As we prepare to take off for a year, we have been carefully considering the kind of ideas we want to stand for and promote to others. We will be sharing, sharing, sharing and we want our message to be clear.
So what is our message, exactly?
We believe firmly in a few things surrounding this trip, and one of those things is the appreciation of traveling close to home.
Cole and I made the decision to explore the U.S. National Parks for a year. But in an increasingly global world where international travel is easier than ever, we could have easily made the (more popular in our age demographic) decision to backpack across Europe, teach English abroad for a year, or just hit the beach and bum for awhile.
We think all travel and exploration is amazing. As both of us have experienced on some level, international travel has incredible benefits and can be life-changing. So why are we deliberately basing our adventures right here in the U.S. of A?
Well, several reasons.
1. It’s our home, and it’s beautiful.
Regardless of how a person feels about America from a political standpoint, everyone can agree that the U.S. gorgeous. There is so much beauty to be discovered in our own backyard, and we want to help more people (especially people our age) to appreciate it.
Our National Parks are a blessing. Yellowstone was first established in 1872, the National Parks Service was officially formed in 1916, and today we have access to more than 84 million acres of protected land. (Source) Land where we can play, learn, and unplug. As one NPS park official told us, “Out National Parks are the envy of the world.” And with the millions of international tourists they attract every year, I can’t say I doubt him.
We will be exploring and sharing about places in the U.S. that prove a plane ticket is not required to find beauty and adventure. We have found them in a weekend in Arkansas. And along a road trip out west. And twenty minutes from our front porch.
To be clear, we’re not promoting the idea of remaining in the U.S. forever. We strive to travel as much as possible, to as many countries as possible someday. But we also know that most people don’t have the means to do that. We’re here for the people who aren’t sure how to find the adventures all around. We’re also here for the people who are traveling experts. We’re here for everyone, really.
And you know what’s cool? The parks are here for everyone, too.
2. There’s something for everyone.
From the purple mountain majesties to the amber waves of grain, there is truly a National Park for every taste. The sheer diversity of the parks is one of our very favorite things about them. Just to name a few, here are some of the things that can be found in the National Parks:
- Caves (Mammoth Cave NP is home to the longest cave system in the world and Carlsbad Caverns NP is the deepest in the country)
- Trees (the largest single-stem living tree in the world rests in Sequoia NP)
- Rock formations (2,000 natural arches can be seen in just Arches NP)
- Marine life (almost one-third of American Samoa NP is under water, and Dry Tortugas houses the third-largest barrier reef system in the world)
- Mountains (the highest point in North America can be found in Denali NP)
- Valleys (the lowest point in the western hemisphere is in Death Valley NP)
- Lakes (Crater Lake NP is the deepest in the U.S.)
- Waterfalls (300 in Yellowstone alone)
- Historic and prehistoric structures (27,000 in the Park system)
- Hot springs (the oldest protected area in the system is technically Hot Springs NP in Arkansas)
- Animals (the largest land carnivores in the world are the Alaskan black bears)
Considering there are currently 408 sites within the NPS system, absolutely everyone can #FindYourPark. It’s unfortunate that not everyone can travel abroad. But, thanks in part to the creation of our National Parks Service, everyone can have their own adventure here at home.
3. It’s achievable for the average traveler.
While Cole and I are overjoyed to have the opportunity to travel for a year, we do feel challenged and intimidated. Even traveling for short lengths can be scary. Planning can get complicated. Budgeting is usually stressful and time-consuming. Finding entertaining things to do can be taxing. Yes, the destination is always worth the work, but we realize that for most people, including us, traveling can be hard work.
Staying in the U.S. makes things a lot more doable.
From cost, to customs hassles, to language barriers and easily being able to use a cell phone, there are many logistical advantages of traveling close to home. The easier navigation and familiar systems will hopefully allow us to focus more on our experience and our soul-searching and less on our maps.
And, not to mention, our parents’ blood pressure will probably only double (rather than quadruple) with local travel.
Above all, we want to promote the idea that travel is for everyone. All travel is good. International travel is good. Local road trips are good, too. Adventure can be found around every corner of the United States, and we’ll be chasing it for us, but also for you. So you can go on a vacation across the country with your family. So you can find a new weekend campsite. So you can learn something new about how the United States preserves its most beautiful assets.
Read about our adventures, then go have some of your own.