By Rishika Sharma, on November 4, 2022

Hidden gems: Discovering the beauty of small-town America with photographer and TV host Matt Hranek

Is Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, on your travel list for this year? How about Destin, Florida? When we here at Expedia ask travelers about their bucket-list destinations, unsurprisingly, they often say Paris, London, New York, LA, and so on. They might even mention the lavender fields of Provence, or the beautiful beach town of Positano. Yet in our 2022 travel trends report, Gatlinburg and Destin made the list of our most popular destinations for the upcoming year, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Maui, Tulum, Bali, and Rome.

Photographer and TV host Matt Hranek

In fact, Out Travel The System’s data queen, Christie Hudson, tells us that small towns and lesser-known US destinations often pop up on our annual trends report. Especially in 2020, when we were seeing travelers flocking to the likes of Lincoln, New Hampshire; Crossville, Tennessee; and Saratoga County, New York. So, while people are obviously visiting and enjoying destinations all over the US, why don’t we dream about small-town America the way we do Europe?

That’s what we’re getting into in this week’s episode of Our Travel The System with our guest Matt Hranek. Matt is the founder and editor of, and one of the authors for, men’s lifestyle magazine WM Brown Project, and has worked as a photographer for Condé Nast Traveler. He even starred in Esquire Network’s travel show Alternate Route, which had Matt searching across the US for people and places that embody that all-American spirit.

Whether for work or personal escapades with fellow travel professional – and wife – Yolanda Edwards, over the last 20 years Matt has seen and captured some of the most amazing places on earth. And still, in his own words, “I always come back to the States with fresh eyes, and appreciate where I grew up”. Here are his tips for discovering the beauty in our own backyard:

Find a story you want to unfold first-hand

“I had this photo assistant at CN Traveler, and he wanted to break out into his own career. So I said, ‘We go to all these exotic places to cover food, landscape, culture, and people, but all of that exists in your own backyard. All of that discovery is right here, so go back to Bend, Oregon, and develop your travel stories, because you don’t need a passport to experience the same wonder of that stuff.’”

Don’t skip the gas stations

“I remember traveling with my parents and a lot of conversations about where to stop along the way happened with a conversation at a gas station, and I still have those conversations. I still value human contact. I would say 90% of the time, I’m set on the right path by vetting local people.
Also, there was one point, Yolanda and I decided to rent this house up in Nova Scotia that we found near this historic little town called Lunenburg. And I remember when we arrived there, we had a case of wine and a tin of caviar because it was one of our birthdays, so I went into the gas station and bought a loaf of white bread. So, we had white toast with butter and caviar with champagne in this beautiful little cove in Nova Scotia, and it just felt like we couldn’t be farther away from the West Village, but it was just so elegant and perfect. It’s still one of the most perfect meals I’ve ever had, and that meal did not become complete without the gas station.”

Search #smalltowns on Instagram

“Instagram is an amazing tool for exploration and a great resource for inspiration. There are over 1 million posts if you search #smalltown and almost 400,000 posts for #smalltownUSA.”

Give yourself time to get lost

“Prior to Google Maps, Yolanda and I would buy topographic maps in every gas station of every state we were going to drive through. And we always plotted course on the secondary roads because that’s where all the discovery takes place. So, when we’d look at the map and it would be a two-hour drive, we’d plan for four hours because we knew we were going to stop and pull over and explore. So, build in time for distractions. Build in time to find stuff, great human-interest stories, local food, flea markets, etc.”

Try set-jetting 

“Usually, the nitty-gritty of what’s going on behind the scenes of great films are these small towns, so I Google where they’re shot to find locations to visit. I was down in Buford, South Carolina, because that’s where The Big Chill was filmed.
Also, I used to love watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives to write down notes about, ‘If I’m ever in town X in the middle of Indiana, I’m going to hit that place for their chipped beef on toast,’ for example.”
Matt also shares some of his favorite small towns, including Moose Lake, Minnesota, for its historic Scandinavian smoked fish traditions, and Sausalito – a sleepy Californian seaside town with houseboats and seaplanes. So, give this week’s episode a listen if you’re looking to add some local wonders to your travel list. And if you want to share your favorite small town with us on social, tweet us – we’re all ears!

