In May this year, I spent 5 weeks in the USA. The first week I was in New York visiting friends and being a wild tourist, then I picked up my rental car and drove it in anything but a straight line down to Miami. I drove 4225 miles all on my own. My route was as you can see below – as far west as Memphis and New Orleans, as far south as Key West.
I experienced SO MUCH during those 5 weeks. Most of what I saw and experienced already has or is in the process of being shared on this blog, but I thought it’d be funny to sum up this trip in a few numbers, good vs. bad about solo traveling in the US, and since the American food scene was also a very big thing for me to try out and experience: favourite and memorable meals!
Favourite & Memorable Meals
Double Shack Burger at Shake Shack, New York. (All 3 times I had Shack Burgers I had eaten them before I thought of photographing them.. they’re that good!)
Chocolate mousse & Strawberry Tower at Carlo’s, Hoboken. The chocolate cupcake from there was also AMAZING!
Steak with corn and mashed potatoes at Texas Roadhouse, Gatlinburg. Perfect meal before a moonshine tasting…
Pulled pork burger at B.B. King’s Blues Club, Nashville. Eaten while listening to a wonderful blues band and sitting right next to the stage.
Crab tacos at Joe’s Crab Shack, Nashville. I’ve since read that Joe’s is kinda looked down upon in the seafood world? Well, this giant meal made me very happy that night.!
Fried chicken with coleslaw and mac’n’cheese at Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken, Memphis. Eaten in my car because the location was full to the brim – ALWAYS go for the place with the queue!
Ribs at Rendezvouz, Memphis. So delicious – and the gentleman next to me at the bar bought me a beer because I moved so he and his friend could be there. Good night!
Strawberry and mocha chocolate chip ice cream at Leopold’s, Savannah. Worth ALL the waiting time in the heat!
Kobe Beef Spaghetti Bolognese at 915, Key West. Best darn spaghetti bolognese I’ve ever had.
Redwine in chocolate covered glass at Better than Sex, Key West. Totally something I wanna try at home..!
And the ‘Weirdest meal’ goes to: Pig Ear Sandwich at Big Apple, Jackson, Mississippi. Tasty enough, but super weird texture.
Funny thing is, only one of my favorite and memorable meals was also one of the most expensive – the Kobe Beef Spaghetti Bolognese, which is maybe self-explanatory. Otherwise, it was a couple of meals in New Orleans which unfortunately wasn’t quite to my taste. As you can tell, I didn’t go for the fancy restaurants on this trip! Chain restaurants and traditional, local American cooking was my aim. Honorable mentions should go to Five Guys burgers and shakes and a handful of super delicious tacos at various places in New York and again in Florida. Oh, and that magnificent strawberry cheesecake from Junior’s that I shared with 2 of my friends there and still had trouble finishing.
All in all, I ate 12 burgers, 5 steaks, 4 fried chickens and 5 mac’n’cheeses. I drank 14 beers, 4 cocktails, and 8 coffees. I attended 1 food tour, 30 museums and brought home 2 pints of moonshine. Why do I keep track of this? Budgeting, that’s why!
Any downsides to being a solo traveler in the US?
Being a solo traveler is mostly super awesome, and that is my honest opinion. But sometimes, oh how nice it would have been to have someone else to lean on. I do get some very stubborn headaches sometimes and it was NOT a whole lot of fun to still have to drive, sometimes for hours, and plan for the next day with a splitting head. Not being able to split the bill on accommodation is one of the reasons for the obsessive budgeting I mentioned earlier. And finally – I wish I would have had someone around to take my photo a bit more often. I know you can ask a stranger, but me also being an introvert, that’s not super likely to happen.
Did I learn anything?
But still, and most importantly: I had an AWESOME trip! And I learned a ton! I don’t think I’d want to do 5 weeks all on my own again – I was exhausted from planning and driving at the end of this – but another, shorter road trip through the US is most definitely in the future for me. Next time I think I’ll rather spend just 2, maximum 3 weeks driving, and only cover 2, maybe 3 states. Most of the states I passed through this time I felt I could easily have spent more time in, exploring the countryside around the big cities. I’ve been budgeting everything down to the last penny (which I’ll probably also post some time), so now I’ve got an excellent tool for figuring out what a trip to the US will cost next time. Also – traveling the US is not dangerous. Why everyone kept telling me to be careful was actually a bit weird – of course I’ll stay away from the bad part of town, guard my drinks and not walk home in the dark unless a local tells me it’s safe – as I would do anywhere else in the world! What I have taken with me from this trip is that Americans are generally very, very nice people. I met people at my hostels (which was 75% Americans, 25% rest of world in my experience), at Airbnb’s and at bars and restaurants. They were all so open, curious, helpful and friendly. Mostly so in the South, but still. Hope this post was entertaining – if not, at least you’re probably hungry now!
I would love to hear your comment down below! What has been your most memorable meal in the US? Your experience as a solo traveler in the US?
NYC Staple Foods from Coney Island to Katz’s Delicatessen
Postcard from Hoboken, New Jersey
Washington, D.C. in 2 Days: Not Just The Mall
The Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
An Artsy Afternoon in Asheville, North Carolina
Memphis: 2 Days in the Birth Place of Rock’n’Roll
Natchez, Mississippi: Antebellum Heaven!
The French Quarter, New Orleans Experience!
Jones Street, Savannah: Prettiest in the USA?
Wildlife Abundance in Circle B Bar Reserve, Florida