About This Project
Here’s the elevator pitch version: My goal is to visit every state in the United States of America in 2017 and to document, on this blog and on Instagram, what it’s like to travel in this country in these frightening times.
Here’s the version you’d get if the elevator got stuck and you were trapped listening to me ramble until someone came to fix it.
On a personal level, I fell in love with domestic travel about a decade ago. As of January, 2017, I’ve been to 40 states and countless cities, towns, and in-between places. I have a long list of locations I want to return to, and others I want to see for the first time. My sense is that traveling around America, not to mention living in America, is going to get scarier and/or logistically more difficult in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. (Perhaps for all; perhaps for some; perhaps for some including me.) At worst, this may be my last chance to do a series of trips like this; at best, this year will still be one of the most, shall we say, interesting, periods in which to experience the various regions and cultures of the United States.
On a professional level, I consider myself first and foremost a travel writer. Although most of the work I do these days involves far less exciting subjects, travel is what I focused on when I first started writing professionally, and the dream of being able to transform journeys into words is what first motivated me to pursue writing as a career. Over the past few years, I had become increasingly frustrated with the lack of paying markets for travel writing that did not consist of hastily assembled listicles, blog posts sponsored by fashion brands, or absurdly luxurious hipster fantasies. So in 2016, I began exploring ways I could do the sort of travel writing I loved outside of the framework of traditional media.
But as I was contemplating what to do with my career, I didn’t fully take into account all the ways America would soon change overnight. After November 8, 2016, all my previous ideas felt meaningless and impractical. Plus, the kind of writing I’d wanted to do all along – the kind that’s less about telling you where you should go (as if you couldn’t decide that for yourself) and more about questioning how a place’s past intersects with its present, and what it’s like to be a stranger there – had become even more important. Travel writing, before it got reduced to round-ups of new restaurants in [insert trendy city here] and photos of very thin women wearing dresses on beaches, used to be how people learned about foreign lands, and their own land – something it was suddenly apparent that America sorely needed. That didn’t mean any publication was willing to pay me to do it, of course. But I decided: I don’t care if no one’s going to assign it to me. These are new and crazy days, and I’m going to do it myself.
Finally, I believe there are many forms of patriotism, and many forms of resistance. In my own probably insignificant way, traveling freely in my own country, as long as I can, is mine.
I’ve been writing professionally for over ten years. I’ve covered places, people, history, politics, business, home and personal organization, lifestyle, minimalism, Jewish culture, women’s issues, and more. My writing has appeared in a variety of publications, from hyper-local websites to national newspapers to international magazines. I’ve also done writing and editing work for non-profit organizations, corporations, and other outlets.
If you like reading the kind of travel narratives that you can’t get online or at a newsstand anymore, if you think writers should get paid for their work, if you want to support independent journalism (especially by women and minorities), if you’d buy a magazine that published this sort of travelogue, or if you just feel like being charitable, consider donating some money via PayPal. Or don’t. It’s a free country, sort of.