• Franny the Traveler

12 Reasons USA Domestic Travel Matters amidst the Black Lives Matter Movement


Did you know that most Americans visit around 12 states in their lifetime and 10% do not actually visit another state?

As of 2017, there were about 4,000 members in the All Fifty Club, which was formed to recognize those individuals who have achieved visiting all fifty states. There are currently a little over 6,000 members who have been to at least 35 states in this Club, including travelers from other countries (which is Associate Membership). If we assumed all members were USA citizens, that is only 0.002% of the USA population that has traveled all 50 states! These stats unsettle me!


However, as a result of this pandemic, U.S.A. #Domestictravel is about to experience a surge. In a recent survey commissioned by the US Travel Association,


47 percent of respondents said that they were more likely to travel by car after the pandemic subsides, and 42 percent would likely choose destinations closer to home.

As an avid domestic traveler, this makes me smile! Why? For a long time, domestic travel was dismissed by many. Numbers don’t lie. When I think about the number of likes I get on a post for an international travel trip vs. a domestic travel trip, international travel always wins! Also, when I look at my Instagram feed, there is an overwhelming majority who are avid international travelers vs. domestic avid travelers. I am always super excited when I find a traveler who has a goal to visit all 50 states. I LOVE international travel, but I will always be a strong advocate for domestic travel. I actually wrote an article, “My Clapbacks for Domestic Travel,” where I address 5 common sentiments as to why people argue against domestic travel. 


This is why I decided to reach out to some expert domestic travelers who I know either IRL or through Instagram to share their thoughts on why #domestictravelmatters! IMPORTANT TO NOTE: I want to acknowledge that racism and anti-Blackness in the USA is one major reason why many people have not wanted to travel domestically. It is dismissive to ignore that legitimate concern. It is why I intentionally asked travelers from various backgrounds why domestic travel is important considering these racial injustices in order to provide a different perspective you may not have considered. Knowing that I have a voice and a platform to share that voice, I didn’t want to ignore that concern.


I decided to ask some of my favorite travelers their perspective on #USATravel! To break it down further, I asked: 

  • Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

  • Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent incidents of racial injustice?

Check the responses from

12 Expert USA Travelers!



Traveler 1: Robin of @50StatesbyFifty

30 States & Counting! 

Connect with Robin: Instagram | Blog



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

There is so much history and so much culture to soak up in all different parts of the US. It’s also great to be able to take a car or train to closer cities and not always have to fly. You can more easily go on long weekend trips! I want to visit all 50 states because there is so much to see and experience. From big cities to the rural countryside, to deserts, to mountains and beaches.  


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent events of racial injustice?

I think it makes it more important than ever to see and visit other places in the US. It can truly open your eyes to injustices that are happening around the country that you may not have realized or been properly educated about if they were not happening in the area of the country where you live. Seeing these things first hand can inspire people to take more action and make a positive change.

Traveler 2: Niqua from  @Travelingwithniqua

23 States & Counting! 

Connect with Travel with Niqua: InstagramYouTube  | Facebook



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

I have always deemed domestic travel to be as amazing as international travel. There is so much to see throughout the United States. My journey to 50 states was something personal for me, to be able to discover the hidden gems and explore each state was something I always was very interested in. I also wanted to showcase the United States on my platforms to encourage others! I have visited a total of 23 states! 


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent events of racial injustice?

Understanding and educating myself more on the history of America is one of the reasons domestic travel is important to me. There are many parts of history that I was never taught in school. Therefore, traveling throughout the US helps me to increase my knowledge!

Traveler 3: Elise from @Elise_explores

22 States & Counting! 

Connect with Elise Explores: Instagram | Blog



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states?

I love domestic travel because it’s less expensive and I feel more comfortable just going with the flow. Although  I will make a general itinerary, I usually just go with the flow. I also feel more comfortable being alone domestically vs when I leave the country. I want to visit all of the states because I just can’t imagine leaving this earth without experiencing as much of it as possible. I also love to experience the culture of different places. State/city-specific festivals, foods, and so on.


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent events of racial injustice?

