Traveling in the USA in the Age of Trump

You may have seen, if you were paying close attention to our social media, that I (Megan) just got back from a month long road trip down the East Coast of the USA. Traveling around America for a month, I have to admit, made me uneasy. Not because of safety, or the sheer amount of driving, but because this country as a whole right now, is not a country I am proud of.

>>>You can read Steph’s thoughts about traveling the world as an American in the age of Trump here

I didn’t exactly want to encourage tourism to this country right now, because people are being persecuted because of their differences, whether that is skin color, countryhood, religion, beliefs, or anything in between. People are fleeing extreme and unjust violence, religious persecution, and very dangerous situations to be met with a blunt wall of hatred and essentially “f*** yous”. This country was BUILT on people fleeing persecution, what makes us above it now?

This is not an America that I am proud to show off.

In the past, when things have gone awry, I’ve always taken the stance that I want to show that not all of America believes those things or that there are good and safe alternatives when another mass shooting hits international news.

Boston Harbor
Boston Harbor

At the end of the day, I was always proud of my country. Not in a blind way, I always saw its quirks but appreciated its pros.

Lately, I haven’t been proud.

So, how do I spend the next month writing about America on this blog? And pushing these great destinations out into the social airwaves.

How do I promote this country to tourists and foreigners and essentially the exact “different” people that so much of America is openly showing hatred towards? How do I show off the things that really do make America great when our government and many of our people are making it extremely obvious that they aren’t interested in allowing people who are “different” across our borders?

Martha's Vineyard: Oak Bluff's Harbor
Martha’s Vineyard: Oak Bluff’s Harbor

As I traveled down the coast and stopped in each city and town and suburbia along the way, I kept this thought in mind.

I pushed myself to have conversations, not arguments. To go into each situation with an open mind. I sought out immigrant owned businesses, tried to be respectful of every person’s thoughts, actions, and beliefs. I tried to be what I think being an American really means.

The whole trip I was showing around a couple of gals from the UK. I expected some backlash in certain places targeted towards the fact that they were foreigners. I never expected violence or anything like that, but definitely expected some snide remarks or unfriendly glances.To my surprise, we never got that. (We did get a couple funny comments about how we escaped from them during some of our more historical tours 😉 )

Downtown Nashville: Broadway
Downtown Nashville: Broadway

I don’t know if it was because I was with this girls or what, but I have to admit that I was constantly surprised by how friendly people were throughout the entire trip. I pride myself in putting forward a positive light at all times, no matter what my day is I don’t take it out on those I interact with. I know not everyone can do that, and that people have bad days, so even if someone is nasty to me, I still try my best to put on a smile and treat them with respect.

In my experience, America is usually a mix of light and darkness. And I have to say that this trip swayed that mindset for me.

Where I expected to see bigotry, extreme nationalism, sexism, and more, I was met with smiles, laughs, intrigue, and respect.

This is the America I am proud of and the America that I hope we can rebuild to become once again.

From the gentlemen at the Valvoline Instant Oil Change place outside of Lexington, KT who for once, didn’t talk to me like I was a dumb little girl and who didn’t try to sell me stupid shit I didn’t need just because I was a woman, to the countless people who worked at the properties, restaurants, or tour companies that we encountered who went out of their way to show off their cities, neighborhoods, towns, and people to us.

This was the America I wanted to show off.

So while, yes, we have a long way to go as a country, I’m happy to say that the individuals that make this country great are still there. Buried beneath the headlines and the negative political climate, is a country full of people from various social, political and religious upbringings who are all living together on one land.

Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island

Do I think that the press and politics should take it down a notch in favor of not overshadowing the individuals that actually do make this country great? My firm answer is no.

This country has seen an enlightening because of this government. An enlightening that will help to push this country forward in the rebuilding process, that is, if it is still standing in two years’ time. I say we keep exposing the injustices, the atrocities, the things that are ripping this country apart. Keep marching, keep paying attention and keep getting involved. Eventually, these individuals, I hope, can rise to the forefront again once all the work has been done.

I know this blog post has taken a few different turns and I appreciate you taking this journey with me. It’s something I’m still digesting and I’ll be digesting it for months to come, I think.

This country has a lot of history, and the East Coast certainly showcases that in many many many different forms. I hope you’ll read along as I share stories from my month traveling it!

Megan Stetzel

Megan is a girl that shouldn’t travel. She’s gluten free, allergic to everything else, falls off motorcycles, poops her pants, gets bit by stray dogs and yet she’s still been traveling the world. She's the co-founder and editor of Why Wait. Read More About Megan here.

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10 thoughts on “Traveling in the USA in the Age of Trump”

  1. Megan, can I tell you how much I love that you tackled this issue on your blog?! You’re my hero! I traveled through the Pacific Northwest and Canada last summer for 3 months and although I did encounter some racism (I’m African American), most of the people I met were really wonderful. That gave me hope. However, our government needs to do better. It’s sickening how much the hate has ramped up now with this administration. And putting children in cages is just deplorable. I have left the US to travel full time for a year or so. I really needed a time out. I wrote this (I do a newsletter instead of a blog) about the American expats I met in Sweden who talked with me about their decisions to leave the US. I hope you find it interesting.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Todra! I’m in a limbo currently, trying to decide if I am ready to stay in America and help with the fight or leave again. It’s difficult to know what to do. Thanks for the kind words! Happy travels!

  2. I would love to see you travel with a Hispanic or African American and see if the response is the same.

    1. Totally! That was in the back of my mind the whole time. That at the end of the day, we were all white women, and what it would have been like had we been anything else, I’m not sure the results would have been the same.

  3. I do believe there are a lot of great people in this country, but personally when traveling I try to avoid political convos because I don’t really want to get ‘into it’ with strangers (just my feelings – not saying that works for everyone).
    On the other hand, I have found traveling abroad that it is almost inevitable that upon hearing you are American that someone will not bring up Trump. I lived in the UK when and right after he got elected, and I heard about American politics on a daily basis there (and through much of Europe). Here’s hoping the tides change in 2 years or so.

    1. I disagree. I don’t avoid those conversations, I approach them tactfully. Instead of approaching people with a I’m right and you’re wrong or an attacking mentality, I let them share their beliefs and their thoughts, and I try to understand where they’re coming from. Right now, I call it a win if we can all find common ground.

  4. Really interesting read and love hearing your thoughts on this. I really appreciate that you’re still digesting and trying to figure out how you feel. As a Canadian, I feel like I’ve had a front seat to all of this Trump craziness without being directly affected. I remember reading all of these posts on July 4th about people being so proud and grateful and all of that and it really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s hard to figure out how we feel and how we should act these days. But like you’re saying, I think it gives us a greater chance to have conversations and ask ourselves the tough questions. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Totally agree completely. This was one of the first July 4ths where I wasn’t one of those people. Like I said, this isn’t a country I’m proud of. I’ve been in your shoes, having been out of the country for the majority of this presidency, this was one of my first experiences traveling around America during these times. It was eye opening.

  5. This was a great read! There are some things brewing, even today as I type this that rally in DC is happening later…but good people are still here on the East Coast. It’s good the news is focusing on the problems, and as you mentioned things will eventually change…but what’s been below the surface is now rising. Hopefully, it doesn’t set off too many fireworks.

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