Want to learn more?

Listen to the podcast now, check out the complete transcript below, or catch the full conversation on Spotify or Apple.

Nisreene Atassi, Expedia Global Head of Social Media, and host: I’m Nisreene Atassi and this is Out Travel The System. This week we’re talking small-town travel destinations We’ll talk trends…

Christie Hudson, head of Expedia PR for North America (sound bite): Small towns and lesser-known destinations actually regularly pop up on Expedia’s annual trends reports. During 2020, we saw travelers were really flocking to smaller, off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Nisreene: ..hear from photographer and author Matt Hranek…

Matt Hranek, photographer, author and U.S. travel expert (sound bite): There’s a lot of discovery in this new evolution of what these towns have become.

Nisreene: ..and really get down to business.

Matt (sound bite): Oh, this is something that you do in some big palazzo in Tuscany, not in a very kind of blood-and-guts, agricultural part of California.

Nisreene: So here we go.

[Musical interlude]

Nisreene: You often hear a lot of people talking about when they are traveling abroad, they have this desire to really hit up all these amazing small-town destinations that a country has to offer. They want to see those quaint cobblestone streets of medieval villages, the vineyards of Italy, or the lavender fields of Provence. But nobody really romanticizes America like that. They don’t really talk about American small towns the same way. Why is that? You know, I feel like there’s just this weird stigma that American small towns don’t have the same things to offer. And so we always just focus on those major cities within America that are amazing. But what about all the awesome spots just outside some of these cities? For example, everybody who lives in Chicago has made at least one trip every summer to Lake Geneva, which is the most quintessential vacation town just outside of Chicago. And it really got me thinking, “What are all the other places like Lake Geneva that you don’t know about or hear about unless you live within an hour or two of those places?” So in today’s episode, we’re going to really dig in and talk all about small-town America, what makes it so great and how to really explore it. I’ve got a special guest with me today. Author and photographer Matt Kronick is here. And, of course, we’ve got our data correspondent, Christie Hudson, who’s going to talk all about small-town America, including where they’re going and how they’re getting there.

All right, Christie, so what is the research telling us in regards to the most visited small towns in the USA?

Christie: Small towns and lesser-known destinations actually regularly pop up on Expedia’s annual trends reports. Especially during 2020, we saw travelers were really flocking to smaller, off-the-beaten-path destinations. Lincoln, New Hampshire, with its population of less than 2000, was a top-10 trending destination in 2020. People were looking for nature-rich destinations that they could explore safely.

I looked at some of the data for the summer and, again, saw that smaller destinations and smaller towns were popping up. Crossville, TN, which I had never heard of, apparently is a lesser-known golfer’s paradise and it saw a huge boost in demand this summer. Another place that was coming up in the data was Saratoga County, NY. It’s one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, and saw triple-digit visitor growth in July. And while hotel prices almost everywhere else skyrocketed this summer, prices in Saratoga remained lower than average. So there can be a little bit of a value hack to these smaller towns as well.

One of the toughest things about planning one of these trips is they’re kind of hard to isolate. Like, where should you start? So if you’re wondering how to plan a small-town trip of your own, I recommend starting with a list we put together last year. It’s Expedia’s top 20 friendliest cities in the U.S. And wouldn’t you know, that 19 of the 20 were small towns and medium-sized cities. So, in 2021 we created this list by basically poring over thousands of traveler reviews, looking for people who mentioned helpful, friendly locals, and warm, amiable service, and most of them are probably places you haven’t heard of. Among them, some of my favorites, Sister Bay, Wisconsin. It’s this charming small-town destination for boating and fishing. Another place is Grants Pass, Oregon. It’s got a bunch of boutiques, it’s got easy access to wine country. And then there’s also Sierra Vista, Arizona, which is the self-proclaimed hummingbird capital of the U.S.