For me it’s just something that I NEED to do! Lol. Initially, it was because I just wanted to experience every state in some way. To like just step foot in it for fun & because I love to explore. But more recently, maybe within the last year or so, the reason is that back in the day, I wouldn’t have been able to have the goal of freely visiting all states. To eat wherever I want, stay where I want, and do what I want! Probably would have needed a Green Book! So now it’s more like HA! I can do what I want and I’m gonna take advantage of that! 😁


Every time I think about visiting a place, I have concerns about racism. For example, if I wanted to go to Houston or Atlanta,  I probably wouldn’t think twice lol. However,  I would like to visit all states and that would include  Maine, Idaho, N. Dakota, S. Dakota...Honestly, I’m very nervous about visiting the states that don’t have a lot of diversity. In the past, I have been OK with traveling to various states. However, it’s still something that I think about. Also, when I go to restaurants in these states, will I be stared at or treated differently?! That’s a concern for me.

Traveler 4: Megan from @Adventuresbecause

Set foot in 39 States but 7 States Entirely! 

Connect with Adventures Because: Instagram



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states?

Domestic travel felt less daunting to start out as a solo traveler. I didn't have to worry about language barriers, transportation struggles, currency exchanges, or inadvertently being rude to other cultures. But when I realized how diverse our entire country is from landscapes to activities, to history and culture, I then fell in love with domestic travel. So, I set out to see all 50 states in their entirety for that exact reason. New York City doesn't represent all of New York State, there is more to Florida than Disney, and what the heck is in Oklahoma?! In my quest to see all 50 states in their entirety, I've been to 7: Utah, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Alaska, Colorado. However, I used to travel on tours for a living. Therefore, my count of states I've set foot in is 39


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent events of racial injustice?

I think domestic travel is important because as a white person, you need to have experiences outside of the bubble you were raised in. America has so much beautiful diversity that you could learn just as much about culture and history here as international travel. When you travel, even domestically, you are exposed to a wide array of people that have different perspectives than you because they've had different experiences. You get to engage in conversations and experiences that you never would have had if you never left your bubble. That is the beauty and magic of travel! Travel is vital to expanding a person's worldview because it expands their knowledge and perception of different cultures. The more someone travels, the more they are educated - and that's where change happens!

Traveler 5: Vanessa from @LatinoWorldTravelers

23 States & Counting! #50by50 

Connect with Latino Word Travelers:  Instagram | Facebook | YouTube



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

I love domestic travel because I can reach different locations in a short amount of time for most states. When I lived on the East Coast, I concentrated on visiting those states first. Now that I live on the West Coast, I’m looking forward to when things open up and it is safe to travel to these locations as well. Visiting all 50 states will be quite an achievement and definitely within reach. However, the main reason that I want to visit them all is because I am an epicurean who loves to eat and enjoys the delicious food of the locals!!! I have visited 23 states and counting! #50by50 


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent events of racial injustice?

As a lighter skin educated and world-traveled Latina, I recognize that I am very privileged. I want to use that privilege to change people’s perception of Latinos in this country. 


Traveling by myself or with friends looks very different than traveling with my husband who is a Black American. Normally, we are the only people of color in many spaces since we enjoy the finer things in life, but we try to stay unbothered despite the looks or mistreatment. We belong in those spaces and are here to stay whether others like it or not!

Traveler 6: Chanice from @Flywithqueenie

About 20 States!

Connect with Fly with Queenie:  Instagram | Blog | Facebook | Pinterest



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

I love domestic travel because it excites me to know that I have beautiful places to explore right in my own backyard without having to purchase a plane ticket, go through security, sit for hours, or use my PTO at work. Domestic traveling teaches me a lot about the place I live in so many different ways and it’s exciting to learn the different cultures that make up the United States because there is quite a lot. To be honest, I don’t count the places that I visit because I don’t look at it as a competition because I will visit the same place more than once. However, I believe it’s somewhere around 20 states


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent events of racial injustice?

