Miles Away Podcast Episode 26: Planning One of America’s Greatest Road Trips

Jul 1, 2019

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From French Polynesia to Munich’s Oktoberfest, our first 25 episodes of Miles Away have taken us on a magical journey to every corner of the globe. This week, however, we’re sticking closer to home, focused on one of the great American road trips — perhaps even one of the greatest in the world.

Today, we’re joined by travel expert Lee Abbamonte, one of the youngest people to have traveled to every single country in the world. Lee joins me for a chat with TPG travel editor Melanie Lieberman, sharing some ideal itinerary options, detailing expenses you should factor in and offering up some tips for how to stay entertained when you have hundreds of miles of road ahead of you.

You can listen to this episode of Miles Away above, or listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, including:

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If you have any questions, thoughts or topics you’d like us to cover on the Miles Away podcast, please send us an email at, tweet me at @zachhonig or find me on Instagram — I’m @zachhonig there as well. And please don’t forget to subscribe!

(Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

Full Transcript:

Zach Honig: Welcome back to Miles Away. So today we are focusing on road tripping in the southwestern United States, specifically the Four Corners. So that includes Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado and where those four states meet. And we have two very special guests with us. First, we have Lee Abbamonte, one of the world’s most traveled people, I would say.

Lee Abbamonte: I hope so. I’ve certainly traveled a lot.

Zach Honig: You’ve been to every country in the world and then some, because you’ve revisited a handful of countries multiple times.

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, quite a few places. Been to both the North and South Pole, been to every state in America and every national park in America as well.

Zach Honig: And you just finished that national park tour, was it last year?

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, last August, actually, and then they went and added another national park, so I’m actually going next week to go to Indiana Dunes National Park.

Zach Honig: Oh, so where’s Indiana Dunes?

Lee Abbamonte: It’s on the shores of Lake Michigan, in Indiana. It’s about an hour and a half from Chicago.

Zach Honig: Very cool, all right. It’s like those Starbucks people that want to go to every Starbucks in the world. There’s no way to keep up with them.

Melanie Lieberman: Never, ever.

Lee Abbamonte: So annoying, so annoying.

Zach Honig: And that other voice we have is Melanie Lieberman, our travel editor at TPG.

Melanie Lieberman: Hi, Zach.

Zach Honig: Thanks for joining us, Melanie.

Melanie Lieberman: Thanks for having me back.

Zach Honig: And so you’re a bit of a road tripper, as well, and a hiker and a climber.

Melanie Lieberman: Yeah, I am all of those things, although I will say I’m super excited for this particular episode, because I do most of my road tripping outside of the US. So I am excited to learn about some other options for me without having to buy an international plane ticket first.

Zach Honig: I am, too. So Lee, what is a road trip, exactly? What makes a road trip a road trip?

Lee Abbamonte: According to the Dictionary of Lee, a road trip would be a journey in which you are driving, by yourself or with other people, via road, and you make multiple stops. And there’s no better place in the world to do a road trip than the United States. I’ve driven almost every damn highway in America and it is just beautiful, especially out west.

Zach Honig: How many times have you done a road trip out west?

Lee Abbamonte: Honestly, hundreds, and I’m not even exaggerating. I went to business school in Arizona, and Arizona and California are the two most beautiful states in the country and just perfect for road tripping. And the other thing is, no matter how many times you do it — like, if you go to The Grand Canyon probably 10 times or something like that — it’s always going to be different, because the weather’s different, the lighting is different. The experience is different, and there’s always things that you miss along the way.

Zach Honig: So tell me a little bit about the Four Corners and our road trip of the day.

Lee Abbamonte: I would say that the most beautiful part of America is around Four Corners. So as you said before, it’s a convergence of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, and within that realm, within a few hours… First of all, you could drive about 100 miles an hour out there, so when I say a few hours, that could be like 300 miles. There’s a ton to do and just the natural beauty, the color of the rocks — especially if you get towards sunset and you get that amazing kind of purplish-bluey-pink-vanilla sky — it’s just there’s no sky like it in the world. I always say Arizona has the most beautiful sunsets, and as you get closer to Four Corners, the sunsets just get amazing. The colors get amazing. The natural landscapes are incredible, and it’s just something that really has to be seen. I always tell every American that they should road trip their own country before, or at least at some point, during their international travels as well.

Zach Honig: So do you do these road trips in a car? Do you get a van? Do you get a camper? An RV?

Lee Abbamonte: No, I just rent a car or I go with friends or whatever. I don’t like camping and I don’t like RVs.

