America, the beautiful!
America- the beautiful.
America… the beautiful….
We’ve all heard this little jingle before, right? Right, Canada? I know you have.
Americans talk big about our country. We act like we are the Godfather of the Earth and every other nation bows to us and kisses our Floridian pinky finger.
36% of people in the US have passports, according to the State Department.
That leads me to believe at least 34% of Americans have traveled internationally… at least once. That’s not a huge amount, especially considering that it’s estimated that 76% of UK citizens have a passport, and this seems to be the standard number amongst citizens of other countries.
However, traveling abroad is a commitment. It’s a big step for many people. It can be a financial burden, it puts some people at risk for losing their jobs, and many people just can’t tolerate flying. So, as unfortunate as it is to know that at least 64% of Americans have never been outside the U.S., I would be a tad pretentious to claim or act as though this is shameful.
What I do find more shocking is that the average American has only been to 12 states. While it is true that some of the factors that keep people from flying abroad apply here, as well, I think there’s more to it. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t wanted to travel abroad. As in, not everyone cares about traveling everywhere in the world, but everyone has a dream destination in Europe or Asia or just wants to check out Antarctica. If asked where they want to see in the States, it seems people become less enthusiastic. Why is this?
Are mountains in Malaysia more beautiful than those in Montana? Is the trolley in Turkey more exciting than the one in Tennessee? I think we’ve convinced ourselves that something is more worthwhile if we have to travel 12 hours to see it. The more we can dream and invent a place, the more magical it must be. We romanticize.
I would like to erase this way of thinking! Traveling within the States can be just as
as anywhere else you’re considering visiting.
You can find amazing eats in the most unexpected places! Vegan food isn’t always the easiest cuisine to find, but ask around enough, and you’ll usually find something. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to bring some backup food or snacks… just in case.
I prefer the simpleton’s way of travel- through Couchsurfing, Megabus, and camping. It’s usually cheaper than hotels and airplanes. Unless, of course, you’re like me and disaster and chaos always find you. In which case, it can become pricey (i.e. phone smashing, bad housing, etc….) Never underestimate cost! Better to be prepared for an emergency or a personal freakout than not.
Money aside, you get to feel the culture and life when you stay with a resident and live like a local. Maybe you’ll have the luck I had in Chicago and find a host who KNOWS how to have a good time!
There’s also camping! Although I’m by no means an expert at camping, this was a great option while doing a road trip through upstate, New York. Maybe do a test run with your tent if you’ve never used one before. They’re not difficult, but can be confusing.
Note in my photo below the tiny fire. Thanks to my travel buddy, we didn’t have to suffer in the cold. We had an inch of fire to heat us and light the way. If not for that darn rain….
Tip: Sweaters and rainy day amusement. Both, very important.
Be sure to bring your curiosity and enthusiasm for new things! Completely unexpectedly, on another trip with the same buddy, we came across a great music venue. We decided to go in and check out the music scene in Atlanta. That’s when we heard Yacht Rock Revue for the first time. Super fun show! We made this into a habit; discovering a Led Zeppelin tribute band, a heavy metal show, and several punk rock venues. Complete with dirt, disease, and lots of booze!
You never know what you’ll come across….
What I discovered was that many people are more kind, generous, and patient than I ever expected strangers to be. There were certainly times of exhaustion, fear, and homesickness, but it’s true that you never get the chance to live if you don’t go through the good and the bad! Not every experience was perfect or ideal, but with an open-mind and adventurous spirit, I have seen and done SO much!
Not only have the people been amazing, but I’ve also been to some fascinating and fun museums, discovered great music along the way, and met some really adorable animals!
You might come across an enthusiastic and stylish protester at a Martin Luther King Jr. Rally in Atlanta.
Plenty of cities in the United States are empty and ugly and uninteresting. That’s a fact… anywhere you go in the world. Taking the risk and seeing what satisfaction, beauty, and thrills you can find may awaken and enliven you, though.
Come check out America, Americans. America IS beautiful, and it’s waiting to be seen!
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