TraveLinkSites talks today with Liz Froment of travel blog Two Weeks To Travel. Liz is currently making big waves in the adventure tour PR world on top of running many other interesting projects. Here she tells us all about her travels throughout her native USA and recommends a mountain of cools things to see and do.
1. Hi Liz! Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your experience travelling in the USA?
My name is Liz and I am the one woman show behind http://twoweekstotravel.com, my site is geared towards those corporate type folks who love to travel and go on vacations, but don’t have much time due to job descriptions, so I try give some good advice and tips on how to make the most out of those two weeks! Born and raised in the US, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel through many parts of the country away from my native New England area. Of course, I’m also not opposed to hopping on a plane out of America, but I suppose that is for another interview. So, let’s go check out the US.
2. How does the USA compare to the rest of North America in terms of things to see and do, its food and its culture? Is it very similar to other countries or very different?
Well one thing we’ve got going for us over here in North America is there is a lot of places to go, cultures to see, and food to eat. I think all three of our main countries (and when I say main I mean the US, Canada and Mexico), can offer completely different things, depending on what you are looking for, we’re like one stop shopping over here. I’d say each country has it’s own personal flair, the US and Canada could be considered to be a bit more similar, but there are still many differences that go on between our countries. Canada is filled with (in my experience) some of the friendliest people on the planet, and they kind of have a cool dynamic having a similarly varied landscape as America does, traveling across the country can bring you a totally different experience. I’ve spend time in both Quebec and Montreal and love it, because it feels like you are off galavanting in Europe, when really you’re just across the border. Mexico has amazing food (I’m not talking about TexMex here), and so many things to do, from a the huge Mexico City, to gorgeous beaches in Acapulco to exploring ruins in the jungle. I don’t think you can really go wrong in visiting any of these places.
3. How much money can someone travel around the USA for? What are the greatest expenses? What things are relatively cheap?
I guess it sort of depends, coming from somewhere with a strong currency like the UK, your money will certainly go a lot further than other places. I’d say the biggest challenge to face at first might be transportation. America is huge, and unfortunately we don’t have a fully established rail system like much of Europe does and the rail system can also be pretty pricey, so if a traveler is looking to venture out of the cities and into more suburban or rural areas they might be out of luck getting there easily. That being said, we do have a massive highway system, so car rental and buses are options many travelers take. A well known bus company like Greyhound, for instance, offers a Discovery Pass, which takes you anywhere in the US or Canada on unlimited rides over a certain period of time (7 days through 60 days) for a few hundred dollars. Colin Wright of http://exilelifestyle.com/ is doing a US tour this way as we speak. So, if someone was looking to hit up a few unconventional places or travel a long distance across the country, a pass like that might provide a lot of value for them.
The next biggest expense In terms of funds would have to be lodging. Like many other countries we have a hostel system but they are primarily located along the East and West Coasts, if you want to do couch surfing, AirBnB or even check Craigslist, they are all available. We also have a pretty extensive National and State Park System which offer camping options as well for short money if you bring the gear. There are of course a million hotels, and once you get out of the big popular cities, a lot of chain hotels and motels that are actually quite affordable. But I’d say if you were coming for an extended period of time, hitting up the major cities, going out to bars and eating out most meals, you would certainly need a couple thousand bucks.
Relatively cheap, I’d say food probably. It’s not hard to swing round your backpack and find some sort of fast food in most places in the US, certainly not the healthiest of options, but it’s there and cheap. Also, I’d be on the lookout for farmers markets, a great way to find fresh quality stuff that usually isn’t too expensive. And of course grocery stores and supermarkets are all over the place, so rather than eating out every meal, spend $20 and get yourself a couple of meals out of that.
4. What are your favourite destinations in the USA and why?
I absolutely love the amazing beauty of the Colorado mountains or the Arizona desert, probably in many respects because its just so different from the landscapes I grew up with. But, right up there with Colorado has to be the rocky shore of Maine, I grew up on the beach there every summer, and there’s nothing like sitting on a old wooden deck overlooking the ocean with a beer and some steamers. I also really loved Puerto Rico, the old town is gorgeous and fantastic, and check out the rain forest and don’t forget to go night swimming in the bio-luminescence bay. Admittedly, I am not a huge city girl, so the places I love tend to be more nature driven and more laid back. Key West is also a great place to visit, the atmosphere is so much fun, tons of fresh seafood, and the best way to get around is on a scooter. I have to give a shout out to my native Boston, I can’t recommend it enough for a visit, college town, tons to do, a great history, but at the same time it’s really small and walk able, and also very pretty. I’ve heard many people tell me it reminds them of Europe.
