S5, E4: Why This Man Biked Across the United States—Without Any Food or Money

In 2018, filmmaker Daniel Troia set out to see if the country is really as divided as it seems—by cycling across the country with no food or money. This week on Travel Tales by AFAR, he shares what he learned.

On the fourth episode of Travel Tales by Afar, season five, we meet the filmmaker who cycled across the United States to understand if we’re really as divided as it seems.


Aislyn Greene, host: I’m Aislyn Greene, and this is Travel Tales by Afar. Every week, we hear stories of life-changing travel from poets, scientists, authors, entrepreneurs, and more. And this week, I interview a filmmaker who cycled across the United States—without any food or money.

His name is Daniel Troia, and in 2018, he embarked on what he thought would be a three-month journey. He’d been feeling very disillusioned over the division in the United States and wanted to do something that felt unifying. So he decided to ride his bike across the country, relying solely on the kindness of strangers. He learned how to panhandle, outran tornados, and made lasting friendships along the way. And he filmed it all, which he then turned into a fantastic documentary called We Are All in This Together. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and Apple TV. The film reveals the twists and turns of his journey—and there are so many—and this idea that we really are all in this together.

We’re here today to talk about We’re All in This Together, this fantastic documentary you made. And it’s a really ambitious project. You started in California, cycled all the way to New York city, and then came back West. Why did you take on such a challenge?

Daniel Troia, filmmaker: So, um, just like a lot of other Americans, I’d been feeling all the tension and division in the country in the last couple years, and honestly it was causing some anger. I was feeling a lot of anger about how divided it seems that we are. And in some ways, I wanted to be able to channel that anger and try to create something positive.

So, um, I thought, “Man, I would love to, you know, go travel across the country and really get to know people in a, in a unique way.” So I thought, “What if I were to ride my bicycle across the country?” Because that would give me a unique perspective of, you know, the different communities that I ride through and the people that I meet.

And then I came up with the idea of, well, “What if I were to do it with no food or money?” Because then I could have a sign with me that said, “Biking across country, ran outta food. Anything helps.” And that could, uh, create some really unique conversations with people. And then, again, really get to know the people.

I wanted to create something that would show, you know, humanity in a positive way instead of just all the negativity that we see in the news.

Aislyn: And it is such a, I think it’s a film that really—when you’re in a dark place, this is a good one to watch. You know, it’s just very heartwarming and just amazing the amount of people who opened up to you, who shared with you, who welcomed you into their homes. I mean, were you nervous about embarking on something like this without food or money?

Daniel: Yeah, I was, I was nervous. But you know, what there was, is, um . . . so both of my parents passed away a couple years before doing this, and in some ways—

Aislyn: Oh wow, I’m sorry.

Daniel: Thank you. But in some ways it created a sense of, like, recklessness in, in me, but in a really good way. So, like, once they passed, I just, I really started questioning a lot of things with my own life, and I knew that I wanted to do something challenging and really push myself. So I kind of, again, using the word channeled, I channeled that grief that I was experiencing and wanted to create something. So, um, I was nervous for sure, but I also—I read a book on dumpster diving before I left. And, uh, I knew that dumpster diving was gonna be a backup option for me if I couldn’t get enough food or money. And once I hit the road and I started going behind grocery stores, I mean, I had no idea that there was that much food being thrown away.

Aislyn: It’s horrifying. I was horrified by the perfectly good—I mean, the bananas, the, like, the bread . . . yeah.

Daniel: It’s a huge issue in our country, and it’s—we, we throw away almost 30 percent of the food that’s produced in our country, which was just absolutely insane.

Aislyn: But you knew that you had that as kind of like, “OK, you know, if I can’t get something today from someone, then I can go to the grocery store and ‘shop.’”

Daniel: Yeah. Yeah. And I also, you know, I always like to acknowledge I was very privileged to go on this, you know, this journey in the first place. I knew that my, my sign was unique because it said Biking Across Country. And so I knew that I was gonna attract a certain amount of people that way. And also the fact that when, when you are on a bike tour and you have your bike with all your bags, etcetera, it attracts a lot of curiosity from the people that you meet. And so that was, that was also another advantage I had. I knew that people were gonna be like, “Man, you look like you’ve been on a journey. Where are you coming from?” And so it opened up a lot of opportunities for conversations.

