Last weekend I took a trip to Vancouver, Canada. This was how I saw it:
Last weekend I took a trip to Vancouver, Canada. This was how I saw it:
This isn’t my usual style or topic for blogging, but I have a few things to say about a particular issue.
First, I love YouTube. It’s great. For the first time ever, people who don’t have access to a major movie studio, multimillion-dollar budgets, and expensive equipment can compete against the big dogs…and win. YouTube has turned everyday consumers into superstars who have more followers, fans, and social influence than many A-list celebrities. It’s shaken up the way we consume video content to such a degree that mega brands have restructured how they produce content just to keep up with that YouTube “nobody” who’s crushing it online.
Now, if you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably seen the controversial viral video making its rounds. I’m not going to link to it, but if you type in “Killing Best Friend Prank” anywhere, I’m sure you’ll find it.
For those of you who don’t know, a successful YouTube prankster named Sam Pepper decided it’d be a great idea to “prank” a friend by kidnapping him and forcing him to watch his best friend get shot.
In Pepper’s own words: “Let’s see how he reacts to his best friend of five years being killed in front of him!”
He literally threw Sam Golbach in the back of a car, then tied him to a chair on a rooftop, and had him watch a masked man “shoot” his best friend in the head. The video is full of Golbach screaming, crying, and pleading. The production quality is so high that they even cut the sound and added an emotional musical score while Golbach cries over his friend’s body. You know, to tug at our heart strings. All fantastic elements to a dramatic Law & Order episode. Except that it wasn’t a scripted episode. At least not to the one who was pranked. Those were real tears of horror. All in the name of a good prank, right?
My first response was WTF?
My second was, at what point were we supposed to laugh during this prank? Aren’t pranks supposed to be funny?
People around the internet are calling him sadistic and disgusting. Some are even asking him to be banned from YouTube. All understandable responses to a truly upsetting video.
But my main question is why? Why make that video?
And I think I figured it out (although you are free to still call him sadistic and leave it at that). I like to call it the YouTube Success Syndrome. When you make it big on YouTube, you start to see it as your career. In fact, it becomes your career. There’s a lot of pressure and expectation to produce amazing videos each time you post. Not only that, you want to stay relevant and on top. So you keep trying to one-up yourself. You can’t put out crappy content, or your career will be over as quickly as it started. So what can Sam Pepper do? Well, he can put out a video that’s going to be so controversial or ridiculous or funny or disgusting or amazing that it will send him straight to the top. Until he has to one-up himself again. And the cycle repeats.
Let’s take it a step further. When the cycle keeps repeating, eventually someone is going to cross the line, right? But where is the line? What makes YouTube great, in most cases, is that there is no line. Or, rather, the creators and fans define it. In traditional television, everything you see on your TV is approved by the network. They draw the line. What’s too gruesome? What’s too risqué? What’s too offensive? Certain things are censored before they reach your television set. With YouTube, what the creator makes goes straight to the viewer. No tape, no censorship.
So when someone arguably crosses the line, the internet enforces itself. We as fans or viewers become the moral compass. And if you just take a look at any Twitter feed, it’s clear that people love being the moral compass in controversy.
Here’s my main problem with prank videos as a whole: I’m not a big fan of success at the expense of others. The pranksters are making a profit off someone else’s pain/anger/embarrassment and, in this case, horror and suffering. Fun, innocent pranks? Great, no problem. But we’re clearly not talking about that here. This video was full of real emotion and pain…unless, of course, this whole video is a huge prank on the internet, and they were all in on the joke.
Another big problem with many YouTubers (and any brand on the internet) is their obsession with views, stats, likes, and monetization. When that’s your motivation, you’re no longer making videos you truly want to make. You’re making videos so they go viral. So they get attention. So you can become more important and successful in the public eye. That doesn’t always translate to the best (or smartest) video.
I think that was definitely the case here. If it weren’t for Pepper’s thirst to be successful on YouTube, would he ever prank-kidnap and kill his friends? I don’t think so. There would be no point. This was done purely for shock value. Sam wanted the outrage. He wanted the attention. He lost focus of what a prank is while trying to make the craziest, most viral video possible. I’d say he succeeded. As of this writing, the video has 4 million views. I’m risking giving him more attention by writing about him, but then again, I only have 36 subscribers on YouTube, so who am I? You might think Sam Pepper is a (insert your descriptive insult here), but he’s a (insert your descriptive insult here) that everyone is talking about.
