scorecardresearch Skip to main content

‘Don’t be afraid’ and other travel advice from Larry Fish

We caught up with the former chairman and chief executive officer of Citizens Bank to talk about all things travel.

Larry Fish and his wife, Atsuko, in Tuscany earlier this year.Pix Around Alessia/Pix Around

Larry Fish has traveled to more than 100 countries and all 50 states in the US, but the 79-year-old former chairman and chief executive officer of Citizens Bank still has destinations on his bucket list — including the Badlands of South Dakota and “every college venue that I haven’t been to.” The retired banker and philanthropist, who serves as chair of Bridge Over Troubled Waters, which provides services for at-risk youth in Greater Boston, and of the United States-Japan Foundation, travels with a group of friends to two or three college football games every fall. They have continued this tradition for nearly 40 years and have been to more than 60 college campuses. “Next, I’m heading to Lexington, Ky., to see Kentucky host Florida,” he said in a recent phone call, adding that he enjoys “the bands, the traditions, the campuses, the kids, and the football – oh, and the bars. … Every campus has got a college town and every college town has got some great bars.” Fish, who with his wife, Atsuko, has three adult children and six grandchildren, just returned from a hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies and plans to go to Japan with his wife (who was born and raised in Tokyo) at the end of October. And while his favorite countries are Japan, India, and Brazil, and his favorite cities are Venice, Kyoto, Jerusalem, Rio de Janeiro, and New York, Fish said he “loves going to new places and experiencing things for the first time.” The Harvard Business School graduate lives in the Back Bay, and has homes in Honolulu and West Falmouth, where his family congregates every summer. “I live in a part of the Cape that is very down-to-earth and low-key, so I appreciate the community we have there. And I love the ocean [and] swimming in the ocean,” he said. “I just love the wind and the smell and the freedom of the ocean.” We caught up with Fish to talk about all things travel.

If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go?


I would bicycle through the Badlands of South Dakota ending up watching the South Dakota State Jackrabbits host the North Dakota State Bisons because I love combining physical activity with natural beauty and, as my friends know, I’m a big college football fan.

Where was the first place you traveled to after COVID restrictions were lifted?


Japan. I couldn’t wait to get back. The country is so intentional, beautiful, different, and subtle. Amazing food, too.

Do you prefer booking trips through a travel agent or on your own?

I don’t care. Whatever is fastest at the time.

Thoughts on an “unplugged” vacation?

A villa in Tuscany, a safari in Botswana, my home at the Cape, anywhere in Hawaii. These days I unplug easily.

Do you use all of your vacation time or leave some on the table?

I’ve been retired from full-time work for 17 years, and while I stay busy in the community, I probably travel six to eight weeks a year. Love getting going.

What has been your worst vacation experience?

I’ve never had a totally bad vacation. I like Austria and Switzerland less than many people. Like anybody, I don’t do well with airport delays or traffic jams.

Do you vacation to relax, to learn, or for the adventure of it all?


My ideal vacation combines everything — physical activity, culture, beauty, and, at the end of the day, comfort. I visited the Fogo Islands this past spring with my son and we got up close to massive icebergs, took long nature hikes, experienced Newfoundlander hospitality, and stayed at the amazing Fogo Island Inn. Had it all.

What book do you plan on bringing with you to read on your next vacation?

I’m not a big reader. I watch videos on the plane and stay active when I land.

If you could travel with one famous person/celebrity, who would it be?

A musician/poet — [Bob] Dylan, [Bruce] Springsteen. ... But my first choice would always be family.

What is the best gift to give a traveler?

Share stories. There’s nothing more fun than swapping experiences, adventures, [and] favorite places with other travel lovers.

What is your go-to snack for a flight or a road trip?

I try and eat as little as possible and drink as much water as I can while flying.

What is the coolest souvenir you’ve picked up on a vacation?

Prayer wheels from Tibet.

What is your favorite app/website for travel?

Don’t have one but I’m constantly searching, browsing.

What has travel taught you?

Dive in, explore some dark alleys, refresh your soul, immerse yourself in beauty, difference, adventure. … Travel is about lifetime experiences and endless learning.

What is your best travel tip?

Don’t be afraid. You won’t get sick. You won’t get robbed. My best experiences have been to places like Patagonia, India, Africa, the high Arctic, [and] the Peruvian Altiplano — places that many people find challenging.


Juliet Pennington can be reached at