American Roadtrip had the pleasure of grabbing Sandi McKenna and Rick Griffin, the producers & hosts of Midlife Roadtrip TV, for a few quick questions about food, travel, adventure, and chipping away at bucket lists.
ART: How did you end up being the co-host of a television program about travel & food? Did you grow up in a family that took you on many adventures that inspired you? Fulfillment of a dream that you worked hard for or fell in your lap?
Sandi: I grew up in a family that went somewhere just about every weekend. My dad had a 32 foot motor home that rarely sat idol. When we weren’t traveling, we were talking about where we would go next.
Fast Forward … Rick & I met on Twitter during a conversation with mutual friends/television producers about travel, video production and Bucket Lists! We met in person when we were in the same city and decided to shoot a pilot episode. The rest as they say is history!
Rick: My family would only take one vacation per year, usually a long road trip to the beach or the mountains where we would camp in a tent or a trailer. Since we traveled so infrequently, every trip was a big deal to me and made me want to travel more.
As a video producer, I had a vision for the show but I had no budget to hire real talent so I had to cast myself as one of the hosts.
My dream has long been to have a job where I travel, eat and meet interesting people. Our hard work in building Midlife Road Trip into the brand that it is today is the fulfillment of that dream.
ART: Fantastic to be living that dream guys! Have most of your travels been in the USA or have they taken you worldwide? I know it’s probably impossible to nail it down, but what city and/or country would you say has been the most memorable & why?
Sandi: We have no borders when it comes to traveling. The world is indeed our oyster. In the U.S., I loved Alaska’s inside passage. We were a week without visiting a town and the landscape was spectacular. Overseas, Italy has a special place in my heart. I love the people, the culture and yes, the food!
Rick: Our travels have taken us worldwide! Each journey is special in its own way. I had 3 incredible moments just last year: witnessing literally hundreds of humpback whales feeding, breaching and spouting water for several hours in Alaska’s inner passage was surreal; riding mules down the highest sea cliffs in the world in Molokai, Hawaii was exhilarating; and experiencing Rome for the first time with my daughter who had just graduated from college was unforgettable.
ART: Like I said, fantastic to be living the dream…wow! While on a roadtrip do you ever enjoy a good fast food joint? Give us a few examples.
Sandi: Food is my favorite thing about a road trip and I love stopping along the way at local mom and pops. For example we found an amazing pie shoppe in Duluth, GA that I dream about to this day! Of course, In and Out, Pinks are a must on the west coast, Pizza & Bagels on the east coast, Italian Beef at Portillo’s in Chicago. The list (and cravings) go on and on!
Rick: While on a road trip, I always prefer to eat what the locals eat at some mom and pop place that that is unique to that particular location. I love getting a muffuletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans, chili slaw dogs from The Varsity in Atlanta, fried pies from the Fried Pie Company in Gainesville Texas, fried green tomatoes from Magnolia’s in Charleston, SC. I could go on and on but you just asked for a few examples.
ART: I want your jobs. Ok, tell us about some of the most interesting people you have met during your travels, be it celebrities or regular old people who left a lasting impression on you for whatever reason.
Sandi: We have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people in our travels. A couple years ago we did a 7200 mile road trip across the United States for U.S.A. Today & Rand McNally to find the Most Patriotic Small Town in America. In the process we met true American heroes and I was so humbled by these selfless folks and all the sacrifices they made for our freedom. We have also run in to our fair share of notables, from Sting to Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods host, Andrew Zimmern. And then of course, locals the people who live and work in the cities and towns we visit. They are who give us the real sense of what a destination, a community is really like.
Rick: While on the Best of the Road Rally in 2012 we met a couple of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients who were truly two of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. We’ve met a few celebrities along the road as well like Mark Burnett (creator of Survivor, the Apprentice etc.), Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel, jazz great Dave Koz, Kelsey Grammer, Geraldo Rivera, and Sting. But it’s “ regular people” doing things that they are passionate about who impress me the most.
ART: Many folks cannot afford to travel extensively, so can you offer some advice on how to hit the road on a budget?
Sandi: Do your research. When booking your trip, bundle your air, car and hotel to save. Also look for last minute deals, especially on cruises. Use your smartphone wisely and download apps to help you in your search. Some will save you money and others time. Some of my favorites that I routinely use are Tripit (for air travel notifications) Expedia (for booking) Rosetta Stone (for foreign language phrases) Skype (to keep in touch with family and friends back home) Hootsuite (to stay connected with all my Twitter friends) and Uber (for transportation).
Rick: There are lots of ways to safe money when traveling. Instead of a hotel, you can stay at a hostel or a campground. Instead of flying, take a train or a bus. Instead of dining out, take food with you. Instead of taking a taxi, walk or take public transportation. Some of these alternatives can actually enhance your travel experience. Also, do your research. There are great deals to be had especially if you can be flexible as to when you can travel. Off-season travel is always less expensive. We often save a lot of money with Expedia that allows us bundling your air, hotel and car rental, or by booking last minute deals. Other apps like Yelp, Foursquare and Scoutmob can help you find restaurants and attractions offering special deals.
Great deals Rick! And thanks to you and Sandi for sharing some of your experiences and expert advice. Now you can cross off “interview with American Roadtrip,” from your bucket list.