Melanie Lieberman: Do you have a type of car that you always rent? Is there something you prefer?

Lee Abbamonte: I prefer SUVs, like, good SUVs, because I find that they’re just great for all types of roads and sometimes on these road trips, especially in some of the more remote parks, the roads are not paved, so if you have a Prius or something like that, it might not be so good for off-roading.

Zach Honig: So I always rent through National. If you have an AmEx Platinum card, you can get Executive Status and then if you have Executive Status, you can then pick any car that they have, pretty much, on the lot. And so if you book a full-size car, you can grab an SUV. They actually have Infiniti cars and you don’t have to pay to upgrade to an SUV.

Lee Abbamonte: That’s good to know. I always struggle, actually, with rental cars. That’s the one thing I’m just not really involved with the programs.

Zach Honig: Yeah, they’re not very exciting, for the most part.

Lee Abbamonte: No, they’re not.

Zach Honig: It’s not like, oh you get to stay in a Park Hyatt or St. Regis or fly in business or first class. There’s nothing really all that sexy about rental car programs, but definitely a good tip with the AmEx Platinum card, for sure.

Melanie Lieberman: Good perks.

Lee Abbamonte: Noted, because rental cars are the one thing where I usually just take the cheapest option and then upgrade if I can.

Zach Honig: Let’s talk a little bit about an itinerary. So an ideal itinerary — where would you fly in to begin your trip and where would you fly out of and what are the key stops along the way?

Lee Abbamonte: Sure, I mean, if we’re talking about the Southwest, I think that Las Vegas or Phoenix would be an ideal starting point. And let’s go from Phoenix, right? So if you start in Phoenix, you could drive about two hours just up to Sedona, Arizona, and if you haven’t been there, it’s one of the best places to hike and it has just great food and cute little shops and great sunsets and the whole thing. And then it’s just another hour up to the Grand Canyon, and you’ll pass Flagstaff along the way, which is a cool little town.

Lee Abbamonte: And then from there, you can go up and choose, basically, if you want to go up through Monument Valley or go around, up to Page, Arizona, where you can visit Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, which unless you’ve been under an Instagram stone, you could see everybody on earth posting about them in recent years.

Lee Abbamonte: And then just across the river, basically, from Page, is Lake Powell, in Utah, and Utah has some of the best parks in the world, and Zion and Bryce and Canyonlands and Arches. It’s just amazing. And then you can kind of mosey on over toward Four Corners and either end around Durango, Colorado or just head up to Grand Junction, which is also beautiful, and you’ll pass through a few more national parks. And even go out to Denver, if you want, which is a great town to end in, so maybe Phoenix via Utah, out to Grand Junction or Denver.

Zach Honig: And how many days would it take you to do a trip like this?

Lee Abbamonte: Well, I guess it depends how fast you drive and how much hiking you like to do. I mean, the Grand Canyon alone should take a couple days. I mean, whether you hike down into it, which I recommend, or do a rafting trip, or do a helicopter. I mean, there’s so much to see and do there.

Lee Abbamonte: Flagstaff is worth checking out. Sedona’s definitely worth a day or two, and Page has a ton to do. You can go into Lake Powell, which is just beautiful. They have the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area over there, which is one of the more beautiful waterways in America. It’s just really incredible. And take aerial flights, and of course, there’s two Antelope Canyons. There’s lower and upper, and you have to make reservations. I mean, ideally, I’d say 10 days to two weeks to do something like that, but I mean, you could do it faster. If you drove a straight shot, it would only be about 12 hours, so I mean, you could do it to your own speed.

Melanie Lieberman: How much do you like to plan your road trips? I think this is one thing where people really differ on. You can sort of pre-book everything and have your hotels all scheduled, or you can kind of wing it. What’s your approach to that?

Lee Abbamonte: I book my road trips the exact way I book my regular trips. I buy the shell flights. Using the example I just gave, I’d buy into Phoenix and out of Denver on a certain day and then I’d just figure everything else out along the way.

Lee Abbamonte: Like for instance, in October, I literally just today bought a flight to Shanghai and then a flight out of Tokyo two weeks later, and I’m just going to figure it out in between. So that’s exactly how I do it.

Zach Honig: Let’s talk about seasonality, because actually I went to Phoenix. I’ve only been to Arizona once, and it was for 24 hours, years ago, in September. I remember it was so, so hot in September, and I’m like, “You know what?” I actually went for a hike in the Phoenix area, but it was brutal. So would you recommend these hikes for the summer? What seasons makes the most sense? And I guess this even factors into the driving, too, because cars perform better in more mild weather, and things like that.

Lee Abbamonte: If you did a hike in Phoenix in September, I’m assuming you did Camelback Mountain?

Zach Honig: That’s exactly right, yeah.

Lee Abbamonte: And if you do that, you’ve got to leave at like 5:30 in the morning to avoid the heat.

Zach Honig: I did not.

Lee Abbamonte: If you do it during the middle of the day, you’re basically a dead man. But yeah, obviously, you want to avoid Phoenix or Palm Springs in the middle of the summer, essentially, but it does get a lot more comfortable as you go later on. But as you go north in Arizona, remember, Flagstaff has skiing, so it’s at elevation. They have mountains, so it’s pretty pleasant all year ’round. And if you go a little bit further north, The Grand Canyon, if you go in the winter, there’ll be snow.

Lee Abbamonte: It’s really amazing to see it in the winter versus the summer. If you see it in the summer, it’s just that perfect kind of reddish-pinkish-brown that you see everywhere, but if you go in the winter, it’s just beautiful and nobody goes up there, and there’ll be nobody else on the South Rim there with you.

Zach Honig: Which time of year would you pick for your very first southwestern road trip?

Lee Abbamonte: If I’ve never been before, I would say maybe go around October/November, because then you’ll be comfortable and you’ll see kind of that red that’s so beautiful. And really, that’s what everybody should see, but then at the same time, if you’ve done it before, it’s kind of like golf. You could do the same thing twice and it’s always different. That’s how road trips are, too, especially if you go at different times of year.

Melanie Lieberman: Also, don’t they close some of the access roads during the winter? One of the rims, I think, is pretty inaccessible.

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, sometimes they do close, so you have to check. Their website’s usually pretty good with which ones are closed. Or if you don’t check ahead of time, they’ll tell you at the ranger station when you enter the park. You’ll also see, I mean, they just literally close the roads. But The Grand Canyon, especially the South Rim, is very well touristed, and they do a pretty good job keeping those roads open.

Melanie Lieberman: Okay. And even in the winter, is it safe to go? Are there people around all the time? Are there just as many rangers?

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, the South Rim, especially, because so many tourists go there. It’s very safe. If you go in the winter, there’ll be less people, but there’s still also always national park police and rangers around, so you never feel alone, even if you might not be around a ton of people like you would be in the summer.

Zach Honig: So I want to talk a little bit about cost. A lot of the destinations that we talk about here on Miles Away are, you know, we’ve got cities and resort destinations, things like that. So you have a lot of expenses, potentially. This, once you have your rental car, you’re driving around. You’re kind of exploring the wilderness, but there are some costs associated with it and some preparation that you need to do in advance, right? Can you kind of walk us through what passes do you need? How do you go about getting permits, if that’s something you need, as well?

Lee Abbamonte: Sure, there’s definitely a cost involved, obviously. I mean, let’s say you spend two weeks. First of all, you’ve got to rent a car for two weeks and you guys know that if you rent in one place and then drop off in another place, you have to pay the drop-off destination fee, which can be expensive, so shop around a little bit. The more you look, the better deals you can usually find, and then of course, if you can find some discount codes, not that I would recommend Googling stuff that you’re not a part of, but that’s definitely a possibility and you could save hundreds of dollars, literally.

Lee Abbamonte: But with regards to permits you mentioned, get a National Parks Pass. They’re like 80 dollars for the entire year, and then you don’t have to pay entry into any National Park Service site, so that includes national parks, national monuments, national recreation areas. So everything that I mentioned before would be included in that, and costs for hotels, obviously, can add up, so just plan accordingly. Google where you think you’re going to be staying and check out what’s available. There’s a lot of points hotels out there. Accor has a lot of hotels, obviously, Marriott — I stay a lot of Springhill Suites and Courtyards now that Marriott and Starwood are merged, and generally they don’t cost that much — they could be like 60 to 100 dollars — so you have to weigh the actual cost of the hotel versus how much points it is, just like you would anywhere else, but it’s shocking how much money you can actually save and how inexpensively you can stay in decent places.

Lee Abbamonte: I mean, obviously, depending on your budget, they also have Super 8s and Motel 6s and things like that, Extended Stay America, that type of deal. I mean, I’ve honestly never stayed in those places, but obviously, there’s a million of them and people do it.

