If you haven't already followed the Hello America IG account, you're seriously missing out. We've been admirers of this dynamic duo for quite some time now. Their travels captured on film instantly teleport you to their location in your mind, having you daydream about how you can copy and paste their adventures and make them your own.
We recently chatted with photographer, explorer, freelance writer, and the co-creater of Hello America, Kristen Blanton while chowing down on some tacos and churros overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We know, dreamy. What was even dreamier was hearing the heart of Kristen while discussing her passions, upcoming projects, and recent explorations near and far. This kind soul and free-spirited wanderer shares some of the most intimate and authentic moments of life on the road including cooking in the back of her car and taking bathroom breaks in the desert (insert laughing emoji here) via IG. You can only imagine how excited we were to sit down with her in person - as you know, we are attracted to all the realness. And for all you fellow camp enthusiasts out there, keep scrolling for Kristen's tips so you too can be a pro adventurer.
Photography by: Hello America
Hey Kristen, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Kristen: My name is Kristen Blanton. I grew up in the panhandle of Florida in a little beach town (that is now a big beach town) and studied creative writing at NYU. I've always been a fool for nostalgia and find shooting film to most accurate way of sharing my voice in a digital world. I work as a freelance writer and photographer and am the Co-creator of Hello America, an integrative brand that tells original stories in the outdoor world across media.
What jump started Hello America and what role do you play in your team of two?
Kristen: At fourteen I wanted to travel the country by automobile and document the journey. For nine years I tried to convince my friends to hit the road with me and for nine years they politely told me, "no way." I had known Matt for a few year before we started dating and I remember when I told him about this trip. His eyes sparkled. In that moment I was keenly aware that I was only suppose to do this with him - and that we'd travel together for the rest of our lives. Three weeks later we were dating. A month and a half after that we were on the road.
My role in this duo is 100% that of the dreamer. I go big - creating insane plans, almost manic like, for exploration of new countries and traveling by sailboats and Matt always finds a way to make those dreams into a reality.
After traveling across the country did you deal with anything that most people don't think of?
Kristen: When we finished the initial 5 month road trip I was unable to go back to many creature comforts. Maybe that's something you'd expect, I don't know. I knew I would be different but I didn't realize just how much surplus would physically make me ill. It took us another year and half before settling in one place and we still have trouble buying things to put in our home (which is a great thing really.) I'm really honored I learned the value of what I need vs what I want while in my developing stages as an early 20-something.
How have other women helped you along the way?
Kristen: I have had the love and support of so many sister friends, new and old. From women reaching out to me offering their own mothers houseboat to sleep on to inviting me to hike and climb to buying me meals and booze to offering a sympathetic ear and insane encouragement and support. Many female driven platforms in media and print have also reached out and shared my story. Pursuing this passion has allowed me to connect with so many badass photographers, designers and directors. Some of them have become my dearest friends.
What's a quote that you look to when time get tough?
Kristen: I have two!
"When it all goes quiet behind my eyes I see everything that made me."
"I'll tell you in another life when we're both cats."
So, you're basically a pro adventurer. Any tips for other travelers on the road?
My go-to do's and don'ts consist of:
Don't buy water. Use reusable bottles and fill up at gas stations, national parks and any hose you see along your route. Buying water adds up in the budget and it's a waste of resources as we are lucky to live in a developed nation that has available drinking water.
Do buy a National Parks Pass. They are $80, you're supporting your parks and they are good for 12 months. It's a great way to give back and it's also a steal if you go to more than 4 parks a year.
Do be flexible with your schedule but don't drive blindly. Make sure you have an idea of where you want to go and when but be flexible enough to detour for that bizarre statue in Kansas or that hot spring you heard about from a fellow road warrior.
Do check the weather. Always. Especially if you're hiking, especially if you're camping. Really, just always check the weather.
Don't get to in your head. At times I'd find myself feeling anxious or creating these scenarios that just weren't real. Check yourself and talk through whatever emotions you are experiencing but don't let them overpower reality.
Don't bring a lot of clothes. Look at your pack and then takeaway half of the pile. I promise you'll STILL have clothes you didn't wear stuffed at the bottom, five months later.
Do bring a first aid kit, do burn mixtapes that include Willie Nelson and Cass McCombs, and get lost as much as you can.
Photography by: Hello America