By Ashley Day
Whether you’re heading back into the office next week or hitting the road to see America, these explorers should be on your radar (or at least your RSS feed) for inspiration, motivation and advice for your next journey. Follow their adventures online for insight into the rest of the world from quite a variety of vantage points.
We’ll start with our five 2011 road rally teams. They’re still at it, exploring America and beyond, including some of the finalist small towns! See what they’ve been up to:
- Gone With the Wynn’s were featured in a special RV edition of HGTV’s House Hunters on Christmas day! Their full-time RV travels have continued through finalist towns Pacifica and Lake Havasu City, in addition to Virginia City, NV and Springdale, UT. Check out their video log for more inspiring footage of America.
- Captain and Clark spent a month after the road rally traveling around Washington state, filming small towns and fun things to do in the area. In September, the pair took off to the Galapagos islands where they picked up 22 letters from a barrel that are addressed to strangers all across the globe. Chris and Tawny plan to start hand delivering these letters at the start of 2012 and you can watch as they go!
- TravelingJules and TravelingJoan were recently invited back to Glenwood Springs to capture the Most Fun Small Town in America in the winter! Since the rally finale, TravelingJules has been filming everywhere from Colorado to the Mediterranean and is excited to capture skiing and snow mobiling in the town that offered paragliding and ATVing in the summer. Keep an eye out for her next adventure.
- McNavigators began preparing to transition to full-time RVing as soon as they returned to North Carolina. Dan and JoAnne have a new website where we’re excited to see them embark on this journey and recommend following along. If you’ve considered the RV lifestyle, their story will relate how the transition takes place and all the doors it opens. See where the RV takes them first in 2012.
- Fun Finders headed right back to Visalia after the road rally’s closing ceremony. They took time to see attractions they’d missed then drove to Las Vegas and purchased a van to maintain their travel momentum! They’ve been back through Lafayette and Gulfport and added plenty of other towns to their list. Jim and Bonnie have also shared their Best of the Road adventure speaking in schools and communities since the rally.
And here are a few new names we’ve been drawn to by amazing stories and impressive followings:
- Nanette Cole is pursuing her 30-year dream of driving across America after surviving cancer put life into perspective for her. She hits the road in March and aims to share the stories of everyone she meets along the way. She wants to get to know the people who comprise our country and is determined to not take a single minute of life for granted. Following Backtrax America may just convince you it’s never too late to fulfill a dream.
- American Odyssey decided to see America after traveling all around the world–one of our favorite ideas. Ken and Julie have circled the western United States in an RV looking for the heart of America with videos, blogs and photos. Watch their first 101 days and follow @americanodtv on Twitter to see what they’re up to next.
- Megan Eileen founded the online magazine Bohemian Trails when layoffs in the music industry gave her the push she needed to pursue travel and writing, her true passions. She shares her experiences, advice and guides to the destinations she’s covered in her e-mag and interacts with other travelers on Twitter. Check out her posts on how to get started with your own travel plans and American destinations like DC, Portland and Seattle.
- Two Oregonians traveled just a mile to establish a transitional housing community for formerly homeless families in Portland, OR realizing you can experience a different culture without going far at all. Ted and Bethany tell of the travels within their own home state while planning their next Round the World adventure. Their moving story will motivate you to make a difference wherever you are.
- Tammie Dooley prefers a Solo Road Trip and gave up a successful financial career to pursue freelance writing. She beautifully and humorously illustrates all she encounters on foot or via 4WD through her journal entries and photos. You’ll love her road trip adventure blog in addition to writings “all over the board.”
- Twitchhiker traveled the world relying only on Twitter and detailed his experiences in the U.S. in his upcoming book “On the Edge of America.” Paul Smith crossed the United States in a week on a train then just kept going.. You can check out his website and books, but obviously Twitter is his preferred portal.
- Paul Brady traveled the American Road this summer and currently writes for Huffington Post Travel. He spent 10 weeks discovering America covering close to 10,000 miles worth of regional differences and cultural similarities alike. This Gadling blog is well worth a read.
Are you planning an adventure of your own? Tell us about it on Twitter using #bestoftheroad and don’t forget to review your U.S. destinations at bestoftheroad.com to help other travelers map their own routes! Try one of our 200+ road trips already routed by region and theme.
Happy New Year of Traveling!