Aislyn: Yeah, absolutely. And there were people who were definitely travelers or, you know, wanting to support travelers. And you know, this really felt like a pilgrimage in that way. Not just a trip, but, like, truly a pilgrimage to learn something about yourself and about the outside world. And I was curious to know if your—what your goal setting out was and then if it changed along the way, or your intention, maybe.

Daniel: Yeah, so, so the original goal was like, I thought, “Man, I wanna make a, you know, a, a documentary about, like, kindness, for example.” And, and I wanted to show some nice things that are happening, but as, as time went on, I started riding through impoverished neighborhoods, and I started to notice that the people who were struggling the most, you know, and who faced the most adversity in their lives, they were the ones that were most willing to give, right?

And so what I was doing is, I would ask someone, if they helped me, I’d say, “Do you have a story about when somebody helped you when you really needed it?” And, and I started to notice that in those impoverished neighborhoods, those were the people who were the most willing to give, and they, and they had the most unique stories, right?

And so as time went on, I started to realize that I wanted—my experience was showing that after speaking with these people, that a lot of us have the same human experiences in life as far as, you know, people were sharing stories about grief, loved ones they’ve lost. And I would go through these neighborhoods where maybe someone grew up in a totally different environment and grew up in a different culture, but after talking with these people, they would share their, their stories about shared experiences that I had with them, right? And so I kind of, kind of took a detour on the film and, uh, started to go in the direction of focusing on the theme of togetherness.

Aislyn: I was so touched by the people that you showcased, like the, the little girl at the beginning. There were several people who were homeless themselves and jobless who gave you money? Uh, people who had immigrated to the country or run into the hard times, like you’re saying—Mama Starfish, I loved her story. What do you think was that thread that connected all of them?

Daniel: I think what it was is, I noticed after, after spending seven months on the road that it seemed, you know, the, the people who had the, who had pain in their heart. It seemed like they were trying to, again, kind of similar to what I was doing, they were trying to channel that and do something kind for somebody.

Because I noticed that, for example, the first person who was living on the streets, you know, that offered me help—I initially denied it. I said, “No, I can’t take this money from you.” And they said, “By you denying this money, you’re denying me the opportunity to do good.” And the person said, “I gain a lot of good from doing something kind for you.” So I think that’s part of the reason why it attracted unhoused people, etcetera, ’cause they were trying to uplift themselves by helping somebody else.

Aislyn: Yeah, absolutely. I think that the spirit of giving, like, it is such a powerful—I think maybe it was a little girl who had said that, who had said, you know, like, “Giving makes me feel good, you know?” And so we should all have that, that experience, right? No matter our living circumstances.

Daniel: Absolutely.

Aislyn: Well, you mentioned your appearance and, you know, the fact that you had this unique sign, a unique look, and you also mentioned that your, your skin color at one point, that you wondered what this would be like if you were Black, and I so appreciated that you’re also acknowledging that, you know, as a, as a white man there, there’s a different experience there for you. But then as the film went on, as you know, time went on, and you grew out your beard and your hair, you started to notice that people treated you differently. And I was just curious to know what that was like, that kind of evolution.

Daniel: Yeah. Yeah. So just a quick story. I met a man when I was, uh, biking, and I was in Virginia at that point of the journey, and it was a Black man who was biking towards California, and we were, we were sharing stories about our experience, and he said, “Where are you sleeping most nights?” And I said, “Most nights I sleep, like, in a baseball field, you know?”

And he said, he said, “The cops don’t bother you?” And I said, “Usually they just tell me to leave early in the morning.” And then he looked at me, he said, “Last week, I was staying in a campground where I was supposed to be staying, and someone still called the cops on me.” So that’s, that’s why I think it was important, because my experience, if I wasn’t a white man, it would’ve been totally different.

