When I was a kid growing up in Texas, I saw Texas as being its own gigantic, dynamic country within our bigger country.  In school we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag, but it was also noted that Texas had been its own republic for almost a decade.

But, more of Texas history later.  My parents made it a point for our family to explore other parts of our country, which I later appreciated.  I did most of my traveling around the U.S. as a child, and then later when I moved back and took a job in Washington, D.C.  With the economy not being so great now, many friends I’ve talked to, and myself, find themselves vacationing closer to home.

The good thing about the U.S. is that, even when you vacation within its borders, it still usually feels like a vacation.  The United States is vast, and it has its own mini cultures nestled into one big territory.  I love continuing to explore my native country, and I appreciate the fact that, within the flexibility of federalism, each state has its own personality.  Couple this with the wide range of terrain, weather, and local agriculture, and traveling around the U.S. alone makes you want to carry your passport.

I have focused most of my time over the years on traveling abroad, but it’s important to understand your homeland as well.  I haven’t been to all 50 states, but the ones I have visited have taught me to appreciate the land I live in, with so many resources, beautiful sights, and generous people.

In conjunction with my international travel list, I added up how many states I’ve been to.  The total comes to 29, so just a little over half.  I feel fortunate to have seen different regions of the U.S., from the great beaches of the West coast to the wide open spaces of the South to the cosmopolitan cities of the East coast.

My U.S.A. travel list is below, with hopefully more to come:

1)   Alabama

2)   Arizona

3)   Arkansas

4)   California

5)   Colorado

6)   Delaware

7)   Florida

8)   Hawaii

9)    Idaho

10)  Illinois

11)  Louisiana

12)  Maryland

13)  Massachusetts

14)  Mississippi

15)  Missouri

16)  Nevada

17)  New Jersey

18)  New Mexico

19)  New York

20) North Carolina

21)  Ohio

22)  Oklahoma

23)  Pennsylvania

24)  Rhode Island

25)  South Dakota

26)  Texas

27)  Utah

28) Virginia

29)  Wyoming

Each state has something different to offer, and my goal over time is to spotlight some of my favorite places.  It’s tough to narrow it down, for sure–whenever friends from other countries have visited me in the U.S., they fell in love with it.  What’s not to love, after all?  Free refills (not a basic right in most parts of the world), friendly people (for the most part), a sense of freedom and liberty, and gorgeous sights.  God bless the U.S.A.