Confessions of an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Driver

By Budget Travel
October 3, 2012
Courtesy <a href="" target="_blank">pixajen/Flickr</a>

What’s it like to spend a year driving around the country in a 27–foot Oscar Mayer Wienermobile? We interviewed driver Reese Brammell to find out.

Q: Can you tell me your name?

RB: Reese Brammell, but in the hot–dogger game, we go by aliases. I’m “Reese with Relish.” You’d be “Mustard Marc.”

Q: What made you want to tour the country in a humongous hot dog?

RB: I was in my senior year of college, and I realized I wanted to take a break to travel. I googled “fun things to do after graduation” and stumbled upon a blog that mentioned that the Wienermobile hires drivers every year. It was 3 A.M., and I immediately cranked out a cover letter telling them I’d “relish” the opportunity and here’s my “beefed–up” résumé.

Q: What’s it like to drive a hot dog?

RB: You feel like you’re in a parade. People always wave and honk—you have to get used to it. The first week on the job I thought people driving by were mad at me all the time.

Q: It must be a nightmare to park.

RB: We always travel with a partner, so if we ever have to do crazy maneuvering, one of us can get out and direct. We’re very careful not to scratch our buns.

Q: How much do you hate the Oscar Mayer wiener jingle?

RB: We have speakers on the outside that play the jingle all the time. Inside, we have our own radio. We have a nice little hot–dogger exchange, where we give each other CDs. If we’re going to a certain region, I like to make a mix of songs that apply to it. Driving out to California, I made a Beach Boys/West Coast rap mix. Going down to Georgia, I made a country album. It makes a long drive more fun!

Q: What have you learned on the road that may help other travelers?

RB: Online tools are fine, but the best advice comes from people who volunteer it themselves, the people who say: “Are you all locals? No? Oh my God—here’s what you have to do!”

Q: Have you picked up any unusual regional hot dog recipes?

RB: I went to the Carolinas, and I was eating a lot of coleslaw with barbecue. Someone asked me, “You know what we put on our hot dogs here?” I was joking: “Oh, I don’t know...coleslaw?!” And they said, “How’d you know?!” In Louisiana, they put on chili and cheese and crunch onions over the top. One little kid told me he put peanut butter and jelly on his hot dog. I think he might’ve been pulling my leg.


Confessions of a Cruise Ship Musician

Confessions of a Flight Attendant

Confessions of a National Park Ranger

Keep reading

5 Lessons Learned From A Visit To Venice

I've already shared my 7 tips for visiting Rome. Now it's time for Venice, one of the world's most romantic cities. (See the 14 Venetian scenes our photographers love the most.) Invest in a multiple–day water transit pass to save money on canal rides If only we had realized this sooner. Instead of paying about $9 USD per ride in on the vaporetto—just think of it as a floating public city bus that travels up and down the Grand Canal—we should have purchased a tourist water transit pass. Options include about $24 for 12 hours of unlimited rides, $26 for 24 hours, and $33 for 36 hours. Definitely a mental note for next time. Not only will the taxis get you where you want to be, but you'll also be riding up and down the scenic Grand Canal (don't forget to have your camera ready). Save money with free attractions and prix fixe dinner specials Not everything in Venice costs money. You can view San Marco Square in all it's glory (along with thousands of other tourists), snap photos of the outside of the Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners would sigh as they took their last view of Venice before being marched to their cells. You can also brave the line at St. Mark's Basilica—just make sure your shoulders and knees are covered as modesty is key in Italian churches—and view beautiful mosaics, statues, and other works of art for free inside. As we wandered through the tiny winding streets of Venice around Piazza San Marco, we came across a lot of small, family owned restaurants with prix fixe signs advertising lunch and dinner specials. We chose to try Trattoria Alla Scala and paid about $25 per person for a delicious four–course meal. Be prepared for a beautiful, yet crowded, experience Unfortunately, you are not the only tourists in Venice. It may seem like everywhere you go is full of people, especially between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when cruise ships pull in and take their passengers on shore excursions to the museums within the Piazza San Marco. If you feel like the crowds are too much, take a break from it all at the Giardinetti Reali, or Royal Gardens, and still be a few steps from Piazza San Marco. We stumbled upon this vast, open flower–filled space by accident when we took a wrong turn between the San Marco vaporetto stop and the Piazza. It was pretty empty, apart from a few Italian speakers who were having lunch in the park, and unbelievably quiet considering it was just around the corner from the tourist–filled Piazza San Marco. Don't be afraid to ask for directions We stayed at Hotel Caneva, a bed and breakfast type of place within walking distance of the Piazza San Marco, and just across the way from the house where Casanova once lived and loved. Unfortunately for us, it was tucked in the back of one of Venice's small canal–side alleyways and we found ourselves asking local shopkeepers for directions in our best attempt at Italian. One person even pulled out a map and drew on it so we would know where to go. It was our first hour in Italy and we were already impressed with how friendly and helpful the people were. Embrace all the challenges Venice presents Our hotel room was right along the canal, something we quickly learned was both a blessing and a curse—we loved hearing the gondaliers singing as they passed by our room throughout the day (similar to what's shown in this YouTube video), but could also hear the boats passing down the waterway at night when we tried to sleep, a different, but noisy experience. Be ready for anything in Venice.


6 Under-the-Radar Hollywood Hot Spots

We know: Resisting Tinseltown’s glitzy icons is futile. But once you’ve checked the must&ndash;sees off your list, what next? Try adding these six stops to the tourist circuit. Cat &amp; Fiddle This British pub is located in a 1929 building that once housed part of the Casablanca set. Opened by British Invasion rocker Kim Gardner and still run by his family, the bar features authentic pub grub and live music on its sprawling patio. 6530 Sunset Blvd., bangers and mash $10.75. Hennessey + Ingalls You don’t need to be the next Frank Gehry to enjoy this specialty architecture and arts bookstore, an offshoot of the Santa Monica flagship. With guides to local Art Deco landmarks, coffee table books on L.A.’s famed mansions, and Moleskine film journals to record your very own reviews, it’s a smart souvenir alternative to the kitsch shops lining Hollywood Blvd. 1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Moleskine Passions Film Journal $20. Umami Burger In-N-Out Burger may finally have some competition in the hearts of Angelenos. Umami is named for what the Japanese call the fifth taste&mdash;the indescribable savory flavor that doesn’t quite qualify as sweet, sour, bitter, or salty. Umami’s signature burger comes topped with shiitakes and a parmesan crisp; others include white soy aioli, slow&ndash;roasted tomatoes, or truffle ricotta. Browse the racks at open&ndash;air shopping venue Space 15 Twenty while you wait&mdash;and you will. 1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd., burgers from $10. Hollywood Farmers’ Market It’s fitting that this weekend produce fair is a block from Vine. In addition to nearly 90 farm stands, the market includes artisanal bakers, clothing stalls, and food vendors like Grill Masters, where the rotisserie chicken is a citywide hit. Ivar and Selma Aves., whole chicken $11. Grub The folks at Grub, including Top Chef contender Betty Fraser, met waiting tables at California Pizza Kitchen. Now they’ve invented their own Golden State comfort food, such as blueberry almond granola pancakes with raspberry butter. Bonus: Instead of bread on the table, you’ll find bowls of Froot Loops. 911 Seward St., pancakes $9. