By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
In 2017, Baltimore native Kreskin J. Torres took a trip to England to stay with a friend and explore London. He ended up staying a month, taking in the food, sights and culture.
When it came time to return to the states, Torres, who drove for ride-hailing companies, realized that he wanted to take time to explore his home country before experiencing others.
“It was a great experience, and I wanted to come back and explore my country. I’ve always been creative, and I’ve always pushed the envelope of life, so I thought how can I get the most out of driving Uber and Lyft?” said Torres.
“I decided to take the show on the road and travel to other places instead of just driving around my city.”
Torres left Baltimore on Super Bowl Sunday in 2018 and traveled to Mississippi, which remains his favorite state today. His mother and sisters thought he was crazy when he started, but now, they’re proud of all he’s experienced.
Today, the 34-year-old foodie has tasted his way through all 50 states, and in the coming months, he’ll release a mobile app called Rideshare Foodies to provide others with travel tips and local recommendations across the country.
“A lot of cities in different regions are completely different from each other. The people are different, and the culture is different,” said Torres. “But, growing up in a city like Baltimore gives you a confidence and awareness that really prepares you and gives you an advantage when you travel to new places.”
Before Torres made his spontaneous decision, he took time to examine his finances.
The bulk of his money was used to pay rent, and without the monthly payment, he knew he would save nearly $10,000 a year, which could be used to fund his travels. He’d also previously held a job with a car mechanic, so he knew he could do basic maintenance on his vehicle.
Generally, Torres chooses to sleep in his car in Walmart and Home Depot parking lots, and if it gets too cold or too hot, he just moves on to the next city. Every now and then, he uses his savings to stay in an Airbnb or hotel.
He typically spent a month in each state he visited and chose four major cities to stay in each week. Now that he’s been to all 50 states, he’s focused on visiting small towns.
“Here, specifically in the country, people just haven’t seen the United States, and I think that’s the biggest problem in the country,” said Torres. “People haven’t been exposed to other cultures. They haven’t met new people, and they don’t know how to ask questions and talk to new people.”
Without traveling and experiencing places firsthand, Torres said people tend to rely on stereotypes, pop culture references and others’ impressions to evaluate a city. This can often lead to people forming biased, negative or dated perceptions that then get passed to family members and friends, according to Torres.
Throughout his travels, Torres said Idaho was the most surprising state he’s visited thus far. There, he stayed in Coeur d’Alene, a city situated in the Northwest region of the state. He considered it one of the most beautiful cities he’s seen in his life and said it was reminiscent of Hawaii.
Each time Torres visited a new city, he made a point to try foods that the state was known for, whether biscuits and chocolate gravy in Arkansas, Kool-Aid pickles in Mississippi or Mormon muffins in Utah.
His favorite dish has been chili and cinnamon rolls, a Midwest combination that he tried for the first time in Nebraska. But, he also highlighted fry bread, which he tried on various Native American reservations.
This summer, Torres will return to Baltimore. He plans to organize a “Taste of the States,” in the city, where people can experience food from cities across the country without having to take a roadtrip themselves.
“Life is an experience. People, a lot of times, try to plan everything out, or they look for 1,000 reasons not to do something instead of just experiencing it,” said Torres. “If you knew everything that was going to happen, it wouldn’t be life. Even if you plan things that don’t go well, it just becomes a story later in life.”
Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.