathrow). Words cannot express my frustrations there.
Worst international drivers? Canadians, they are just so damn polite. Sorry.
Your single web travel resource? Google Maps.
They say we are measured by the enemies we make: which enemies are you most proud of? United Airlines and Hilton brands…just terrible and should be shone at all costs. Throw in USA’s other two legacy airlines too – Delta and American – whose service is just abysmal compared to other global airlines. Just terrible. I wish the average flier knew how bad they really were.
One of your guilty pleasures is? Playing Hearts online. I shoot the moon a lot!
Aside from your spouse, who would be your perfect travel companion (living or dead, real or fiction)? Indiana Jones. He drinks and laughs at himself and knows stuff. Or maybe Will from Newsroom, ditto. Or Salma Hayek?
The worst grade you got in school? I earned (sic) a D in high school sociology. Ironic really.
Shower or bath? Shower.
Aside from the basics (passport, credit card, smartphone), what three items are must-bring things for you? Music, reading material and bathing suit.
Travel hero: Nellie Bly—she was kick ass.
Weirdest thing seen on travels: Oh geez…India at any given moment.
Best hotel amenity: 24-hour stays. Rooftop pools.
Favorite childhood travel memory: Looking out the window of a 747 crossing the country when I was ten.
I dream about meals at…? I am a lucky guy because a lot of my dream come true…Nobu (HKG), Da Michele pizzeria (NAP), Typhoon (LAX), Tamarind (LHR), Bukhara (DEL), Praga (MDZ)…
Everywhere I go, I check out the…? Local markets. It is life personified.
When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by…? Keeping my eyes open, asking lots of questions, and bravely walking out the front door of my hotel and just start wandering.
I always bring home…? Coins, stamps, currency. Regional spices/sauces. Art.
If I never return to…? , it’ll be too soon because…? Dubai…because it reminds me of the worst of Las Vegas.
That infamous incident of 2009. Does it still haunt you? No…water under the bridge. I learned my lesson. I hope they did.
Any travel regrets? Hmmm…I did not go to Syria when I had the chance…all that fantastic history has been destroyed, gone, rubble.
I travel for the…? The corny romantic nostalgia of adventure; you just never know who you will meet or what will happen next. For sweet serendipity, I guess.
You are organizing a dinner party. What three (dead or alive) travelers do you invite? Unforunately, my heroes are all dead. But, first would be 30-year on-the-road traveler Ibn Battuta, a true adventurer and curious scholar. Next would have to be Marco Polo, a colorful story-telling raconteur–what was true and was fiction? Who knows. Then I would ask Alexander the Great to drop by… he was not only a die-young party animal, but an acute sufferer of wanderlust.
Rapid fire, state your preferences, Bill: Half empty or Half full? Email or IM? Regular or Ruffles? Dog or Cat? Plane or Train? Celtics or Lakers? 747 or A380? Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky? Private or Public school? Aisle or Window? Paris or London? Coke or Pepsi? Left or Right? Olives or Twist? Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter? Stay or Go? Coffee or Tea? Chinese or Italian? Letterman or Leno? PC or Mac? Sean Connery or Daniel Craig? Pizza Hut or Dominos? Cream or Sugar? Stuff or Experience? Facebook or Twitter? Boxers or Tighty-whities? Prepare or Wing it? Church or State? Interventionists or Isolationists? Save or Spend? Zimbabwe or Zambia? Soul Train or American Bandstand? Really…shit…okay… Full, E-mail, No opinion, Dog, Plane, Lakers–18 championships, baby!, 747, Tolstoy (tough one), Public, Window, Paris, Neither, Left–just on principle, Twist, Lord of the Rings (not even close), Go, Coffee, Italian, Aren’t they both dead?, Mac, Sean Connery, Neither, Neither, Experience, Twitter (with reluctance), Neither, Prepare, State, Interventionist, Spend, Zambia, Soul Train (I am a Motown-raised boy)…
Where are you going next? I can’t tell you…it is A Blind Date with the World.
Closing travel tips or sage advice? Three things: Never ride an elephant in shorts. Don’t fly in a single-engine aircraft in Alaska or at nighttime in Africa. And get as lost as possible wherever you go.
