For many Americans, dream trips involve far-flung international destinations. Traveling thousands of miles from home to a foreign land just seems more exciting. You get to experience a new culture, sample unfamiliar cuisine, and of course, get that all-important passport stamp to add to your collection.
A trip within your own country just can’t compete with that. The food is the same, the history is shared, the language is (usually) easily understood and you don’t even have to exchange money. There’s nothing exciting or exotic about that. Or so you may think.
But travel around your own country with open eyes and an open mind and you may realize that the good old US of A isn’t as homogeneous as you thought. Approach your homeland with the same anthropological curiosity and cultural hunger than you do to foreign lands and you’ll see that there may be as much to learn about different regions in your own country as there is places on the other side of the world.
One of my favorite sources for inspiration to explore more of the U.S. is William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways: A Journey into America. Down on his luck Heat-Moon takes off on an epic journey around the country, sticking only to the two-lane country roads called blue highways. Along the way, he finds solace in the road and in the characters he meets on his journey. He explores the cultural differences that can exist between people of the same country and paints a captivating picture of life in rural and small town America. If you’ve never had much interest in traveling the lesser-known routes of the U.S., just wait until you see the country through Heat-Moon’s eyes. I know that I can’t read the book without feeling an urge to hit the open road and discover my own America.