Update To My American Travel Bucket List

Los Angeles, California

A couple of years ago I wrote a post detailing all of the travel experiences in my own country that I’d like to do. It was an effort to force myself to think more about travel in the US, instead of always focusing on far-flung destinations. Looking back at that list two years later, it’s frankly sad to see how little of it I’ve accomplished. I guess I’m just too mesmerized by those destinations that I perceive to be exotic and foreign. So, with all of that in mind here is my second attempt to force myself to consider more domestic travel by listing a few of the many amazing experiences found within the borders of my own country. Hopefully this time I’ll be inspired enough to start planning a few trips.

Note: I actually haven’t completed ANY of the items on my original list (sigh) so expect a few repeats here today.

Route 66

This was the first one listed on my old post and it still holds top place in my heart. Steinbeck once called it The Mother Road and from the Dust Bowl to the American Renaissance in the 1950s, this road has held a special place not only in the hearts of Americans, but of people around the world. It hearkens back to an era when anything seemed possible, when taking to the open road was an adventure and the fun truly was in the getting there. While Route 66 technically doesn’t exist anymore, it’s still possible of course to drive huge parts of it as you meander from Chicago to the pier in Santa Monica, California. Along the way are quirky roadside attractions, strange motels and national wonders that rank amongst the top in the world. Yes, I want to see and experience all of those things but I also want to reconnect with my own country, one I love dearly and of which I am fiercely proud. Just as people did in the 1950s and 60s, I want to experience a great American road trip and to discover aspects to the American experience that I don’t even know exist.

Continental Divide at Loveland Pass, Colorado


I recently attended a meeting in Colorado and although I was there for less than a day, I was reminded just how beautiful a state it is. I was last there three years ago, but that experience was also a brief one, which means I really haven’t seen a lot of the state. Driving along I-70 through the mountains, I was dumbstruck time and time again by the raw, unparalleled beauty and vowed to myself that I’d find a way to get back out there and soon. More than just the mountains though, Denver intrigues me as well for a variety of reasons. I like laid-back places and Denver seems to be one of those cities where everyone is welcomed and the living is good. I could be wrong, but I’m curious to find out for myself. So, hopefully, I’ll manage to travel back to Colorado, explore more of Denver before getting out into the countryside and see even more of the beautiful landscapes I recently caught a glimpse of.


Remaining 9 U.S. States I Haven’t Visited

Well before I adopted travel as my professional, I traveled a lot around the country both for work as well as personal enjoyment. As a kid I lived in a lot of different states and my parents’ aversion to flying meant long road trips whenever we went on vacation. Through all of those travels, I was lucky enough to visit most of the country. However, I haven’t been to every state and this year I am determined to see them all. On the list are: Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Kansas, Iowa, New Mexico, Nebraska and Wyoming. As you can see, most of them are situated next to each other in the northern-middle part of the country. There’s no specific reason why I haven’t visited these states, the opportunities just haven’t come up. While I’d very much like to see them all, Alaska holds a place higher up on that list than the others. There’s just something about Alaska, an allure that calls not only to me, but thousands of others from around the world. It’s America’s last outpost, our final terrestrial frontier and I’d love to spend some time exploring it.

Oahu, Hawaii

Pacific Territories & Possessions

I love Hawaii and have long ached to see some other Pacific possessions, many of which most Americans don’t even realize are (sort of) part of the country. The territories in the Pacific include: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands as well as many other reefs, islands and atolls that are dependent areas. The problem so far is that these places are all far away, small, hard to reach and expensive to do so. Still, I’m very curious about them, their cultures and how being (sort of) a part of the US has affected them – or not. This is a long-term goal, but one I hope to someday achieve.

So there you go, an update to the original list that I ended up ignoring any way. I do hope though that this time is different, that I can force myself away from the streets of France or the wilds of Africa and instead focus more on some of the many amazing places we have to offer right here in the US.

What are some places on your American travel bucket list?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

3 thoughts on “Update To My American Travel Bucket List”

  1. Great post! I agree that it’s easy to get caught up in foreign travel and forget that there are so many areas in the U.S. that deserve our attention. Route 66 has always been on my travel bucket list as well– I would love to experience the scenic views, quirky motels, and historic areas along this road. I hope you are able to visit some (or all!) of these places on your list!

  2. I was very much influenced by a kind of American culture via my long lasting love for horror movies and Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi novels, my healthy obsession with grunge music and the snippets of American life my immigrant family brought over when they visited us in Portugal (I don’t know anyone else my age in this country who owned a cabbage patch kid doll). So, my list would have to include Route 66 too (or what’s left of it), Seattle, somewhere offbeat and deserted in the South, and the state of Massachusetts.

  3. Just this afternoon, my mom (of all people) asked me where I wanted to travel next. I thought really hard, and replied: the general Idaho/Wyoming/Montana part of the country. Oh and also South Dakota. So basically the upper middle, where I’ve not yet been. Because getting there is difficult from the east coast (do I fly? If so, into where? And then I rent a car for what, a month? Or do I just suck it up and drive all the way there from the east coast?) But if I’m asked where I want to travel next, and my first answer is somewhere in my own country, don’t you think I should do that? Like soon? I do. And gee, my entire month of July is wide open. Hmmm.

    As for New Mexico–if you go, you must drive north from Santa Fe. It’s one of the most stunning drives no one ever told me about. Of course I wrote a post about it (which I won’t link here, because that’s rude). But if you do end up in that area, drive from Santa Fe to Ghost Ranch. Stunning.

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