Zach Honig: Who would you say a trip like this is for? Is this something that you would do with young kids, with a family? Would you do this as a couple? A solo trip? I’m sure there’s various levels of expertise required, depending on the hiking that you want to do and maybe some climbing, things like that.

Lee Abbamonte: Sure, I’ve done road trips all different kinds of ways, with different types of people, and it really depends on the type of trip you want to do. First of all, I wish my parents took me out west to do a road trip like this as a kid. I would have been like a pig in s**t, honestly. I would have been because all the hiking you can do is just so much fun, and I’m 40 years old and I love it. I still run and jump and climb everything I can possibly see, so if I was like eight years old, it just would have been heaven for me, so if I was to have kids, I would be sure to do that.

Lee Abbamonte: But also, I do it with friends, because it’s great for hiking and sightseeing, or you could do it as a couple, because there’s lots of awesome things you could do. Places like Sedona have some of these intimate, awesome boutique luxury places. Horseshoe Bend and these types of places are just great, and so if you’re a guy or a girl and you like nature, there’s no limit to who should be able to do it.

Melanie Lieberman: The one thing that comes to mind for me is that I love the idea of doing a lot of these things as a solo trip, but I hate solo road trips because I really love having that other person in the car. When you are too tired, it’s nice to be able to trade on and off, and especially with the hiking out there, if you’re in unfamiliar terrain… For me, I feel like this is one of those trips that I would feel better having at least one other person in the car to keep you on track.

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up, because I’ve done a lot of solo road trips out in the west. Just last summer, when I was trying to finish going to all the national parks, I flew into Denver, landed at eight in the morning or something, got in the car, drove to Rocky Mountain National Park, got caught in a blizzard. And this was in June, by the way. Got out, did some hiking, and then I drove up to South Dakota, like where Mount Rushmore is, over there. And then I spent the night there, went to Wind Cave National Park, and then from there, I drove six hours up to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, hiked around for six hours, and then drove all the way back to South Dakota. So that was like 14 hours of driving by myself in one day, plus hours of hiking.

Lee Abbamonte: And you know what? It didn’t really bother me, but I’m kind of like that, and I also drive fast and listen to music loud. You can sing and do whatever and you see all these weird things along the road. So it really depends on the person. I mean, I would rather be by myself than be with somebody who I didn’t want to be with, because you’re in the car with them.

Melanie Lieberman: That is a great point. That is very true.

Lee Abbamonte: You’re in the car with them for a long time.

Melanie Lieberman: Okay, so travel with people you like. Got it.

Lee Abbamonte: Exactly, exactly.

Zach Honig: How do you stay entertained on these long drives? Is it just stopping constantly to look at scenery? Do you listen to podcasts? I know you mentioned blasting music. Do you have a playlist that you make?

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, so what I do, basically, is obviously, you have to set goals, so if you’re going to … let’s say your destination is six hours away. You set intermittent goals. So if you look at a map, there’s always going to be something worth checking out, even if it’s just some little old Western town that you’ve never heard of or even just a gas station. That’s your goal. So you set little goals. Then you always have something to look forward to, because you know you have, like, 500 miles to drive, but in 150 miles, there’s something.

Lee Abbamonte: I also love satellite radio. So I’m a huge sports fan, so I could listen to ESPN or Mad Dog Radio all day and just listen to the commentary and to me, that’s really entertaining, especially when it’s national, so it’s different than just hearing New York Sports Radio, like you do here.

Lee Abbamonte: And of course music. But always look on the map and see what’s there, because you’ll be surprised what you come across. And then always leave some flexibility for the things you pass, like these roadside attractions like the Prada in Marfa or something like that, because you might not know it’s there.

Zach Honig: Like a skunk zoo or something. What’s the most random thing that you’ve encountered on the road?

Lee Abbamonte: There’s some really weird stuff. I think I passed… I don’t remember what town it was — it was somewhere in California or Nevada, something like that — The World’s Largest Thermometer, or something really stupid. Oh, and I passed this jerky shop, right? And I like beef jerky, so I went in and their sign on the outside of the little house where they sell jerky was, “If it bleeds, you can jerk it.” So I had to go in there, and, yeah, you just run into weird stuff like that.

Zach Honig: All right, so we’re going to take a quick break and then when we come back, we’re going to dig into some somewhat limited points and miles options for your road trip throughout the Southwest.

[Commercial break.]

Zach Honig: Lee, have you ever slept in your car on the road or is it always looking for hotels, campsites?

