HONOLULU (KHON2) — Kreskin Torres has spent the last few years traveling across the country, hanging out with the locals, learning about the culture and eating the best foods. The Baltimore native, also known as The Rideshare Foodie, uses Uber and Lyft to get around and pay for his way.
Last week, Torres landed in Hawaii for the first time, celebrating his 34th birthday early and marking the last state to visit. Though this food tour across all 50 states comes to an end, it’s only just the beginning of Torres’ journey.
“I’ve done the states, but I got a lot more to do,” said Torres.
So far, he’s made 12,000 Uber/Lyft trips to support about 2,000 local businesses.
If there’s anything Torres has learned during his time driving people around, it’s that we should get out more and meet other people.
“Which I think is really needed because a lot of people feel comfortable, where they want to stay comfortable,” he said, “and I think people need to get uncomfortable… because people don’t know much about other places other than what they may see on a movie or TV show.”
Even in Hawaii, he’s heard from people who haven’t explored different parts of the island, and it’s the same thing on the mainland. He knows people who live in San Antonio who haven’t been from east to west.
Torres wants people to know that it’s still the same America out there. Every place is unique, and it’s more than what you see on the news or in entertainment. After spending time in Baltimore for the better part of his life, Torres decided to explore the world when he visited London in 2017.
After spending a month in Europe, Torres decided he needed to travel more. He took his first step outside his comfort zone when he visited Jackson, Mississippi. He loved the food, the people, the culture, the hospitality — the first place of his road trip across America holds a special place in his heart.
“It’s really awesome to experience authentic or true local culture,” Torres said, “because most of the times when you go to like a bigger city, you have a lot of like transplants. So you get different vibes of different people from different places, where like small towns, most of the people that live there are from there.”
By meeting a lot of people, Torres has also received many opportunities. He even got an invite to stay with an Amish family in Holmes County, Ohio.
And when people ask him how he picks his next destination, he said he figures it out along the way.
“I’ll stop at small towns, you know, random cities I’ve never heard of, especially if I pick someone up in my Uber or Lyft, and they tell me they’re from a certain town,” he said.
Torres adds that he’ll usually join a Facebook group that’s community driven and will ask for recommendations. It’s a way to connect with locals, and that’s how he found out about O’Kims.
Out of all the places he’s visited in Hawaii, O’Kims in Chinatown takes the crown.
“The locals have been really showing me that aloha welcome and the meaning of mahalo,” Torres told KHON2 on May 12, Thursday.
During his Hawaii trip, Torres really wanted to know how expensive it is to live here after he met locals on the mainland who always brought it up.
“So I get to here, and like, okay, you see the gas prices, I look at the candy bars, and what I realized that there’s certain things that are expensive,” he said, “and then other things that are kind of the same prices you would get on the mainland.”
People might assume he’s looking for expensive restaurants, ones you might see on Food Network, but that couldn’t be further from his case.
“I’m from Baltimore, so that’s the perspective I’m going in with is, right? We have corner stores, we have like the Wawa, the RoFo, you know, things that locally, you know, just people that live there know about? So I’m like, ‘Okay, what is Hawaii?’ Orange Bang. I found out about the Orange Bang.”
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FAVORITE HAWAII RESTAURANTS & FOODS
- Laverne’s Lunch Wagon And Catering for lau lau, squid, poi and kalua pig combo plate with passion orange drink
- Leonard’s (Pearlridge Center) for malasadas
- Ted’s Bakery for loco moco and strawberry chiffon cake
- O’Kims in Chinatown for truffle mandoo, confit pork belly, kalbi steak and Korean fried chicken (Best Korean restaurant in Hawaii, according to Yelp)
- Banán (Waikiki Beach Shack) for pineapple yacht and banana ice cream
- Dole Plantation for Dole Whip
- ABC Store for some quick spam musubi and souvenirs
- Mina Stripsteak for Mai Tai and a Tiki Jamaican Punch
- Legends Sports Pub for cheap drinks and shots
- Chun Wah Kam for a Managua
- Elena’s Restaurant for chicken adobo fried rice omelette
- Aloha Stadium Swap Meet for coconut water
- Rainbow Drive-In for mix plate combo plate and Hawaiian beef stew plate
- Zippy’s for Korean fried chicken plate
- Soul Wings for Yang Nyeom (sweet and spicy) Korean fried chicken
Torres has been lucky to have the locals show him these areas since he’s unable to Uber here. According to Torres, you have to be an Oahu resident to be able to use Uber, but he can do it on Maui or the Big Island.
However, he won’t be visiting Maui or the other neighbor islands just yet, or at least not until his bank account has replenished. But when he does visit next time, he knows what to do.
“When I go back to London or go back to Europe, I’m gonna backpack now because I got to, you know, experience it and ride the tube system and everything like that the first time,” he said. “Same thing with here, when I come back, okay, now when I got the basics, you know, now I can go explore and dip out and everything.”
This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, though. Torres said the main thing you need to have is time, then of course, money. Some people wonder how much you can earn by driving for Uber or Lyft. Can it really cover food, hotels and other expenses? Torres said it depends on the city.
In Austin, Texas, Torres said he could easily make $300 to $350, sometimes $400 a day.
“Because they have so much traffic and since they have so many different events, but it just depends on the city,” said Torres.
And for hotels? For the first few years, Torres said he was just crashing in his car.
“Because when you think about it, 60% of your income goes towards where you live, your rent, mortgage, lodging — that’s most of your income,” Torres explained. “So this was the first road trip I started, and that’s when I started, like, getting into my sense of being a minimalist.”
For the first year, he calculated about $10,000 saved up.
“I’m like, ‘Oh no,’ like I will crash, go on the road, and I can stay wherever I want,” he said, “and I’m not tied down to — I gotta get back so I can pay rent… But that’s the reality is most of your income goes towards we live.”
Torres said that’s how he’s able to do this.
“You gotta get uncomfortable, because I’m like, you can have all these different experiences, like, what are you willing to give up? You know, to get there?” he said.
Torres is still figuring out where he wants to go next, but at some point, he wants to do an international tour, starting with the Philippines.
“I’m not going to be able to drive Uber there,” he said, “but I’ll be able to go, and then you get to, you know, meet other people from other countries that’s probably never been to America.”
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In the meantime, look out for his app The Rideshare Foodie, which will compile local recommendations of places he’s been to so far. Want to know where to get the best taco? Who’s the best bartender in the area you’re in right now? Those answers will be available soon.
“I actually lived it out and it has a backstory. People feel a part of it,” Torres said.
The Rideshare Foodie app is expected to launch next month.