But yeah, going back to what you were saying as far as, yeah, my beard started to grow longer, and it definitely without a question was pushing people away. And it was pretty, I mean, I had a feeling that my appearance was gonna change the way that people saw, uh, you know, treated me. But this was very, very obvious.

I mean, I was getting, like, yelled at a lot more. I mean, what probably the most obvious thing for me was I was getting asked to leave grocery-store parking lots way more often once I had the long beard. But there was also a sense of, you know, the lifestyle that I was living was, you know, trying to find a safe place to sleep at night and trying to find a place to bathe and then trying to get enough food or money for the day.

And so that lifestyle after seven months was really starting to wear on me. So I was, I was putting out a much different energy by the end of the journey. And, uh, when I first started, I feel like I was welcoming people because I was energetic and I was feeling strong, but after seven months, uh, my energy was actually pushing people away.

So the combination of the, the lifestyle, which was bringing me down, and my appearance, so both those things were really pushing people away, and I was receiving much less help at that point.

Aislyn: It sounded like you didn’t expect that it would take you seven months to complete it. How long did you think it would take?

Daniel: Yeah. You know, because originally I was planning on only doing three months. I was planning on just riding to New York City.

Aislyn: Oh wow.

Daniel: And, and then, you know, I got to New York City, and there was just this feeling of like, “Man, it’s, it’s just, I need to keep going because there’s something that’s missing, right?” And, and what I think what it was is because immediately, once I left New York City and started heading back towards California, everything just got way more challenging for me and, and because I was receiving less help, when I would receive help, those interactions with those people was becoming so much more meaningful and, and I think that’s what I needed to go through. I needed to go through the moments of being treated differently because of my appearance, etcetera. Because that just kind of gave me a new understanding of empathy and compassion and also my judgments of people who look a certain way.

Aislyn: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Like, the first three months, you could almost just be carried by your adrenaline and your excitement, but then you’re really getting into kind of the slog of it and, and things changing and the weather changing. You’re battling that too.

Daniel: Like with most things in life, right, Aislyn? It’s like with most things in life, like we learn the most when we’re struggling, I think.

Aislyn: Yeah.

Daniel: When, when life is good and we’re winning, like, you know, there’s not so many lessons there, but it’s, you know, the, the true growth is when we’re really going through challenging times. And the really beautiful thing is if we can come out of those challenging times, we just get so much stronger.

Aislyn: Yeah. That is so interesting, and you kind of reflected on, you know, this is something that you, an experience, you know, that you’ll kind of leave behind. Like, you had someplace to go where you could change your circumstances, but if that wasn’t so available to you, you know, what does that do to your spirit over time, right?

Daniel: That’s exactly right. Exactly. Yeah. And, and again, I can’t stress enough, I mean, ’cause there was some dangerous situations when I was camping. You know, there was one night when I was camping just outside of New York City, and I was sleeping behind this warehouse. This, uh, truck came up to my tent at 3:00 a.m., and I literally thought I was gonna die that night.

And I just think that for people who are living on the streets, I’m sure that happens fairly often to where, you know, you, you wake up and somebody’s there, and it’s super traumatizing, and I think that you can’t help but carry that weight on your shoulders. And unfortunately it seems like that pushes you, you need help even more at that point, but because your energy is different, it pushes people away even more.

Aislyn: And then just the sheer fact of not being well rested and having to continue on like that, really, that takes a toll too.

Daniel: That’s a really great point because when you are, I call it stealth camping, you know, you’re sleeping in public places, and try, I, I never, you know, trespassed or left any trash or anything, but I was sleeping in places that I shouldn’t have been. But you don’t fully fall asleep. I mean, you’re kind of on edge, you know. Especially after that night behind the warehouse, I definitely didn’t feel rested.

Aislyn: I can imagine. Yeah, that was intense. There were a couple of moments—that one was the most, um, visceral—but you know, there was the time where you were trying to get ahead of the tornadoes in Kansas where it seemed like you were in some, you know, potential danger.

Daniel: You know what’s funny about that though is, uh, when I’m on a bike tour, I love to just be truly in it. And I was in Kansas and I was at a gas station and a tornado warning off went off, and I thought, “Oh man, I better hit the road.” And I turned around and I saw this massive storm that was coming my way.