Lee Abbamonte: Well, I’ve definitely slept in the car, never necessarily by choice. It’s usually out of necessity. For instance, I think it was two years ago, I was going to North Cascades National Park, which is in northern Washington State, and I landed in Seattle at midnight and then I had this great idea to just rent the car and then just drive up there and get there right at sunset and I figured I’d just get a hotel, and of course, the little town on the edge of the national park, that no one’s ever heard of anyway, had no hotels. They had a post office and a police station, which was the same thing, and I just ended up sleeping in my crappy rental car right there.

Zach Honig: All government workers.

Lee Abbamonte: There was a phone to call if you needed assistance. I called like a thousand times. No one answered, so I was like, “Screw it. I’m going to bed.”

Zach Honig: But for Four Corners, you have quite a few options in that area, especially as you’re driving throughout the Southwest. If you’re planning it out correctly, I’m sure you can find a decent hotel to stay in each night. The rates probably vary considerably from one season to the next, but there’s quite a few points options, as well.

Zach Honig: So you had mentioned Marriott before, but especially now, with Marriott being as big as it is, between Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, there’s plenty of options throughout your trip.

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, there’s definitely options and like we were mentioning, cash rates usually aren’t that bad, and obviously it depends on your budget, but if 50 to 80 dollars is affordable, you could always find something to stay in that range, generally. Any type of little roadside town will have a Motel 6, a Super 8, usually like a Hampton Inn, Springhill Suites, that type of thing, and then just some random hotels like Tater’s Motel. Just something random that you’ve never heard of before.

Zach Honig: What’s your go-to chain hotel for some of these road trips? I mean, you see some of the same brands from one town to the next.

Lee Abbamonte: Well, I’m still anti the Marriott-Starwood acquisition, but it is what it is, and I can’t change it, so I generally stay in either a Springhill, a Courtyard, Fairfield Inn or one of the Marriott properties, if possible. And if not, I’ll usually go for a Hilton property, so like a Garden Inn or the Hampton Inn or something. Hampton’s another one that you see everywhere, in places that you’d never expect, like Amarillo, Texas, things like that.

Lee Abbamonte: So there’s always options, and of course again, Motel 6, Extended Stay America… I mean, those places can be like $19.99 a night. It’s crazy.

Zach Honig: Wow, really? Free HBO too, right?

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, exactly, and maybe free Internet.

Zach Honig: No, I mean, for me, I’ve been saving up my Hilton points for a Conrad, maybe going back to the Conrad Maldives, things like that, but you can get a lot of value at some of these smaller roadside hotels. I mean, they’re available for pretty reasonable numbers of points.

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, I agree, and the Marriott ones that I deal with the most, you can get a lot of times Category 2 and 3 hotels for really cheap amounts of points, and I always convert everything back to what they were with Starwood, and then you really feel like you’re getting a deal if you divide it by three.

Zach Honig: That’s a good strategy, Lee. I appreciate that. So let’s assume that you’re getting most of your hotels on points, potentially. What kind of expenses are you looking at for a trip like this? Can you kind of walk us through maybe a rough budget?

Lee Abbamonte: Sure. Again, the biggest expense will be, obviously, the flights there and back and of course, the rental car with the destination drop-off fee, and you can’t underestimate how much gas costs, especially kind of in the middle of nowhere places, because even if it’s let’s say, two dollars here in the metro area, out in the middle of nowhere in Nevada, it could be like five or six dollars, like, legitimately.

Lee Abbamonte: And you also have to take in mind that sometimes the gas station you see, even if you have a half a tank, you might not see another gas station for two hours. So I always tell people, if you have the opportunity to fill up, just do it, because you don’t want to be in that situation where you’ve run out of gas, because trust me, it’s happened to me at least three or four times, and it’s a f***ing nightmare.

Melanie Lieberman: What do you do in that situation? Do you have AAA?

Lee Abbamonte: Yes, if you have phone service, but if you don’t then you have to run out in the middle of the highway like a madman, flagging people down, which I’ve literally had to do before, and it’s just literally not fun, because let’s say they pick you up. Then you still got to get back to your car with a watering can of gas, basically, to pour into your car. It’s crazy.

Zach Honig: I’ve never had to do that, but it’s probably one of my worst nightmares.

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, it sucked.

Zach Honig: It’s bringing back memories of Yosemite, because when I was in Yosemite last year, there was like one gas station in the park and it’s not in a convenient area at all, and you do so much driving, and so you really need to plan it out. If you don’t have a full tank at the very last station before going into some of these parks, you could end up getting stranded or having to spend a small fortune to fill up your car.