So there are tons of small towns out there that pack a big punch when it comes to travel. Small footprint, big heart.

[Musical interlude]

Nisreene: Today’s guest, Matt Hranek, has 20 years of experience navigating airports, train stations, hotels, restaurants and bars worldwide. And he even wrote a book about martinis and negronis. Yum. I don’t love a negroni, but I do love a good martini, so I’ll take it. His career started as a travel photographer for various publications, and he’s now a full-time traveler, explorer and author of several books, and the WM Brown magazine, a quarterly publication.

Hi, Matt.

Matt: Hi.

Nisreene: The inspiration for this episode was a couple of months ago. I was actually – I was watching reality TV and one of the cast members was talking about how he was from Brockway, California. And so it really got me thinking, like, I had never even heard of this place. And then in that same week, an influencer that I follow was talking about Truckee, California.

Matt: Yeah, I know Truckee.

Nisreene: Apparently there’s like a whole… they call them, sort of, old gold-rush towns that popped up during that time period and then were abandoned. And then they sort of came back and have turned into a little bit of vacation hot spots.

Matt: Yolanda, my wife, is from California, and when we first met, I was flying – she was living in L.A. and we would meet in, like, Palm Springs and, you know, drive around the desert or… I remember we drove to the Salton Sea to see this piece of property that her grandparents bought. And it was such a steep contrast to where I grew up. Like, I loved driving around the desert. And I love that sensibility of the Lost West in this kind of modern ghost town of abandoned places. And that was very exciting to me, because it was just such a foreign landscape and such a different point of view to where I grew up in Upstate New York.

Nisreene: I should have mentioned this earlier for our listeners, but Matt’s wife is Yolanda Edwards, who was previously a guest on our show. I love that you just said a foreign landscape, because for you to say something like that about a small town in America as a very, very well-seasoned traveler who goes to a lot of international destinations, I feel like says a lot. What do you think it is about small-town America that is so appealing to you as an individual?

Matt: You know, for me, it’s very interesting because, you know, I’ve been very, very lucky to spend a lot of time on foreign soil. But I always, always come back to the States with fresh eyes and appreciate where I grew up, how I grew up, and what is out there, because it’s so vast. You know, it’s always been a place of exploration. You know, I had this photo assistant when I was working and we were traveling to very exotic places. His name was Jack Coble, and he wanted to break out into his own career. And I said, “Jack, you know how to tell a story, a photo story. But that story exists in your own backyard. So go back to Bend, Oregon, and develop your travel story.” Because all the, kind of, bullet points were the same, right? A little bit of food, landscape, destination, culture, people. I mean, that’s essentially how we are building our editorial stories when I was photographing for magazines like Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. And he was like, “Wow, I never really thought about that before.” And it’s true. Like, all of that stuff, all of that discovery, all of that point of view is really in your own backyard. It doesn’t have to require a passport to experience the wonder of that stuff.

Nisreene: So you spent a lot of time in Upstate New York. Tell me a little bit about what makes that area so special.

Matt: For me, I love the fact that it feels very old-school Upstate New York and caught-in-time. But then again, when I go to a place not too far from where we are in Upstate New York, and you go to Livingston Manor, which I used to go as a kid, and it’s nice that there’s a thoughtful, really well-edited wine shop there now. And you can find a little obscure mezcal brand. Where, before, it was like bottles of VO and Smirnoff, you know? And the influx of, kind of, new culture that is discovering these places and setting roots there, that is, I think, a really exciting part about the evolution of this kind of small-town America, where people realize they don’t have to be in these big urban environments anymore. They can kind of set roots up in these small towns and have an amazing quality of life. And there’s still a nostalgic element in these places that is and will not ever be unchanged, I think. That balance is key.