And I felt a huge sense of adrenaline. And honestly, in that moment, I was absolutely loving it because it felt like, “Man, this is a real, real adventure.” And thankfully I was, I was able to outrun that storm, but a tornado did touch down in the town behind me. Thankfully it didn’t cause any damage, it just touched down in a field. But I definitely could feel the power of that storm.

Aislyn: It was beautiful footage too—

Daniel: Thank you, thank you.

Aislyn: —knowing that you were OK. Were there ever times that you wanted to give up?

Daniel: You know, there was a couple . . . so, in the very beginning, when I was crossing the Great Basin Desert, there was this, uh, 400-mile stretch of desert. And there was only four towns. And there was one particular day where there was 84 miles, no services, three mountain passes, and no shade. And, uh, on that particular day in the desert, I ran out of water about 35 miles away from the last town. And at that point I was getting a little nervous. The fact that I, I started, you know, I still had a good, good ways to go, and then this huge headwind came towards me. And so it was really slowing my pace down. And then on top of that, I was getting so dehydrated that my nose started just gushing blood. And at that point I started getting nervous, like, “Oh man, this isn’t, this isn’t good, because I’m losing so many electrolytes right now.” And, and I guess the cherry on top was on this long stretch of desert highway. It was littered with just, like, dead animals that just succumbed to the, like, the desert, the heat of the desert. That’s what I’m seeing as I’m, like, out of water and super thirsty. I’m just seeing dead animals and I’m thinking, “This is not a good sign.”

Aislyn: You’re like, “Don’t read into this. Don’t read into this.”

Daniel: Yes. Yeah. So, so that was, that was one time when I felt like—I questioned what I was doing, especially ’cause it was the second week of being on the road, and I thought, you know, “Did I, did I bite off a little more than I can chew?”

But thankfully I made it through that. But I would say the other one that comes to mind is, it was, uh, about six months into the trip—I ended up being on the road for seven—and as I mentioned, at this point, I was feeling so beat up because there was this, there was this three-night stretch in Montana where it was 13 degrees each night, and I only had summer gear with me because I wasn’t expecting to be on the road that time that long. And so I was, I was literally wearing every piece of clothing that I, that I had when I went to bed at night. And, uh, those three really, really cold nights, like it, it sucked the strength out of me.

And so, at this point, you know, the last month of the journey on, on the way back to California, I was feeling so physically weak and also mentally weak because of the lifestyle. And one particular day I felt like I was really close, close to quitting. I remember calling a physical therapist that I worked with before I left and saying, “Hey, I, I think I, I think I’m done. I don’t think I can finish.”

And uh, it was actually the day after I called her, I was sitting on the side of the road, and my sign was not out. I didn’t need any food or anything. And people were walking past me, and, and I was just trying to stretch my body ’cause I was in so much pain. And this man walks up to me and he says, “Hey man, are you OK?”

I said, “Yeah, yeah, just my body hurts a little bit.” And he goes, he goes, “Hang out right here. I’ll be right back.” And this man, he, he runs across the street to a grocery store and then he comes back with a bag of groceries. And again, I wasn’t asking for anything, right. And what he did was, he, uh, he bought me a bag of groceries with his food stamps. His, uh, yeah, his name was Gary. He was, he was living on the street, so he was unhoused.

Aislyn: Oh yes, yeah.

Daniel: Yeah. And what was really interesting about that is he, he could feel the energy I was putting out, and I think that he recognized that I was really going through a rough time because he had faced a lot of hardships in his life.

And it was really interesting that everybody else was walking by and they couldn’t pick up on the energy, but he picked up on it, right? And he helped me, and, and what, it wasn’t about the food that he gave me, but he gave me a hug. And the fact that he saw me as a human being that needed help in that moment, that, that was life-changing.

And honestly, that’s what gave me the strength for that last month of riding. I just felt like after meeting him, it was so energizing and inspiring, and he changed my life.

Aislyn: Yeah. Wow. Wow. I imagine he would be harder to find, but have you stayed in touch with any of the people that you met or stayed with?