I think domestic travel is important. Although we are facing racial issues, I refuse to let anyone limit the thing that makes me happy. You can design systems to keep me down, but the one thing you won’t take away is my ability to travel the world that my ancestors helped to build. I’m going to travel black and I’m going to travel proudly and explore the USA - periodt!

Traveler 7: Sandra from  @sj_torres

35 States & Counting!

Connect with SJ Torres:  Instagram | Twitter



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

The USA is so massive and geographically diverse, it would be a disservice to not explore as much of it as possible. From mountains to forests, to the desert, to swamps/bayous, there's so much to see! My goal of seeing all 50 states started out as a bucket list thing, but as I actually started to track it, I started finding a lot of hidden gems. Both my parents come from countries where travel and natural curiosity are encouraged (Mexico and El Salvador), so they definitely passed that along in raising us, too. As I started to travel within the Midwest for work, I started finding so many things that challenged the usual narrative of that state/region. Therefore, I became curious about finding similar things in other states/regions in our country. Ex: mini Dutch-esque tulip season celebrations in Iowa and Michigan because of the large Dutch immigrant populations, massive Iftar/Ramadan celebrations in Minneapolis and St. Paul due to the large Somali population, the massive annual Hùng Kings' Festival in New Orleans due to the large Vietnamese population, etc.  


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent events of racial injustice?

It's important for 2 reasons--1) I can challenge my own biases and assumptions by meeting/seeing/connecting with people I wouldn't expect to interact with much in my day to day life (or in my neighborhood). When I first started traveling throughout the Midwest and other rural areas of the country, I had an idea of what to expect, and have been pleasantly surprised to be constantly challenged in those assumptions. It really reinforced the point of the USA being made up of so many different kinds of people, and not just related to the usual checkboxes (race, religion, income, etc.). Ex: I've run into 2nd and 3rd generation Vietnamese families working in ranches near Rapid City, SD alongside poor white farmers that are constantly trying to remain independent in an industry ruled by the few large corporate conglomerates in agriculture, a thriving native American population in the Seattle suburbs that has managed to incorporate modern medicine into their traditional healing practices to provide adequate healthcare to their underserved communities, and so much more.


And 2) So other people are exposed to me. So many times, I've traveled to places within the USA that have never run into someone like me--a young, unmarried, first-gen Latina traveling alone. I realize that despite not having many privileges, I do have some--I'm able-bodied, I speak English fluently, I present the gender I identify with and fits with the binary people are accustomed to, and while not skinny, I'm certainly not subjected to some of the fat-phobic comments and judgments my peers get. I'm young. I have financial means that allow me access to $ in an emergency if I need it (the privilege of good credit and cash savings is real!). All of these things allow me to take risks that others might not be able to because there's a real danger. When there's been a place I've wanted to visit and explore that I might have some hesitations about, I've tried to research online groups and communities that specifically cater to BIPOC, so I know what I'm getting myself into. If I determine that going solo (which is most of my travel, domestic or international) isn't the best idea, I try to find allies (often white friends) that'll go with me. I'd like to get to a point where I don't have to do that, but I won't let it stop me from exploring, or forcing other people to interact with me when they've never encountered anyone like me.

Traveler 8: Alieshia from @Alieshiaadventures

 23 States & Counting!  Lived in 5 different states. 

Connect with Alieshia Adventures: Instagram | Blog | YouTube | Facebook



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

I love domestic travel because you can see so many different cultures in each state. Sometimes it’s more affordable, LOL. I want to see all the 50 states because I think they have something to offer and you can learn a lot! 


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent incidents of racial injustice?

I believe domestic travel is important. However, as black women, I want us to protect ourselves in this current climate. I know that with everything going on in the media, it could seem like you may not want to travel. I would say to just know where you are going and research before you go there. 

Traveler 9: Dacia from @continentcountess

Visited All 50 States!

Connect with Continent Countess: Instagram | Blog | YouTube | Pinterest



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

We have so much beauty and tons of attractions right in our own backyard. As such, we need to appreciate what is right in front of us! I initially did not intend to do all 50 states, but once I returned from Antarctica in 2016, which was my last continent, everyone started asking if I had all 50 states. After I looked at my US count, I realized I was only 15 states short. Therefore, I decided to go for it. I visited all 50 states as of November 29, 2019, Nebraska was my last state.