Nisreene: So what you’re describing is really, really similar to what I was talking about with Chicago, where you travel just a short distance outside of the city and you almost feel like you’re kind of traveling back in time a little bit. So I like how you mentioned that sort of sense of nostalgia. This is sort of your version of that, except just outside of New York City.

Matt: I am constantly amazed how dramatic the landscape and towns, the change, literally two hours… I mean, sometimes an hour-and-a-half outside New York City, if you just head kind of northwest. And there’s something incredibly… I don’t know, encouraging and great about that, that it hasn’t been, you know, there’s not this urban sprawl. It still seems very, very wild. There hasn’t been this massive population explosion there. It’s pastoral and it’s agricultural. And then there’s these pockets of almost like Western-style towns that still feel very local.

Nisreene: Such a stark contrast, right? You almost don’t even put those two places, like, in the same state. Like, in my mind, they could not be more polar opposite. But I think that’s part of what makes America so exciting. And I think the reality is that near every major city is an amazing small town that probably nobody has ever heard of. What made you personally want to return to Upstate New York?

Matt: You know, I kind of grew up in these outdoor traditions with my father, and one of them was fly fishing. And when I moved to New York City, I kind of forgot that part of myself. And I was, like, indulged in this urbanite existence. There was all this group of young photographers, these guys that all kind of grew up the same way and loved fishing. Nobody was hiring as we were kind of twiddling their thumbs. And we all started going fly fishing again in Upstate New York. And I realized how important that was to who I am and what a great kind of detox that was for all of us. When I met Yolanda, I had been renting houses in, you know, Ulster County, where all the good fly fishing was. And then we rented houses in Long Island, in Connecticut, and we were just trying to kind of find our way. I was doing a story for GQ magazine, and it was fly-fishing the Delaware. It was just so phenomenal. And I said to Yolanda, “I forgot about how cool this part of Sullivan County is. Like, I used to come here with my dad and fished the Delaware. We should think about finding something here someday.” And it still feels raw. And there’s still agriculture there. And small town. And it wasn’t infiltrated with lots of city people. It felt like where I grew up, but even more raw and more wooded and wild. And then one day we were walking to the West Village. We saw a listing for this piece of property that was a farm in Sullivan County. And I had squirreled away enough money to make an offer on it and we ended up buying it. And what I liked about it was it was just an hour from where I grew up. But it was a world away, and it was surrounded by all this emptiness that I needed in contrast to my New York City life. I needed to be near where I grew up. I needed that connection. I was familiar with enough, but it still offered a lot of opportunity for discovery. All I want to do is see the stars. Like, can we just, like, find a place where we could see the stars? I mean, you forget about that when you’re living in a city and then you get to this place and it’s like the universe opens up.

Nisreene: You mentioned that you love driving through the West Coast. Is driving primarily how you stumble across new small towns? How do you find some of these places?

Matt: Prior to Google Maps, I remember Yolanda and I bought topographic maps in every gas station you could possibly imagine of every state we were going to drive through and always plotted course on the secondary roads. And that’s where all the discovery takes place. And, you know, when we look at the map and it would be a two-hour drive, we just would assume it’s going to be a four-hour drive, because we knew we were going to stop. We knew we were going to pull over. We knew we were going to explore. We knew we were going to be distracted.

Nisreene: So is that a tip that you try to give people? Give yourself time to sort of get lost and wander?

Matt: That’s how I kind of look at it. I think it’s about finding stuff. It’s about finding great human interest stories and great local food and landscape and flea markets.

Nisreene: Well, what are some of your favorite trips, then? Or, like, a trip that you took to a small town that really sticks out to you as being super memorable?