Daniel: So the majority of the people that I did meet, I, I stayed in contact with. Unfortunately, Gary, because he was unhoused, it’s been really difficult. I wasn’t able to keep in contact with him ever again. But the majority of the people, yeah, definitely, I keep in contact with them.

Aislyn: Oh, that’s so cool. What did they think about the film?

Daniel: Oh, they’re so happy that, like, that they showed up in the movie, because for them, you know, I was, I was wearing camera glasses when I was panhandling because I didn’t want people to know in the moment that I was making a documentary, right? And so they were just doing a kind act, and the fact that their kind act happened to be captured by my hidden camera glasses . . .

Once I told them, “Hey, I’m actually making a documentary,” they were stoked. They’re like, “Oh, cool,” you know, like, “Oh, I’d love to be in the film,” ’cause I mean, it shows them in a really positive light.

Aislyn: I’m just thinking a little bit about Gary too, and this idea of him, because of his own struggles, being able to recognize when someone is not in a great place, and—has that changed the way that you treat people that you encounter in all walks of life since then?

Daniel: Great question. Yeah, yeah, totally. And, and I think be, before going on this journey, it’s like I would notice sometimes when a coworker or a friend, you know, was having, like, an off day or a rough day, but I felt uncomfortable about saying anything about it, you know? And after, after meeting, you know, hundreds of people who were, I was so fortunate they showed up into my life that now, now when I’m aware that someone’s having a rough day, I just check in, you know?

I just check in, whether it’s my coworkers or, or even sometimes people at a store, I just let them know that they’re seen and just ask how they’re doing. And I think—because there were times when, especially towards the end when I was feeling not so great, even if, if somebody didn’t have anything to give me, if they just kind of smiled and said, “Have a nice day.” Like that really mattered because I felt like they, they saw me and acknowledged me as a person.

And I think that the really special thing with our, with our lives is every day, like, we all have this, like, extremely special opportunity to show up for somebody, right? And I’m not talking about giving food or money. It’s about, you know, the idea—again, if you see someone’s having an off day, just letting them know they’re seen and checking in with them, and it can literally change their lives.

Aislyn: What was it like to be totally reliant on strangers? I mean, I know you had the ability to dumpster dive, too, but you were very much dependent on the goodwill of others.

Daniel: You know, it was, there was a lot of shame involved in it, and I did it for seven months. And even after seven months holding my sign, I never got comfortable holding a sign out there. And, again, I, I was super privileged to be able to do this. It makes me think about someone who doesn’t have a choice and has to stand out there every day.

Because you get, you get a lot of looks from people, and people yell things, and it’s just not, it’s not a great feeling. And, and for me, you know, I was fortunate that it did open up some beautiful interactions with people, because I would ask them, you know, “Do you have a story about when somebody helped you when you really needed it?”

But I would say that there was definitely a lot of guilt and, and shame while I was doing it.

Aislyn: And interesting that, that never—you were never relieved of that.

Daniel: Yeah. Yeah. That’s why I preferred dumpster diving, honestly, because, like, it was, I was able to get, like, my food that way, and I didn’t feel like I was, like, bothering people or being a nuisance to their community, etcetera.

Aislyn: Would you say that most people who saw your sign were positive towards you? Or was it really like the people we’re seeing in the film were the rare exceptions?

Daniel: Yeah, I think, again, because of my privilege, and my sign was unique about traveling, you know, I was a traveler, right?

Aislyn: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. It’s different.

Daniel: Yeah, it’s different. It’s different. And, and the sad reality is, is, if my sign just said Hungry, then I don’t think I would’ve received as much help. But again, people came up to me ’cause they’re like, “Oh, so what’s your story, man?” And I tell ’em my story, you know, “I’m biking across the country.” And then maybe they were a little bit more willing to give. But again, the whole reason, I mean, I did this, is I wanted to connect with people. And I thought, “This will create a unique way of connecting with people in the communities that I ride through.”

Aislyn: And you showed so many diverse communities, right? Like the guys with the, the Pride flag, was that in Appalachia?

