Urban Excursions with Jank

Written by on August 24, 2014

Apart from raising my kids, my favorite thing to do in this world is travel. I’ve been everywhere I’ve ever wanted to go and used just about every mode of transportation to get there. In my “Urban Excursions” posts, I’ll share my experiences in many cities as well as a few other countries.

Photos by Damon “Jank” Joy

venice     DSC_0268

To be clear, these posts are written for the “urban traveller.” I use the term “urban traveller” to reference people who, like myself, are accustomed to city life and aren’t mesmerized by big fancy lights and large crowds of people. Being of that type has allowed me to go off of the beaten path and make new discoveries rarely seen by the hoards of mindless tourists.

Getting there

I’ve traveled the US in planes, trains and automobiles. While flying is obviously the quickest and most efficient method of travel, trains can be way more fun. If you like beautiful scenery, have 10-24 hours on your hands, and like drinking, the train is where it’s at. I once took the train to Denver and it was one of my most memorable “getting there” experiences ever. The more entertaining characters tend to gravitate toward, and subsequently congregate wherever liquor is served. I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that I met some very interesting people on that 20 hour ride and drank way too much.

If you are overseas the bullet trains are the business; they go fast and you get to see a lot of the country.

Busses just suck. Seriously, there is no other way to describe it. Every bus ride I have had has been an awful experience. They are cheap but, come on man…

Cars are a fine mode of transportation when travelling so long as you make sure you are riding with the right person and are aware of the tolls on your route. A road trip to Philly to cost me nearly $200 in tolls. I wasn’t readyyyyyyyyy (Kevin Hart voice).

Where to stay

I typically use the site airbnb to book rooms. Why, you ask? Well, first of all I prefer to stay in a neighborhood of my choosing as opposed to being stuck in the tourist saturated central locations where most hotels are located. Secondly, it can be drastically cheaper, I’m talking hundreds cheaper. Third, it’s somebody’s apartment which means you get all the amenities and then some. The only set back is that IT IS somebody’s apartment and that’s a little weird at first, then you remember the price you’re paying and the weird feeling gets outweighed by that amazing feeling. A nice bonus to renting people’s places is that many of the people will leave things behind for you: maps, food, and I even got a gift once.

Stuff to do

I can’t even front…I go hard on vacations. I refer to it as “maximizing my vacay.” I do lots of research before I get there about the neighborhood I’m staying in and upcoming events happening in the surrounding areas. I tend to stay far away from tourist traps, which is why I’ve been to New York 6 times and never seen the Statue of Liberty. I did, however, spend half a day trying to find Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule offices. While I didn’t find it, I did see Nelson George so it kind of worked out. I also like to set myself up with concerts, art galleries, and sneaker boutiques.

I have to add that I have a habit of wanting to see the hood in every city I visit. I don’t know why it happens but it does. Apparently my hood pass is still legit.


That’s all for now, I’ll be returning with my New York travel guide soon. If you want to avoid big crowds of tourists and still have a good time stay tuned yo!


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