If you travel on a regular basis then you know the feeling – different city, different day, same strip mall. Our world is being taken over by big box stores, chain restaurants and corporate hotels. Look out the window of your Doubletree, and chances are you’ll see a Starbucks, a Chile’s or a Country Buffet staring back at you. Whether you spend a little (McDonald’s, Walmart) or a lot (Banana Republic, Morton’s Steakhouse), a chain offers you the same exact experience, no matter where you are.
For some people, that sameness is reassuring, comforting. But for me, as a guidebook author, travel and food journalist for the past 20 years, this sameness undermines the very reason I travel: to have an authentic experience in a place that is unlike where I’m from.
Maybe it takes a little more digging, but when I travel, I want to patronize locally owned hotels, shops and restaurants, both in my home city of Philadelphia, and in my frequent travels around America and abroad.
Unchained Travel celebrates the joy of discovering real people and places out on the road. When I find an amazing restaurant, whether it’s Acherberg Olm in Oetz, on the side of a mountain in the Tirolian Alps, or Louie and the Red Head Lady, a funky roadside diner in Mandeville, Lousiana, I’ll tell you about it. I’ve loosely categorized UT into Eat, Drink, Play and Sleep, but often hidden gems will fit into more than one category.
And since there are exceptions to every rule, I sometimes come across a place that isn’t strictly locally owned – but has managed to capture the local culture and spirit of a place in a way that’s worth an honorable mention.
When you have an Unchained Travel experience, please send it my way. Together we can celebrate what’s different and special about a place, instead of how it’s the same as so many other cities and towns. Isn’t that the reason we leave home in the first place?