Daniel: That was actually just outside. So that was, uh, that was near State College. But I was riding through the Appalachian Mountains. Yeah, and that was a really beautiful experience to, to, to meet people that were, like, um, because their whole thing was with that flag. It was, for them, it represented togetherness, and they, and they said, “We wanna represent this house as a safe place for people.”

And what’s really, really, really crazy is, uh, three weeks later I ended up—I was hitchhiking, we were five hours away from State College, right? And the person who I caught a ride with was going to that exact same town, State College. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is the place where three weeks earlier this person said, ‘You always have a safe place to sleep here.’”

Aislyn: Yeah. Yeah. Wow.

Daniel: And I just happened to get dropped off right there.

Aislyn: That’s amazing. That is so cool. Did you feel like there was some—I, I don’t know what your spiritual beliefs are—but some sense of, kind of providence, or a guiding hand that helped you in those darkest moments or guided you on your journey?

Daniel: Yeah, I do think there was some serendipitous moments, and I mean, for example, when, when I was in, uh, Arcata in the redwoods in Northern California, I woke up that morning in the redwoods, and I remember saying out loud, “Something special’s gonna happen today.” And I don’t usually say those kind of things, but it was just, like, a really strong feeling that I had.

And then, you know, later that day, it was the last person who appeared in the film. It was Tom who was, Tom was an, an unhoused man. He was living on the streets, right? And Tom makes, he makes cartoons about kindness, compassion, and love. And he’s so passionate about helping the poor. And, and he came up to me, and he gave me a couple dollars for lunch, and we shared a really wonderful hug. I’m so grateful that I talk to him every Sunday since then.

Aislyn: Oh my gosh. How cool.

Daniel: And, and, but that’s an example of a moment where I just, it was this real strong feeling of, I can just tell something really special is gonna happen.

Aislyn: He had really great energy even through the, you know, laptop screen. Like he had the kindest eyes.

Daniel: I mean, I don’t use this word often, but I mean, he’s pretty much like an angel.

Aislyn: Yeah. Yeah. I got that vibe from him.

Daniel: He really is. I went to, I went to visit him, um, a year ago, and he said, “Do you mind if we go to the grocery store really quick?” And I said, “Yeah.” And again, he’s still unhoused, right. And so we go to the grocery store, and he buys two loaves of bread. And then he says, “OK, can we drive over here?” And he goes to a homeless encampment and he drops off the food for other homeless people.

Aislyn: Wow. Wow.

Daniel: Yeah, he’s amazing.

Aislyn: Would you do this again?

Daniel: You know, I, gosh, um, it was such a life-changing experience, but I would say no because of the, the mental strain it had on me. I did feel slightly traumatized after some of those nights of sleeping out, you know, and, and again, I’m, I’m grateful for those moments because now it’s changed my perspective on how extremely difficult it is for people who are actually living on the streets.

The physical aspect, I love that. I mean, I love that, that whole adventure of it, but the, the mental, it was just, ’cause again, that lifestyle of trying to find a place to sleep and bathe and food and all of that, it, it was pretty straining on me. And when I got home, my friends and family were concerned because I definitely—it took me a little while to bounce back from that whole experience because it was, it was seven months of constantly on the go. And there was, it was just really, really overstimulating at times. But I’m so grateful for it.

Aislyn: What do you think that you learned about yourself through this?

Daniel: About myself, yeah, about myself. I think that we are so much more capable than we may believe. Uh, there was tons of, there was so many moments on that trip that I thought, like, “Oh, I’m not gonna be able to do this.” I mean, for example, there was, you know, climbing over 11,000-foot mountain passes in Montana when a snowstorm is coming, you know, like, there was moments like that, or even I remember when I was crossing the desert, or even something as simple as just, you know, 35-mile-per-hour headwinds and trying to get across Kansas, when every day is like that, just thinking like, “I don’t know if I can cross this state.” Like, it’s just too windy. And then, you know, if you just stay consistent and take baby steps, eventually you’ll start making progress.

Aislyn: What was your kind of main takeaway in terms of our shared humanity or the state of the United States?