Matt: There was one point – I think it was early 2000 – that Yolanda and I decided to rent this house up in Nova Scotia that we found near this historic little town called Lunenburg. And it was this little red clapboard kind of Scandinavian-looking house sitting on some of the coldest water you could ever imagine to visit in July or August. And I remember when we arrived there, we had, like, a case of wine. I think I had a tin of caviar because it was going to be, I think, one of our birthdays, right? And we got there and everything was closed. So I went into the gas station and bought a loaf of white bread and butter. And I remember I made, like, white toast with butter and caviar and drank champagne in this beautiful little cove in Nova Scotia, and it just felt like we couldn’t be farther away from the West Village, but it was just so elegant and perfect. It’s still one of the most perfect meals I ever had and that meal did not become complete unless there was a visit to a gas station.

Nisreene: You’re totally right. And I think, especially when you look at like movies and stuff like that, where they are talking about small towns and featuring them, the gas station is really is sort of the cornerstone and that sort of central hub. There’s always a gas station scene where, like, a big-city person is coming to a small town. They stop at the gas station, they ask for directions, and they have this sort of cute little conversation. But those conversations have really gone away now that we have Google Maps, because people aren’t feeling like they need to stop at the gas station and ask for directions or ask for tips and things like that. And it’s so funny, actually, I just recently saw a meme and it was “If you grew up in the ’80s or ’90s in the Midwest, you always knew the best gas station in town. And when a new gas station was opening up, it was, like, kind of a big deal.”

Matt: I remember traveling with my parents and a lot of those conversations about not only how to get someplace, but where to stop along some route happened with a conversation in a gas station. And I still have those conversations and I still value the human contact. I would say 90% of the time I’m set on the right path by vetting a local. People working at, I don’t know, Best Buy. You know, I found some of my best food saying, “Hey, when you get off work, where do you go eat, or where do you have a drink, or where’s your secret spot in Tallahassee?” or whatever. And that is real, absolutely priceless information.

Nisreene: I love that and I think that is so, so true. Well, so tell me about a place that holds a really special place in your heart?

Matt: Years ago, I did this story for Martha Stewart where we went to Minnesota and we ended up 20 miles north on the north shore from Duluth. And we would visit these places called, like, Lou’s Smokehouse. This big Scandinavian community emigrated there because there was whitefish in the lake. And so there became these traditions of smoking fish. So you go there now and you have these very old-school-style smokehouses – again, like, caught in a different time. And I had no idea that there was so much of this kind of cultural food experience there in that part of Minnesota.

Nisreene: Yeah. A trend that I’d love to really see kick off is this sort of city-break-small-town-America combo vacation, where you basically take a week-long trip, you fly into a major city. So let’s say you fly into Chicago, you spend the weekend enjoying Chicago, but then you get in a rental car and you drive maybe, like, two hours outside of Chicago. So then you almost get this, like, combination of the big city plus the small town. There are all these small towns that nobody would ever hear of that are really close to a lot of these big cities. I’m originally from Chicago, so I know Saint Joseph, Michigan, really well. I know Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, really well, and I would recommend them to anybody. Is it worth flying in just to go there? Probably not. But if you did that, plus, like, a weekend in Chicago, I think it could be a really fantastic vacation. It’s something that I feel like Europeans actually do quite a bit, right? Like, they do, like, the Cotswolds and things like that outside of London. Is there any place in the U.S. where this type of vacation, that you would really recommend? Like flying into L.A. maybe and driving here or something along those lines?

Matt: There are some places in California that I really like. I mean, Yolanda is from the Bay Area near San Francisco. So we find ourselves getting back there more frequently now because of our relationships with the wine world. You know, we fly into San Francisco – we very rarely go into San Francisco anymore. More often than not, we’re getting in a rental car, we’re heading straight for the Golden Gate Bridge and we’re on our way to Sausalito, this kind of sleepy Northern California seaside town with houseboats and seaplanes. It’s almost like you’re in Maine more than you are in California. From there, if we’re lucky, we go to Stinson Beach, which, again, reminds me of the, kind of, most Cape-Cod-like part of California. You know, it’s just kind of sleepy and old-school and a little surfer-hippie. And for a guy growing up in Upstate New York, that kind of surfer, NorCal, hippie world was always, like, a big fantasy of mine, even though I was never going to be on a surfboard, barely on a skateboard. But that journey to those Northern California places really embodied, for me, the kind of fantasy of California. So that kind of journey – Calistoga, Upper Northern California, up even as far north as, like, Hopland.

