Welcome to today’s “Where Is…?” – an interview feature where I get to speak to fellow wanderers about where they are in the world. This week I have invited the lovely Eva Explores on board – a solo female blogger I’ve been following for some time now. I’ve particularly enjoyed tuning into her Snapchat for daily updates on what she has been up to. Over the last year she has been to some incredible places, most notably across Central America, and most recently she has been roadtrippin’ across the USA, which she is is going to tell us all about today!
Welcome to “Where Is…?” Eva! How was your road tip across the USA?
My road trip around the USA started with my younger brother asking me if I could drive the car we share out to California from Cincinnati, Ohio. I have always wanted to drive across the country, so I said yes immediately!
The first 15 days of my road trip, I drove by myself from Cincinnati down to Austin, Texas, and then West via Route 66 to Los Angeles, California. Once I got to California, I met my brother and we spent three weeks exploring the state together before taking one week to drive back across the country to our hometown of Syracuse, NY.
I loved seeing the diversity that my home country, the USA, offers to travellers. I truly saw this country through a new lens. From different foods to different landscapes, this road trip really covered the gamut of what there is to do in the United States.
What is the weather like at that time of year?
Honestly, the weather was not at all what I expected for springtime in the Southern States! I packed a lot of shorts, tank tops, and summer dresses. Unfortunately, it was chilly most of my trip, and I found myself way under-dressed. If you’re going to do a road trip in the USA during the spring months, definitely plan for all weather: cold, rain, and even snow if you’re going to higher altitudes! There were some nice, warm, sunny days, but on the whole it was a bit cooler than I expected.
What kind of accommodation did you stay in along the way?
I stayed in a variety of accommodation styles during my road trip. Mostly, I utilised friends and family, Airbnb, and Priceline. This way, I was able to travel for 6 weeks at a relatively low price point.
The USA isn’t known for it’s budget accommodations, so I highly recommend Airbnb and Priceline. Priceline Express was especially valuable to me, as you can get a great deal on a quality hotel very last minute. Part of the fun of a US road trip is all the unique places to spend the night. My favourites were on Airbnb. I stayed in a gorgeous lavender house in Venice, California. An adorably decorated apartment in Nashville, Tennessee. A camper in someone’s backyard in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico, and even a Tiny House in Salt Lake City, Utah!
What activities did you get up to? What was your highlight?
Being that I love taking photographs, Route 66 was a definite highlight for me. I’d been wanting to drive along that Route for SO long, and it was really cool to fulfil a bucket list dream.
The kitschy, retro signage was particularly fun to photograph. My favourite destination that I visited was Austin, Texas. Everyone was so friendly (that good old Texas charm is NOT a myth) and I felt like I made friends in every store I popped into. Plus, southern food just can’t be beat.
It was also really special to be able to go on part of the road trip with my brother, as we don’t get to see each other too often. Yes, we had our squabbles, what siblings don’t? But singing together in the car on long drives and playing games ranking our favourite TV characters are among the top memories for me.
You must have stumbled across some pretty incredible places. Can you recommend any off-the-beaten-track things to do ?
I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of small towns that most people have never heard of, or would never consider stopping in. It’s easy to plan your road trip down to the last minute, but I recommend getting off the beaten path.
Take the scenic route, follow signs to an offbeat tourist attraction, or just get lost on purpose! You will probably find something unique that other tourists won’t get to see. Just make sure you fill up on gas before any spontaneous adventures! Some places that you don’t normally hear about that I would recommend: Hot Springs, Arkansas; Paris, Texas; Sutter Creek, California; Tucumcari, New Mexico; Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Do you have any other travel tips you would like to add for anyone planning a similar road trip?
Plan more time for your road trip than you think you’ll need! There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed for time on a dream road trip. Driving will take up a lot of your days, and that’s a good thing as you see a LOT on the road.
Make sure to factor in how exhausting spending even 4-5 hours driving is. When I did the solo part of my road trip, I only managed an average of 4 hours driving every day. That way I actually got to see the places I was going to. Also, road trips inherently involve lots of eating and then sitting on your butt in a car. It would be nice to intersperse that with hikes in some of the world famous National Parks (Grand Canyon, anyone?)
Where are you off to next?
I’m back home in Syracuse, NY for the summer. I’ve been constantly moving since leaving my stable life in New York City this past November, so it will be nice to stay put for a few months.
I have a lot of adventures in the works. My rough plan is to go to the U.K. in August (maybe I’ll see you there, Nikki??) to see the new Harry Potter play (yes, my nerd is showing).
Then, I will be exploring Eastern Europe a bit, since I’ve never been there. In October, I have already booked my ticket to TBEX Asia in The Philippines, which will be my first time setting foot in Asia as well. Lots of excitement on the horizon, so for now I’m focused on getting things together on the home front.
YES we should definitely meet-up when you are in London!
What three must-have items do you always carry in your backpack and why?
I’m a backpacker due to financial constraints, but I’m really an over-packer at heart. On my road trip, I did a poor job of packing. I had just returned from my 3 month backpacking trip in Central America, and had a couple days of turn around to pack what I would need for my cross country road trip.
I think I was feeling excited after only having roughly 14 clothing items to choose from during the previous 3 months, so I packed a LOT. On a longer road trip, I recommend packing one bigger suitcase with all of the things you’ll need. Then you can take a smaller overnight bag and pack it with only the things you will need for that night’s stay. Three must-have items for me are a journal to write things down, my laptop because I work on the road, and my camera to capture literally everything.
And finally, what has been your favourite destination so far?
This is probably the most cliche answer of all time, but I just don’t care. My all-time favourite destination is Paris. I should clarify: Paris, France. (No, not Paris, Texas, even though they do have their own mini Eiffel Tower). It was one of the first places I travelled to abroad, and it really captured my heart. Any place that has good cheese, wine, bread AND chocolate is an automatic win for me. I just really like to eat, what can I say?
If you’re a travel blogger and would like to take part in this guest interview series, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org