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent incidents of racial injustice?

Since international travel is not much of an option right now, I want to return to some cities that I’ve been to already and do things that I didn’t get to the first time around. Plus, as a Black woman who travels solo, I want people to see that I enjoy our country as much as they do and encourage others to do the same. I questioned if I would be welcomed in a few states and was pleasantly surprised when I was embraced.

Traveler 10: Halle from @halleswanderingsoul

Visited 49 States! Almost there!

Connect with Halles Wandering Soul: Instagram | Blog



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

I fell in love with domestic travel in college when I was what you’d call a “weekend warrior.” I started visiting national parks on my days off and realized how much beauty we have right here! Domestic travel is generally cheaper than international travel. Therefore, as someone traveling full time who just graduated a year ago, it’s allowed me to see a lot for not a lot of money. I’m definitely a traveler who loves lists and goals! 50 states was one of the first goals I made as a traveler, along with seeing all 62 National Parks before I’m 30! I’ve visited 49 US states (missing Alaska), and 48 of them were during my 3-month road trip I did last summer which inspired me to do van life! 


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent incidents of racial injustice?

While I am not someone who has ever personally experienced the type of racial injustice that we’re seeing in the US right now, my heart is with everyone in the black community, and I stand with you no matter what. I think that domestic travel right now is really important in gaining a sense of community in the US. When we travel internationally, the connections we make are often some of the most meaningful experiences we have. It’s time to do that domestically too, and learn people’s stories, so that we can have a better understanding of and a greater respect for each other.

Traveler 11: Raquel -- One-Half of @2women50states40years 

27 States & Counting!

Connect with 2 Women 50 States 40 Years:  Instagram


Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

After traveling abroad multiple times & venturing through many cities I began to see some architectural resemblance to places I've visited in my own country. I began to think about the money & time I invest in other countries. Truth was I didn't have the same knowledge about my own country. Every time I thought of vacation it was to seek another country. So I said to myself I am going to venture around my own beautiful country state by state. I map out my journeys to explore the migration of black people by force or choice in every state which is rich in history & emotions. I am 39 with the desire to travel the entire country by 40 (that goal has been snagged due to covid). I am currently at 27 states out of 50 states.


Why is domestic travel so important in light of recent incidents of racial injustice?

Domestic travel has been extremely important to me as a black woman. I was taught growing up that I should not go or be extra careful when traveling to different places due to the response I may receive traveling as a black woman. I often mention in my 2women50states40years post that many of my ancestors died to afford me the opportunity to travel so I will. I travel with gratitude, I travel with an open heart & I travel to gather history about our fight & journey to be free & now our quest to be seen as equal. Every state has a chapter in black history each one being unique. 

Traveler 12: Franny from @Frannythetraveler

35 States & Counting!

Connect with Franny the Traveler:  Instagram | Blog | Facebook | Pinterest



Why do you love domestic travel? Why do you want to see all 50 states? 

I love domestic travel for two major reasons. My main reason is because I am always in awe of majestic landscapes, quaint towns, and eclectic urban cities right in our backyard. I like to remind people that the United States easily could have been a continent with each state being a country -- the United States and Europe are similar in size (9.8 million vs. 10.1 million square kilometers). Every state is truly unique, with its own state dish, its own landscape, and its own vibe. It often does feel like I am exploring another country in comparison to my home city, New York City!


I also love the convenience of domestic travel in terms of time, transportation, and costs (but not always). In terms of time, it's super helpful to squeeze in a micro-cation (I am the micro-cation queen) without using PTO or taking advantage of a long weekend from a federal holiday. I can easily take a two-three hour flight on a Friday evening after work and be in the Midwest, for example, for the weekend -- which is very different from New York City. In terms of transportation, I like not having to be dependent solely on planes. I truly enjoy hopping on a bus to Philly or taking a scenic Amtrak ride (I have gone as far as New Orleans, Atlanta, and Miami on Amtrak and as short as Albany, NY). Because of flexibility with modes of transportation, it can make a trip a lot cheaper.