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, and gas stations in national parks always jack up the prices like a dollar or two per gallon, but yeah, you always fill up. I mean, yeah, it sucks, but just pay it, because it’s much better than getting stuck. Trust me.

Zach Honig: So what about food? Are you eating MREs or restaurants?

Lee Abbamonte: I might be the only person in America who loves Denny’s, but I eat at a lot of Denny’s, because they’re there.

Zach Honig: You’re obviously not the only person in America that loves Denny’s. You’re the only person I know that loves Denny’s.

Lee Abbamonte: There’s always restaurants and then there’s tons of roadside places to stop, get a lot of junk food. Now, eating healthy on road trips is a whole other thing. You almost have to be in a real city to get any type of options aside from like, Doritos at a gas station or some disgusting gas station pizza or muffin or something, but there are options. You’ve just got to plan ahead, and of course, you can always bring food.

Lee Abbamonte: Oh, the other thing that they always have is Subway. Subway is everywhere, and I eat a lot of Subway and you can get healthy options there.

Melanie Lieberman: We were talking earlier about what is the definition of a road trip, and for me, I think a huge part of it is actually the arsenal of snacks that you keep in the back, because that is always my job on the road trip, preparing the snacks, and I think that is just such a part of being out on the road and eating things that you would never let yourself eat back home. I think that’s a lot of what’s so fun about it.

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, there’s definitely things you eat on a road trip because there’s not really many options that you wouldn’t normally eat at home.

Melanie Lieberman: Yeah.

Zach Honig: So you’re flying into usually a major city, and so there’s probably a Walmart or at least a grocery store. Do you stock up on a whole bunch of stuff and just kind of load up the car with snacks and things like that?

Lee Abbamonte: Yeah, I mean, that’s basically what you would do. I mean, any two or three hours, even if it’s not a major city, there will be a place where it’s a population center where people are and they’ll have, even if it’s like a Piggly Wiggly or something like that.

Zach Honig: What is a Piggly Wiggly?

Lee Abbamonte: Piggly Wiggly is a lovely supermarket that’s synonymous with the South, and if you go in there, it’s fun to say Piggly Wiggly, but they have everything that we have up here, too.

Zach Honig: And then any other expenses you should keep in mind? I mean, what clothing? You need to buy special clothes, some hiking boots, things like that?

Lee Abbamonte: I mean, I have the clothes, so I just bring it. I have some options, because if you’re hiking, you’re going to be sweating, and there’s nothing worse than sitting in your own sweat, sitting in a car for six hours, if it’s 1,000 degrees out. So just plan accordingly.

Zach Honig: The one last thing that I wanted … We’re almost out of time, but I want to touch on kind of your mindset going into a trip like this. I mean, if you’re used to being a luxury traveler… Obviously, we have a lot of readers and listeners that prefer to fly business and first class and stay in The Four Seasons and Aman Hotels or whatever it may be. Is this a trip that you’re going to be able to easily prepare yourself for, or should you have different expectations going into it?

Lee Abbamonte: I’m glad you asked that, and I happen to be one of those people who enjoy those things you just said, but at the same time, I also like adventure stuff and roughing it and don’t mind it. It’s all about mindset. That’s the perfect word for it. You realize what you’re getting yourself into. You accept it and you look at the adventure side of it, not the gross Motel 6 or Denny’s. So you just have to realize what you’re doing, where you’re going, and that’s part of the adventure, and that’s travel, to me — being able to adapt.

Lee Abbamonte: And I always say, to be a real traveler, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and a lot of times on road trips, you’re going to get exactly that.

Zach Honig: Well, thank you so much for joining us, Lee. How can people follow along with your various adventures all around the world?

Lee Abbamonte: Thanks, as always, for having me, and they can follow me at or on any social media, @leeabbamonte.

Zach Honig: And Melanie, how about you?

Melanie Lieberman: You can follow me anywhere @melanietaryn. You can find me that way on Instagram and Twitter and various other social outlets.

Zach Honig: Well, safe travels. Thanks for joining us.

Melanie Lieberman: Thanks for having me.

Zach Honig: Thanks. That’s it for this episode of Miles Away. Thanks again to Lee Abbamonte and Melanie Lieberman. Again, I am your host, Zach Honig. This episode was produced by Margaret Kelley and Caroline Schagrin. Our theme music is by Alex Schiff.

Zach Honig: If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate, and review us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you choose to listen.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.