Nisreene: I’ve never heard of Hopland. So what was up in Hopland? What made you go there?

Matt: Believe it or not, there was a guy up there who was harvesting mounds of wild boar. I thought it was really interesting that, in the culinary aspect, I only had heard about that in Tuscany. So there was an article in the New York Times about this guy that was harvesting a lot of animals, and a lot of that was going into small charcuterie purveyors and going into restaurants and things like that. And I just was totally fascinated about that. So to experience that in Northern California, that is why I ended up there.

Nisreene: See, and this is why I love this episode, because I’ve never heard of any of these towns that you’re talking about in Northern California, and they’re so interesting to me and it’s really sort of starting to pique my interest, and it just goes to show there are all these great places that no-one’s ever heard of or been to.

Matt: Northern California, Central California is such an amazing food destination. You know, young hippie sheepherders that are doing the best goat cheese and the most amazing yogurts, you know, people that are growing some of the most beautiful oysters in some of the healthiest waters in America now. You look at a picture and you’re like, “Ugh, I want to eat those oysters.” And I’ve made friends through that process, on journeys with chefs who said, “You have to check out this guy at the Morro Bay Oyster Company. He is, like, bringing back the aquaculture of that area.” And you go there and you’re like, “Yeah, of course it should happen here.” This is the food hub of America in a weird way.

Nisreene: So for our listeners who, you know, they want to do this, they want to sort of go and find a new small town, but maybe they have young kids, don’t have a ton of time to sort of spend getting getting lost on the backroads. How can people find new small towns to investigate? I mean, I found – because I followed one influencer online and another randomly because I was watching a reality TV show. But what are other ways that people can find out about some of these amazing places in the U.S.?

Matt: Well, I think keeping your ear to the ground and talking to people and asking advice. And, you know, that can be through social media, that could be through friend groups. I mean, I think Instagram is such an amazing tool to kind of explore stuff. You know, #smalltowns, you know, like, or the county that you’re in. It’s an amazing resource.

Nisreene: Yeah, great tip. I just looked up #smalltowns. There are 1.8 million posts.

Matt: Yeah.

Nisreene: There are almost 400,000 posts for #smalltownUSA. So I never even thought about that and I’m obsessed with social media. So, you know, you learn something new every day.

Matt: You know, I have a friend of mine that finds cars for people and then delivers cars. And I love watching his journey. He’s on social media and I love, like, all the gas-station food that he eats. So I’m always, like, earmarking that stuff. And also, like, I used to love watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives just to, like, write down, “Oh, if I’m ever in town X in the middle of Indiana, I’m going to hit that place for their, I don’t know, chipped beef on toast” or whatever, you know?

Nisreene: Speaking of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I found a small town through TV, but I actually think that movies paint a really idyllic picture of small towns that make people want to actually go and find them. I do think that film is such an amazing inspiration for people to want to go and sort of seek out that kind of experience.

Matt: My tip would be – because I do this – it would be Google where film X was filmed, right?

Nisreene: That’s a great call.

Matt: Right? So I was down in – I always pronounce this incorrectly – Beaufort, South Carolina. And, you know, The Big Chill was filmed there. You know, like, there’s… so I think it’s cool to just Google where films were shot, which, now, it’s so easy to do that, and then, you know, find the real kind of nitty-gritty of, like, what is truly behind the scenes, which are these small towns.

Nisreene: Well, I’ll tell you, Matt, this has been a great conversation, and I really think that you might want to consider you and Yolanda having a reality TV show where it’s, like, Matt and Yolanda drive through the United States.