I don’t remember the exact moment that I decided to see all 50 states. There was a moment where I realized I had traveled to a lot of unexpected states such as Indiana, Delaware, and Colorado because of work conferences as well as the fact that I enjoy those workations. Visiting all 50 states seemed attainable and I love to set bucket lists, so it just made sense to do so! Now, it goes beyond a bucket list! I find power as a Black woman to visit every state, especially in states lacking diversity where people may have rarely seen a Black person and I may not see someone who looks like me. That level of discomfort leaves room for growth and awareness for both sides.


Why is domestic travel so important in light of  recent events of racial injustice?

Here are my top 3 reasons, but I really can go on and on about this:


1. It is how I can learn my history. Black history was never taught adequately in my K-12 education and I had to elect to choose those classes in college. I actually majored in History and focused on colonialism, so I was really DEEP in those classes from both a domestic and global perspective. However, the more I travel, the more I get to learn the nuances and untold stories of my history. When I travel domestically, one of the first things I research about is an African American museum in the state I am visiting. Some states have more comprehensive ones than others, but just about every state has some museum or at least mini-center showcasing the Black history of their state. My Black History education has truly been outside the classroom. Here are two comprehensive lists of African American Museums: Black Past’s List & Travel Noire List


2. As alluded to before, there is power in a Black woman traveling to every single state. The list of people who have reported traveling to at least 35 states is already small -- only 6,000 members and it is not all Americans (which reminds me, I need to file for Associate Membership of the All Fifty Club). Back in the day, as a Black person, I did not even have the ability to travel freely in the United States even though we literally built this country. I have that freedom now, but it is still not the same level of freedom as a white person who does not have to face racism or discomfort while traveling. I am curious to know how many Black people -- male or female -- have seen all 50 states. I do not know any other Black person personally outside of IG who has the goal of seeing all 50 states. I only know two Latinas personally (who are featured in this article) who have that goal. 


We built this country so we deserve to explore it!

3. To support Black: People have yet to realize the value of a Black dollar even though African Americans contribute to $63 billion of the travel industry. However, how much of that is contributed to Black travel or Black-owned- businesses? This is why when I travel, I always research Black-owned restaurants and businesses. Ideally, I make an effort to experience  at least a full day in Black-owned <insert state> although some states are a lot more difficult than others *cough cough Vermont* I hope now with the Black Live Matter revolution, people continue this energy for the long term and support black-owned businesses. Point Blank. 

Next Steps to Indulge in Domestic Travel


If you are interested in travel guides & itineraries for USA travel, check out my blog! I am constantly creating free guides in order to help you plan your next trip. I sort it by region under the "Travel Blog" menu section: Franny the Traveler Blog


If you are looking for USA Domestic Travel inspiration, check out

  • Franny the Traveler Instagram: I have lots of photos of my USA domestic travels and bite-sized tips. I have also been posting a USA Throwback series where I share Top Places Visited, A Vivid Memory, My Black Experience, and the Coronavirus rates of each state I have been to!

  • Franny the Traveler Pinterest: I have lots of pins that contain blog posts from others and myself ranging from USA Domestic Travel to Road Trips, Travel for Foodies, Street Art Graffiti, and Travel Guides!

If you are interested in connecting with other USA Domestic Travel lovers, check out these Facebook groups and pages

If you are interested in chasing the 50 State Bucket-list, check out the All Fifty ClubThis was formed to recognize those individuals who have achieved visiting all fifty states. There are three levels of membership:

  • Full membership is awarded to travelers who have visited all 50 states.

  • Continental membership is issued to those who have visited all 48 contiguous U.S. states.

  • Associate membership is issued to travelers who visited 35 or more states and intend to complete all 50.



Why does USA Domestic Travel Matter to you?

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About Me

Part-time traveler and full-time nationally award-winning educator. My passion for travel led me to start my travel blog so I could share the stories of my adventures and tips I have learned along the way as I conquer at least two new countries and two new states a year to reach 50 states & 50 countries by age 50.

 

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