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Millions of Americans have never traveled or left the state they grew up in. Many have dreamed of taking a special trip, but lacked the time or opportunity to do so. In fact, almost 40 percent, or two out of five, Virginians have never traveled across the country.
This summer, U.S. Cellular, a wireless carrier offering national network coverage, teamed up with award-winning television personality, chef, and food writer Andrew Zimmern to premiere “Big Country,” a five-episode digital series where the mobile carrier and Zimmern find deserving customers from across the U.S., including Debbie Forrester from Keysville, Virginia, and take them to places they’ve always wanted to visit, including New York City, Portland, Maine; Bend, Oregon and San Francisco.
“Big Country” is brought to you by U.S. Cellular and began airing July 20 online at www.USCellular.com/BigCountry, as well as on uLive.com, FoodNetwork.com and TravelChannel.com. Edited vignettes will air on Food Network and Travel Channel. To join the social media conversation use #USCCBigCountry. Debbie will be featured on the series’ third episode scheduled to air Aug. 17.
U.S. Cellular developed the digital series with Scripps Networks Interactive and Zimmern to allow customers to experience amazing sights and tastes around the country, all while staying connected to their family and friends back home through U.S. Cellular’s nationwide coverage. Staying connected proved to be a major priority among smartphone users. In its survey, U.S. Cellular found that 43 percent of Virginians are concerned that when traveling they won’t have working phone or internet, which makes sense because nearly all understand the importance of having access to things like directions (93 percent), phone (80 percent), bank account (83 percent) and Internet (77 percent) while on the road.
The digital series features U.S. Cellular customers who have lacked the time and opportunity to travel far from home. Throughout the series, Zimmern, who is an expert traveler and knows how to make the most out of any travel experience with his unique tips and tricks, will guide these novice travelers and make their travels truly unique.
Participants were selected via nominations from friends and family encouraging them to enjoy the travel experience. Debbie’s chance to travel for the past couple of years has been tough with the passing of her mother and the failing health of her father. Her dream of seeing the West Coast seemed like it might be only that, until this chance opportunity came along.
While in San Francisco, “Big Country” viewers see Debbie take a stroll along the beach with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in the background; learn about the seafood industry at the Two X Sea fleet; make a stop at the famous Cockscomb seafood restaurant; and race around the city and Fisherman’s Wharf in an open-air Go Car.
The company is searching for one more hopeful explorer to star in the fifth and final episode of “Big Country.” U.S. Cellular customers can apply online at www.USCellular.com/BigCountry by August 10.
“It was great working with Andrew to help these deserving customers have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Grant Leech, vice president of Brand Management at U.S. Cellular. “Through ‘Big Country’ we want people to know that they can get the data and voice coverage they need across the country.”
“As someone who has traveled around the world, it’s such a thrill to work with U.S. Cellular to help people check items off their bucket list and share the adventure with loved ones back home,” said Zimmern. “Making ‘Big Country’ was an incredible opportunity and I’m hoping it will inspire viewers to take their own adventures across the nation and beyond.”
Sharing experiences and staying in touch with family and friends are key themes in “Big Country,” and results from U.S. Cellular’s travel survey reveal some interesting facts supporting those themes. There are a myriad of benefits of traveling, but during travel Virginians agree that it is important they can reach others (81%) and others can reach them (74%). While they do not travel as much, women and younger Americans (18-34) are the most concerned about staying in touch with others while traveling and sharing images with others.
•Results are from an online survey of 3,562 nationally representative smart phone owners conducted by Ipsos Marketing on behalf of U.S. Cellular. The survey was conducted from June 18-25, 2015.
U.S. Cellular is the fifth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States, providing national network coverage and industry-leading innovations designed to elevate the customer experience. The Chicago-based carrier has a strong line-up of cutting-edge devices that are all backed by a high-quality network in big and small cities and rural communities. Currently, 94 percent of customers have access to 4G LTE speeds, and 98 percent will have access by the end of 2015.