Matt: Is it sort of like Lucy and Desi?

Nisreene: Exactly? Yeah, but, like, you know, road trip travel show exploring small-town America. I love it.

Matt: For any of you producers out there that want to do that and want to give us full creative control, let us know.

Nisreene: Yeah. Yep. All right. Email me first because I’m now their agent. Okay. Matt, thank you so much for coming on Out Travel The System today. It’s been so fun chatting with you.

Matt: My pleasure. I really enjoyed it.

Nisreene: Tell us, where can our listeners find more information about your work?

Matt: You can follow me on Instagram @WMBrownProject. I also am the founder-editor of WM Brown, William Brown Magazine. And a Google search will lead you down the rabbit hole of all I’ve done in the past, including a great travel show that was on the men’s network called Esquire a few years ago. It was the one-season wonder of Alternate Route. We need to revive that, so go check it out and see if you like it. There’s some good small-town stuff in there.

Nisreene: Awesome. Thank you.

[Musical interlude]

Nisreene: Even as the host of the show and working at Expedia, I oftentimes think that travel is always at the forefront of my mind, which it is. But this episode and every episode always reawakens a sort of certain desire to travel to a certain place. And what this episode has really done for me is reminded me just how beautiful my backyard really is. And sometimes when I have that sort of itch and that wanderlust gene starts to really kick in and I want to go somewhere, what this has really reminded me is that I can go somewhere and it doesn’t have to be a really big destination and it doesn’t have to be this sort of trip that, you know, I take weeks or months to sort of plan out – that I can probably just get in my car or head to the airport and take a quick flight and go to a really cute small town in America and it’s going to give me that rest and relaxation that I know I really need. And that’s one of the beauties of travel for me. So I’m excited to do that. And, you know, it’s early fall, so the leaves are changing and, honestly, there’s no better time to see America. So I’m excited. I’m going to get back out there.

One of the fun things that I also learned is that even if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration, just look at #smalltowns on Instagram and a million places start to come up. So, there are so many places out there that we probably don’t even know about. So, it’s a great way to sort of start to get out there. And Googling the best small towns in America – another great way to see all of the amazing places. So whether it’s Ketchum, Moab, Gatlinburg, or Dahlonega, there are just so many options out there. And I want to really challenge all of you to venture out and get a bit outside of your regular scheduled itinerary to visit some of these hidden gems.

What’s your favorite small town and why? Tell us. We’re @Expedia and @PRX.

As always, thanks so much to our listeners for joining us today. This week’s show was for all of you who continue to have that wanderlust and need to constantly be feeding the beast. I also want to thank Matt Hranek for joining us. If you’d like to find out more about Matt, check out at @WMBrownProject on Instagram. If you have any questions, comments, thoughts, or, better yet, travel suggestions, be sure to DM us. We are @Expedia on Instagram. Oh, and don’t forget to give the show a follow and subscribe on your favorite podcast player so that you don’t miss an episode as soon as it drops.

Out Travel The System is brought to you by Expedia, with special thanks to PRX and Sonic Union. I’m the Executive Producer and your host, Nisreene Atassi. Special thanks to the following:

Additional writing by Rachel Sullivan
Producer Rishika Sharma
Associate Producers Syma Mohammed and Nathanael Taylor
Production Assistant is Alex Thiel and Carolina Garrigo
Theme music and original composition by Kevin J Simon
Music edit, sound design, and mix by Rob Ballingall
Music supervision by Justin Morris
Executive Producer and Writer Halle Petro
PRX Executive Producer Jocelyn Gonzalez

Out Travel The System is recorded with Sonic Union in New York City.

Alright, tune in next week, where we speak with neuroscientist David Strayer about why your phone is ruining your vacation.

Till next time, this is your host, Nisreene Atassi, for Out Travel The System. Find us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. Happy travels!