Daniel: I think we’re not nearly as divided as it seems. And the reason I say that is, you know, like, the media, they, they all have their agendas. And then there’s that phrase, if it bleeds, it leads, right? And so they start with the worst news stories they can find ’cause that gets the most viewers, etcetera.

But the thing is, is, I was fortunate to go into these communities and, and talk face-to-face with a lot of people who were different than me. And had different political beliefs. But the fact that we were speaking in person, there was way more respect between each other. Nowadays people are communicating in person way less.

I mean, if you think about it, remember when you’d be at the bank 15 years ago, and no one had a cell phone or a smartphone, so sometimes you would just talk to the person next to you, right? Or when you’re at the grocery store, or when you’re in the doctor’s office.

But now everybody has their phones, and we’re all kind of just, like, sucked into them, and we’re not having those small interactions like we used to have. And I think that’s, that’s adding up and making us feel more divided, right? But you know, when, when you do have the opportunity to speak to somebody who has a different point of view in person, usually it’s way more respectful. And I think that you have more understanding of where they’re coming from and more respect. And so that’s what this experience taught me.

Aislyn: What do you hope that viewers will take away from it?

Daniel: I mean, I would love it if people watch the film and just, and just feel like treating each other better. And again, it’s those small things. I mean, there’s, there’s so many things that, that, like, are out of, out of our control right now and are so overwhelming in the world. But one of the things that we actually can control is how we treat each other.

Aislyn: You know, you, you embarked on this adventure, and it helped you see these things, helped you make these connections with people and really kind of embody it. How do you think that we can hold onto that connection without spending seven months cycling from coast to coast and back?

Daniel: Yeah, I honestly think we need to be more mindful of our day-to-day, you know, connections. So let’s be mindful of each other and not forget that we are all, you know, we are all living this shared experience together, right? And I think that, that, that would really help things, because some of the things are out of our control.

When you do something kind for someone, or even just giving someone a compliment, it can totally change not just their day, but their week, right. And, and the beautiful thing [is] that doesn’t take any money. We can all do that.

I think that most people definitely want to do good in the world. I really believe that. Because we have to, we have to stick together. That’s the only way that we’re gonna make it as a, as a human race, right? We gotta stick together.

Aislyn: Well, thank you for putting something so positive out into the world. I really appreciate it.

Daniel: It’s my, my absolute pleasure.

Aislyn: That was Daniel Troia. It’s such an inspiring journey, and this summer, he’s showing the film in different cities across the United States and donating half of all the ticket sales to the local homeless shelters in the cities he visits. The first screening was on June 23 in Sacramento. You can learn more about when the film is coming to your city at weareallinthistogethermovie.com.

We’ll link to the website, as well as to the film, in the show notes, along with Daniel’s social media handles. Next week, on July 4, we’re replaying one of our favorite Travel Tales of all time, featuring the illustrious comedian Michelle Buteau.

Michelle Buteau: Pierre and Etienne became our vacation boyfriends that week. We’d hold hands and ride bikes and whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ear. When we were getting ready to leave, we realized that we were going to miss each other.

And we’re like, “We have to see each other again. You know, this could be true love.” And this was before MySpace and Facebook. So truly the only way to stay in touch with someone was by writing a letter and then strapping that letter to a pigeon or a three-eyed raven. Those were your choices. And so when Cynthia and I came back from Spain, we just looked at each other, and we’re like, “Are those our French boyfriends? Are we going to have French citizenship? Are we gonna move to Paris and figure out how to make bread and just, you know, ride the metro with a little baguette under our arms? Like, who are we gonna be?”

Ready for more Travel Tales? Visit afar.com/podcast, and be sure to follow us on Instagram and X. We’re @afarmedia. If you enjoyed today’s exploration, I hope you’ll come back for more great stories. Subscribing makes this easy! You can find Travel Tales by Afar on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform. And be sure to rate and review the show. It helps us book amazing guests like the one you heard today, and it helps other travelers find it.

This has been Travel Tales, a production of AFAR Media. The podcast is produced by Aislyn Greene and Nikki Galteland. Music composed and produced by Strike Audio.

Everyone has a travel tale. What’s yours?