10 days in the USA with Ryan Kennedy

Published June 19th, 2015

Last month, we let Ryan Kennedy and his mate Jake Richardson loose in the USA. Both with a background in film and television, they certainly used their on and off camera charms to their advantage to coax a good time out of the USA. Not that they had to try too hard, when the land of the free and home of brave offered them up such a warm and fortuitous welcome.

From the West to the East coast, the boys ticked off LA, Las Vegas, Miami and NYC – all in just 10 epic days.

We caught up with Ryan to hear his side of the story...


Was this your first time in the States?

It was my first time to the States. I actually have a large friendship group of Americans who live here in Brisbane, so I’ve got a bed in just about every corner of the country; it’s surprising I haven’t been sooner really.  It was always something for down the track, but then I got the call for this trip and ended up there a fortnight later! The itinerary was amazing and my expectations of the country were met entirely. Everyone was lovely; in fact, Jake and I played “try to find the American wanker” and failed. We’d be walking down the street and if we looked even slightly lost or were holding a map people offered directions. Everyone was welcoming, it's such a myth that Americans are rude.

It has reminded me when I see someone walking through my city with a backpack that might look lost, to stop and ask if they need help and repay that favour.

Ryan getting a classic Las Vegas photo with a 'Hangover' impersonator

How do you know Jake?

I actually hired Jake for the Nova FM street team five years ago when he was living in Brisbane. It’s a good thing we know each other pretty well and travel well together. If you’re going overseas with a friend, especially a road trip in America, you need to understand people’s quirks. For instance; Jake is a bad driver, don’t talk to him before he’s had a coffee in the morning and make sure he gets more coffee every three hours to keep his chin up. As soon as he yawns more than three times I know I’ve lost him [laughs].

You visited LA, Las Vegas, Miami and NYC – what was the highlight of the trip for you?

I got attached to LA pretty quickly. I didn’t think I’d like it initially, but we hooked up with a mate over there who gave us a bit of tour around and soon I was loving it. We hired car instead of taking Uber everywhere as it allowed us to squeeze in more sightseeing. We drove around looking at celebrity houses and my friend pointed out things along the way like, “this is Johnny Depp’s favourite fish and chips shop, this is where Justin Beiber lives,” giving us a real insider tour. She even hooked us up with free tickets to The Wombats (absolutely jetlagged on our first night – we really hit the ground running)!

Graffiti on the streets of LA

America is well known for its epic food – what’s the best meal you had on the trip?

I’m vegetarian but I’m a foodie too (not a pretentious one, I like all kind of good and bad foods). The most depressing part of my day is right after I’ve eaten, because it’s the longest time before I get to eat again. I just wanted to eat my way around the country: donuts, waffles, pizza, repeat. I made a rule for myself that all I’d eat in NYC would be pizza, which went pretty well! I felt like I was 85% pizza dough by the end of day two in the city. I found everything (food) was as big as everyone said it would be, but maybe a little more expensive than we thought it would be. We had fun and made the most of every moment (and mouthful)! Like, “why isn’t there mozzarella all over my face right now?” was pretty much my ethos.

Being a vego, people think you might have a hard time, but it’s everywhere. I found Whole Foods on the first day (in LA) and I think I went there four or five times in two days. I blew a lot of money at that place!

You did a road trip from LA to Las Vegas, was it hectic driving on the other side of the road?

We did scissors, paper, rock to see who would drive first. I secretly wanted to lose, ‘cause I wanted to play DJ for that 'great American road-trip to remember' experience. I give Jake 5.5 out of 10 maybe for driving on the other side of the road [laughs]. Plus, we actually didn’t know the speed limit! We were just keeping up with other cars and turns out we were doing about 40 miles over the speed limit without even knowing it! It was so Vegas: no rules.

We arrived as the sun was falling and the lights started coming on, the city lit up like a Christmas tree. It was one big fat welcome to Vegas I’ll never forget!

Bladin' in Miami, b*tches

Best thing you purchased during the trip – fashion or otherwise?

Well, Jake brought an actual skateboard! We went to Venice Beach in LA and he saw the skate bowl there and he got a bit of man-crush on this guy doing all these skate tricks, so he went and brought a skateboard straight away and tried to talk shop with all the skaters.

Me? Other than a very large collection of chilli sauces from Whole Foods, I brought an American colour themed jumper. Bright red, blue and white – can’t get more American than that!

Favourite activity from the trip? We noticed you did a bit of rollerblading...

My idea of travelling is to get off the beaten track and make your own experiences. We had limited time so we definitely had a bunch of ‘tourist’ must-dos to tick off, but we managed to do a few extra quirky things too. Like rollerblading along the esplanade in Miami and attempting to recreate a Hangover scene in Vegas [laughs]. The celebrity house spotting in LA was super fun, we spent a good couple of hours driving around looking at them, some are huge and others smaller than you’d expect (come on, you need a bigger fence, I could totally hurdle over that!) But it’s so crazy being like, “oh, that’s where Tom Cruise lives, that’s where Ryan Gosling lives...”

We didn’t see any celebs in LA at all, until we were about to leave and we went to In-N-Out Burger and saw (of all people) Fitzy and Wippa Nova Radio hosts from Australia [laughs]!

Doesn't get better than NYC, Central Park

Best piece of advice you can offer someone heading over to the States?

Use your accent to your advantage! It can take a while to get your head around the tipping system. One tip I do have is go to an ATM and draw out 20 dollars (or more) then go to a shop and break it into one dollars bills, so you’ve always got tip money for beer – it’s essential to leave a dollar each time you order a drink, not to mention pretty much the only way you’ll get served. So 20 bucks in one dollar bills, that’s a pocket full of beers!

Maybe start practise tipping one week before you leave Australia – just be like tipping your friends when they do something for you!

Would you ever trade Brisbane for LA?

I think I would. We met some amazing people with amazing stories over there. I don’t think I met anyone who was actually born there; everyone has gone there to chase an experience and a dream. I had lunch with Jared Leto’s personal assistant; I had a drink with Keith Urban’s record label manager – both Australians who went chasing a dream and landed on their feet. It’s so inspiring when it works out for people over there.

When in LA, make an IN-N-OUT pit-stop

Did you meet any stand out characters on your trip?

We got backstage at The Wombats gig and hung out with the band – that was pretty ridiculous. Even just the rappers who are trying to sell you their demos in the street in LA, to the guys wearing next to nothing playing beach volleyball in Miami – so many crazy cats!

In fact one of the guys on the beach in Miami, it turns out he had some Aussie friends and oddly enough watched Big Brother online – he recognised Jake [who starred in the show in 2014] and was like “do I know you from somewhere? Are you a reality TV star from Australia?” What a small world, right? The guy also happened to be gay, so Jake very quickly learnt he has an underground gay following in Miami [laughs].

Where are you heading next?

I’m heading back to LA in couple of weeks actually! Can’t get enough of the USA!

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!)

Las Vegas in 60 Seconds (Welcome to Sin City!)


Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.