Awkward Personal & Travel Questions Answered by Pamela L. Chalmers
Hometown: Southern California.
Occupation: CFO of GSH, Political Consultant, Mom and Cookie Maker.
Favorite destinations: Just about anywhere in Italy, Burma, Iguazu Falls (Argentinian side) and Barcelona, but honestly a tough question with so many favorite moments in destinations.
Dying to visit…spot in the world that you haven’t been to yet? Cuba, before it’s loved to death.
How often do you travel? Not often enough.
Countries Visited? 66…and frankly, it pisses me off that the event has been to more countries (85) than I have!?
Bizarre travel rituals: I’m not bizarre.
In-flight relaxation regime: One of those people that are hugely disliked because I fall asleep as soon as they turn the engines on. I’m already relaxed because I’m going away.
Always in carry-on: Toothbrush, socks, shawl…unless my son is with me, then I’m a walking Sherpa.
Concierge or DIY? DIY
See it all or take it easy? Combo!
What natural ability do you wish you had—gills or wings? Wings, most definitely! Being from LA, want to fly above the chaos.
Drive or be driven? Be driven…too focused driving, so I can’t look out the window.
You, unfortunately, have been condemned to die, but fortunately, you get to have any meal in the world before you go. What is your menu? Easy! Cheese fondue…champagne, guacamole, chips, and key lime pie for dessert.
What kinds of shoes do you wear? Sadly, as a baby, I wore shoes attached to a bar (probably the reason I look funny when I run, if and when I’m allowed to run); then high heels in my 20s, and now I’m happy barefoot.
Your biggest travel pet peeve is? Cold hotel showers.
Would you be a space tourist? No way!
Any place you don’t want to go to? Due to war, I will stay away from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine for the time being.
What is your best karaoke song? My 2nd grade teacher said I had a lousy singing voice, so karaoke isn’t my thing.
Oddest place you have ever spent the night? Does Fraternity house count?
What are your favorite pizza toppings? Artichoke hearts and prosciutto.
Which celebrity would you let your spouse go on a “one-night-only-hall-pass-date” with? He’d probably like me to say Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz, but going with his old desire, Jessica Lange, because she is old now, and I don’t think he’d want to go.
Most annoying nationality of any travelers that you have run across? Chinese…very pushy, literally pushy.
You have won the lottery, now tell us where you want to live? Italy.
What’s the best thing about your job? I travel the world for a living…not a great living, but a living.
If money was no object, where would you go for lunch or dinner? Japan for sushi and sake.
Worst Ride on the Back of an Animal? Horse for a “sunset” ride…worst saddle sores!
Best/Worst Airport? Best-YVR (so quiet), LAX (congestion, loud).
Worst Drivers? Hmmm…China.
Your single travel resource on the web? Kayak.com
What is one of your guilty pleasures? Hotel spa 90-minute massage.
Aside from your spouse, who would be your perfect travel companion (living or dead, real or fiction)? No one other than my spouse is the perfect travel companion!
Worst grade you got in school was? F…I didn’t show up for the exam in Accounting II.
Shower or bath? It depends if someone is with me.
Aside from the basics (passport, credit card, smartphone), what three items are must-bring things for you on your trip? Lip balm, underwear, bathing suit.
Travel hero: Bill Chalmers
Best hotel amenity: L’Occitane verbena shower gel.
Favorite childhood travel memory: Either going to Colorado’s Black Forest in my Grandma’s motorhome or sitting on the hotel balcony in Aruba in the afternoon playing gin and eating shrimp cocktails and drinking mock Pina Coladas.
I dream about my meals at…? Bukhara, Delhi…love the lamb and can’t seem to reproduce it?!
Everywhere I go, I check out the…? Local markets.
When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by…? Getting a map.
I always bring home…? Small bowls.
I travel for the…? Beauty of seeing different cultures, eating wonderful new cuisines and to see the differences and commonalities of day to day living.
Where are you going next? Good question…whining, bribes and threats just don’t work on me; and everyone tries!
Have a question you want to ask us, let us know at gsh [@] globalscavengerhunt.com.
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