5. What cultural activities and events would you suggest everyone seeing or taking part in while travelling in the USA and why?
I’d say for sure, get out to a sporting event. It can be professional, college or even a local thing, it’s so much fun to go. I try to make it a point to go to a MLB baseball game in every city I hit, it’s a great way to be outside and enjoy a bit of true American culture.
I had friends visiting from the UK a few summers ago, and I took them to a minor league baseball game. Trying to explain the game to them was probably how my parents felt when I was a kid clumsily swinging youth baseball bats, it was hilarious, but we had a great time.
Also check the schedules of things that are going on in smaller towns. For instance, every summer Newport, Rhode Island hosts a summer polo series, that is a really all day tailgating event in beautiful weather. We still have no idea how to play polo, but it’s fun to watch. I’d also check out festivals, we’ve got it all here, brew fests, blueberry fests, bbq fests, music fests, film fests, etc. I’d also say get away from the touristy stuff, do a bit of wandering, talk to some people, see what their recommendations are, there is a lot of great stuff that aren’t found in guide books.
6. What is your favourite thing about travelling this country? What is your least favourite thing?
I’d have to say that my favorite thing about traveling in the US is the natural beauty. I highly recommend trying to take a road trip in the US, it doesn’t have to be all the way across country, but it’s sort of made to be driven, and I love all the wacky stuff you will come across on the side of the road in some places. Since the country is so big, there is a complete variety of scenery, temperatures and wildlife to be had. You can hop on a plane in cold and snowy Boston in January, and three hours later be on the beach in Florida. I’ve spent much of my time growing up here on the East Coast, so for me it’s always a thrill to head West. Once you get around the US, you can really appreciate the wide open spaces of the country, even a cornfield in Ohio can be awesome!
Least favorite thing, I’d say I wish it was easier to get around. In my prior life in corporate finance, I spent a lot of time commuting between Boston and NYC and more often than not would take Amtrak (train system) back and forth. I really enjoy the pace of train travel, that you can get up and walk around, there’s a food car (yes, they serve beer), WiFi and of course plugs for whatever electronic device you need. Sometimes it’s easier to fly, but flights can really add up here, at this point I’d say if you can get anywhere far from home for under $250, it’s a good deal.
7. What things do you focus on most when you blog about this country? Why do you choose these things?
The biggest thing I focus on is getting out there and exploring the US. There are some really amazing things going on here, there is stunning nature, really cool small towns and friendly people. I think many times when we think about travel we don’t think a lot about our own countries, or even more so, places in our countries that aren’t the standard vacation spots. There is a lot more to the US than Florida, Vegas, LA and New York, so I encourage people to make small trips outside of their area and see whats up.
8. What’s one thing you can’t travel around the USA without?
Ha, my debit card! I rarely, if ever, use cash here. Maybe it’s just easier than going to the ATM all the time, or it could be just a way of life now, but I’d make sure I have some sort of plastic handy. I’d also say in a real sense travel with an open mind, the US is huge, full of diverse people, opinions and places, along the way I 100% guarantee you will run into someone who doesn’t agree with every gem that falls out of your brain, so go with the flow. Listen to others and learn something. On a practical note, I would never go anywhere without a camera, there are way too many photo opportunities to let that go to waste!
9. If you could have lived anywhere else in the country where would it be and why?
Hmmm….I’ve thought about this a few times, and I’d have to say the times I have thought about moving, I usually land on either Colorado or the Pacific Northwest. Both have a laid back lifestyle and a lot of great natural beauty. They also have pockets of really cool thinkers and embrace my hippy loves of home brews and farmer’s markets.
10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone had told you before you started travelling in the USA what would it be?
I’d say just explore, don’t always go to the places that everyone else does. There are a lot of places with so much to offer that rarely get seen because they are not planted in any Top 10 Places to See in the US lists in some guide book or on a website. After a few years of traveling, I learned that my own style is to go slow, try to find some off the beaten path stuff and just relax. I used to run around like a maniac trying to tick everything off some imaginary list, travel does not have to be like that if you don’t want it to be.
Massive thanks to Liz for her amazing photos and even better tips on what to see and do while travelling The USA. Make sure you check out her blog Two Weeks To Travel. You can also follow Liz on Twitter here.