The lure of success can grab us all. So before posting that CRAZY, CONTROVERSIAL, OMG video that’s going to blow up the internet, use some common sense.
Common sense for posting on YouTube:
I had a lot of extra footage from my NorCal road trip. I didn’t want to let it go to waste, so I made another video. I wanted to take the traditional “how to” video and put my own spin on it. I hope you enjoy:
I’m not shy about my feelings towards L.A. There are many things I don’t like about this city. These include but are not limited to: trendy cupcakes, trendy green juice, $14 salads, a sense of entitlement, an alarming number of grown men and women who are still children, small parking lots, no parking lots, people who are on the gluten-free diet but also don’t know what gluten is, and a lack of water.
But the worst part of this city, without question, is the LA traffic. There are just too many people in this city. There are too many cars trying to get to the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, and Santa Monica Pier. Highway pileups begin way before 5pm. City gridlock can happen anywhere, at anytime. For drivers in LA, going 10 miles can easily take an hour.
People have been trying to find solutions for years: carpool lanes, anti-gridlock zones, and certain no left turns at peak traffic hours. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a fix for the LA traffic problem. Getting around is a major struggle for everyone.
You have to be resourceful. You have to find shortcuts and tricks. And they don’t always work. What may be a shortcut one day could add 30 minutes to your commute the next day. But the one thing you can always count on LA for having is trends. And just like its annoying green juice trend, LA has driving trends too.
Turo’s (previously known as RelayRides) Los Angeles car rental crew recently put together a drivers guide to getting around the city. In it, they share tips and tricks from local bloggers who know the city best. What I immediately recognized in most of the answers was trends. Thanks to apps like Waze and Uber, people are moving around the city differently. Instead of driving and parking, people are spending the extra money to take an Uber. People’s favorite “secret” shortcuts are being exposed because of apps like Waze. Trends change the game. It will be interesting to see what sticks and what doesn’t. Here’s that infographic.
If you looked at it closely, you might have seen a familiar name. Yep, right at the bottom left there – yours truly. Now this whole article makes sense, Randy!
Turo is a peer-to-peer car sharing service. Think of AirBnB for cars! People who have a vehicle to spare can rent it out to someone in need. Renters always have a variety of cars available to them, and at much cheaper rates than you’d find at more traditional rental services or airports.
One of Turo’s most appealing features is its large mixture of model options. Since your selection is pooled from real people all over the city, not just a garage or a lot with a few different models, you have a much bigger variety of cars to choose from. If I’m trying to plan a road trip up in the mountains, I’m not going to want the same type of vehicle that I’d pick for city exploration.
I love the way that the internet and technology are connecting people and ideas. I love that these new ideas are creating trends that change how we do things. Turo isn’t going to fix LA traffic, but LA is certainly a perfect city for a cool service like this. It’s also the perfect city to rent a car and GTFO using Turo. Check them out here:
Go trip yourself.
I’m not the type of person who wastes time during vacations. If I’m visiting a new place I try to see everything I can in the small amount of time I have. Only once I feel like I’ve seen everything, then I can relax. It’s just how I’m wired.
Most people hate going on vacation with me, especially if I’m filming. These are the types of things I say:
“THERE ARE TWO HOURS OF SUNLIGHT LEFT. WE CAN GET TO THE NEXT 18 PLACES IF WE HURRY!”
“WHY WOULD YOU TAKE A NAP RIGHT NOW?!”
“I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS. WE HAVE TO GET THIS SHOT.”
Believe it or not, I managed to convince two friends to come on a week-long road trip with me through Northern California. I probably won them over when I pitched the beautiful bluffs of the Pacific Coast Highway, the scenic drive up to Glacier Point in Yosemite, and the peaceful Emerald Bay of Lake Tahoe. But I knew it wouldn’t be all pretty landscapes.
Meet Charles and Jinelle. Actually just Jinelle. You already met Charles in my Salton Sea video. I’m just going to assume all my readers have my videos memorized and know exactly who I’m talking about. Jinelle is our friend from Michigan who actually flew out just for the trip! I must have really pitched road trip idea well! We go way back to the middle school years. And we met Charles in college. The three of us get along great, especially when they do what I want them to do.
