10 days in the USA with Jake Richardson
Last month, we let Jake Richardson (you might have seen him on Big Brother last year) and his buddy Ryan Kennedy loose in the USA for 10 days. The boys hit up LA, Las Vegas, Miami and NYC to meet the locals, eat, drink and enjoy the United States’ larger-than-life ethos – rollerblading in Miami included.
We caught up with Jake to hear his side of the story...
Was this your first time in the States?
Of legal drinking age? Yes. I went when I was like seven with my family, so I have a couple of vague memories – mostly being frightened by people and asking for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and not getting what I expected. This time was the first time I could really absorb and experience the culture, the atmosphere, and the people and have my own opinion on it.
Would you ever trade Sydney for LA?
I see many parallels between the two cities. There are a lot of big thinkers in LA. It’s a global city, people flying in and flying out. No idea is a bad idea there, everyone has that great philosophy. You bump into people that are living there dream every day. To the point where someone picks you up in an Uber and they’re already half way to being famous. There are so many stories, like “oh have you heard of Toy Story? I wrote that.” In terms of living over there, yeah, I’d love to. In terms of settling down over there? Nah, I’m too Australian, I couldn’t do that.
How do you know Ryan?
We’ve been buddies for a while. I don’t think I could travel with anyone else to be honest, maybe a girlfriend. But for this kind of trip, he’s the perfect travel companion.
You visited LA, Las Vegas, Miami and NYC – what was the favourite part of your trip?
If I had to pick one, the first thing that comes to mind is flying over Las Vegas in a helicopter. For a couple of reasons: the love of flying, being above ground and seeing the city from a different perspective. I was using two cameras to capture the journey and I had to stop and just see if with my own eyes instead of through the lens or screen. That was a pretty special moment, just taking it all in.
America is well known for its epic food – what’s the best meal you had on the trip?
The food saga. I struggled to find healthier alternatives, and with Ryan being a vegetarian it was tough in some parts. There’s a lot of big chain restaurants so it’s hard to find something not commercially produced. LA on the other hand offered heaps of fresh healthy options. Urth Caffe was great and had some amazing vego food. In Vegas we found an awesome Thai place inside Planet Hollywood that did a mean Pad Thai. Favourite food in the States though? New York pizza for sure. There are so many places to eat pizza, but we found this one place with amazing margarita pizza that was life changing.
You did a road trip to Las Vegas, where’d you go and was it hectic driving on the other side of the road?
We drove from LA to Las Vegas. Picking up the car was an experience in itself. After lining up for an hour you get to choose your own car (out of the bay within your price range). We ended up choosing a Toyota ute. So it was bigger than any car I’d driven before plus we were driving on the other side of the road. There were times when we’d be hanging to the left when we should have been hanging to the right, a little stressful, but we got there and it’s an awesome drive from LA to Las Vegas.
Best thing you brought during the trip – fashion or otherwise?
Squeezed a little shopping in, I found these Worry Dolls from Urban Outfitters in Las Vegas. They were pretty great. I brought them and told them my worries [laughs].
Favourite activity from the trip?
We smashed out a lot of activities. We were like “we’re in Miami – we’ve got to go rollerblading and we’re in Central Park, let’s ride around it instead of walking.” We cycled for ages in Central Park but probably only covered a quarter of it, it’s just so big. We hired the bikes at the top of the park; one guy gave us a sweet deal so we took him up on the offer.
In New York we wanted to get above off the pavement too, we found a couple of really cool rooftop bars – 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar in Manhattan had an awesome vantage point. We also walked the High Line.
In Miami we had some great adventures too. There’s an old movie The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams. He plays a gay man who owns a drag bar – Miami culture reminded me so much of this movie. Rollerblading one minute, then come across a street party with a drag queen lip-syncing Beyonce and twerking on the hood of a car the next.
So you met some interesting characters on your trip?
Miami is the capital for interesting people.
Best piece of advice you can offer someone heading to the USA?
I had a couple of travel hacks that helped me out: the Australian accent in America is a blessing, they’re like “oh you’re Ozzie! Do you ride your kangaroo to work?” Use your Aussie charm to your advantage. In terms of getting around, ‘Uber X’ and ‘Uber Pool’ is by far the cheapest way. It’s the main method of transport, particularly in LA if you aren’t hiring a car.
Be friendly and optimistic. Have an open mind and say ‘yes’ to things. And don’t forget to tip! 15 per cent is standard and 20 per cent is good. Small things go a long way. When you order a drink, always leave a dollar bill on the bar with each round.
Where are you heading next?
Nothing set in stone. But Ryan and I are dying to get to Japan and experience the weird and wackiness of it.
Check out more videos from the guys U-S-A adventures!
New York in 60 Seconds (Pizza, pizza and more pizza!)
Miami in 60 Seconds (Beach bods alert!)
Los Angeles in 60 Seconds (welcome to Tinsel Town)