Anyway, we had one week to make this trip happen. I told them where we’d be going: Yosemite, Tahoe, Shasta, Avenue of the Giants, San Francisco, and Big Sur. It was an ambitious plan to see so many world-renowned places in seven days. And each place would probably be better explored in seven days on their own. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from having an awesome adventure. I was going to see as much of NorCal as I could.
Jinelle flew into LAX at 10:30PM and we began our adventure at 3:50AM. Actually, that’s the perfect lead in to this video. You’ll see why:
I promise it’s somewhat entertaining. And it’s short.
I posted this video to Reddit and other social media sites. These were some of the responses I got:
“You go to see beautiful sites in nature and then B**@#($& about not finding a hotel? Try camping. LOSER!”
“I hate when people travel just to check things off their bucket list instead of actually spending time to enjoy a place.”
Personally, I think a more constructive criticism would have been about Charles’ wardrobe choices:
As the video showed, the trip was fast, fun, and full of some amazing scenery. This is the type of trip I like to take and I hope I can do more in the future. Unfortunately this thing called real life gets in the way right now. If you’d like to sponsor me, I’d be willing to take monthly payments so I can buy a tent, take longer, more meaningful trips, and silence my critics. I’m very sensitive to their opinions.
Don’t wait for the perfect moment, situation, or right way to travel. As always, go trip yourself!
I wanted to write a quick post and share two new videos. A few weeks ago, my friend Charles and I took a day trip to Vasquez Rocks. I’m sure you’ve seen Vasquez Rocks, even if you don’t recognize the name, because it is in about 29384720639680 films and TV shows. Most notably: Star Trek, Power Rangers, The Flintstones, Austin Powers, and Planet of the Apes. It’s very easy to get to and right outside LA.
On our way back, we stopped at Charlie Brown Farms. I didn’t really do much research before we went, so I was very confused when I arrived and there was no farm. Basically it’s a shop that sells nostalgic candy, Texas BBQ, deliciously-unhealthy desserts, toys, gifts, and strange, life-size statues. Outside you’ll find Santa, locked in a fence with a Pterodactyl, lion, horses, and the Eiffel Tower. Why they are locked up, I have no idea. Why they are even there, I have no idea. I’m pretty sure you can buy some of them, though. I guess putting dinosaurs outside your home would be kind of awesome.
“Which house does Randy live in?”
“Oh you can’t miss it. It’s the one with the triceratops in the front yard!”
Anyway, if you’re planning a road trip near LA, make a pit stop at Charlie Brown Farms.
Where are all the good road trip planning resources?!
Recently, I was trying to plan a road trip up north and I realized something strange. There weren’t many road trip resources online. At least not many good ones. Or ones that have been updated since 1996. But I felt like something had to be out there. So I scoured the web, asked around in forums, and tried to find the best road trip planning resources on the web. After a more thorough search, there were actually quite a few that I would deem “good.” And not just websites, but there were also tools, apps, and people/brands contributing to the road trip and travel lifestyle.
Since I’m weird and can’t just put everything in a bookmark folder (the easy thing to do), I decided to take all the resources I found, and put them together into one neat, easy-to-read, organized list.
I call it:
Below, broken into categories, are the top resources online to help plan your ultimate road trip. As new ones pop up, I’ll be sure to update this list. If you know of other resources that provide readers with awesome road trip and travel content, feel free to suggest them in the comments below!
Updated regularly, Roadtrippers features great places to visit from the strange to the beautiful. They have a fantastic trip planner, but their articles also give readers thorough information and inspiration about the most scenic driving routes to the scariest ghost towns. Roadtrippers is king.
RoadTrip America is another good all around website. Full of travel tips, routes, interactive maps, and forums, it has your bases covered for your road trip needs.
Although it looks like they haven’t updated their website since 1996, don’t be too quick to dismiss them. Roadside America also has some great content. You’ll find some of the best offbeat attractions here. I especially like how you can sort your search by state.
Another website that may be going for the pre-Y2k look. Planning Fun Road Trips offers tips, planners, and best ofs. This site will get you up to speed quickly if you’re planning your first road trip.
If you have national parks in your road trip plans, you’ll want to remember this website. The NPS has information on every national park in each state with the information you need from park fees and hours to maps and suggested itineraries.
Just what the title says- a fantastic page that links to all of the tourism websites for each US state and territory. Pick a state and find things to do right away.
When you first open up Atlas Obscura, it’s evident that the people behind it like to explore and like to have a good time. I like the fun, personal vibe of the website and I like that it’s easy to navigate. What are you looking for? Ghost towns in California? Atlas Obscura will give you a list of places to visit, a map of where they are, and then a personal article about that location. Whenever I visit the site I usually stumble across some pretty bizarre and cool places to check out. Atlas Obscura is a new find I’m very excited about!
Are you looking for trip advice, trying to find a travel partner, or just itching to read a cool road trip story? Reddit has got you covered. Here are some of my favorite subreddits for road trips and traveling.
Punch in your estimated or actual costs for rental prices, gas, hotels, and daily budget, and the road trip calculator will come up with your total. It’s a simple way to see where most of your money is going and whether or not you can squeeze in another night of travel.
Discover America’s road trip planner is one of my favorites. Not only does it allow you to plot a point from A to B, but it lets you add and subtract attractions that are on the route. For example, if you’re taking a trip across the country, you can “turn on” museums and campgrounds and “turn off” shopping centers and airports. You can even turn on Instagram photos so a person’s travel photos will pop up along your route. Add any attraction to your itinerary straight from the map. Discover America’s road trip planner is definitely worth trying out.
If you’re looking to road trip all 48 states in one go and you want the perfect route, look no further. Randy (great name!) Olson created the most optimal and efficient route using an algorithm. The trip makes stops in each state at a national park, historic site, or other interesting landmark. Check out the link above to read more about the algorithm and chosen attractions.
There are some people who just want a basic, printable, easy-to-read trip planner. Although rare in the age of smart phones with maps and travel apps, this is a basic route planning site that lets you choose a few route options (favoring scenic routes, avoiding tolls, estimating fuel costs, etc), press submit, and receive a bare-bones itinerary. It’s old school, but if that’s your thing, take a look at this resource.
California Through My Lens gives readers a taste of California through the eyes of Josh, a man “addicted to adventure.” It’s incredible how many places this one guy has visited in California. All of his guides and articles are full of detail and include fantastic pictures. If every state had someone as awesome as Josh road tripping and sharing cool places, the states wouldn’t need tourism websites! If you’re heading to California, check out CaliforniaThroughMyLens.
Not exactly a “road tripper,” but I’d say he has enough travel under his belt to give you some awesome advice and travel inspiration. Matt is what I would call a “travel hacker” – someone who finds the cheapest, easiest, and most efficient way travel. He has a range of articles from Africa travel tips, to best gear, to how to save money for a big trip. Nomadic Matt is another travel blogging king.
Instead of having a midlife crisis Rick and Sandi are on a midlife road trip. They’re traveling the world, checking things off their bucket list, and driving around in a Weinermobile (well, not always. Unfortunately). Adventurous, fun, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. Their website is full of good information, but it’s definitely more on the entertainment side!
Wandering Earl is one of the most popular travel bloggers on the internet. He set out on a three-month trip to Asia and hasn’t stopped traveling since. He blogs about his adventures and struggles, offers tips and information, and even has his own resource books and tours. This guy is making a living off being a permanent nomad and there’s plenty to learn.
Brooke is another blogger who travels the world full time. And although you may take one look and say “Oh no, just another pretty girl traveling the world,” she’s built a pretty impressive online presence. Her website is full of quick tips, reviews, and travel stories. And she’s amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on her social media accounts. Her content is geared more towards girls in their teens and twenties, but even if you don’t fit that demographic, you can still probably find something you relate to.
I like Liz. No, I don’t actually know her. But it looks like she hustles, and I respect that. Her website is about her own adventures around the world. She’s been doing it for years and her articles give her readers tips, advice, and personal anecdotes about travel. So, no, not exactly road tripping, but I’m confident you’ll be inspired by her drive, her excellent writing style, her travel stories, her photographs, and her rad sense of adventure.
Do you like watching those food travel shows? Want to visit those same restaurants? TV Food Maps has put together a website that lists every restaurant organized by show. You can also explore by state or location and create your own road trip! A great resource for the serious foodie.
Just looking for good places to eat on the road? Road Food helps you find great local restaurants nearby. My favorite section is the Self-Guided Eating Tours.
And that’s it!
The Ultimate Road Trip Planner Internet Resource Guide. As I mentioned above, I will continue to edit this list as I find more or better resources.
If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments section below. If you already use some of these resources, I’d love to know which ones. If you hate any of these resources or just want to complain, also feel free to let me know in the comments section below.
Go trip yourself!
-Road Trip Randy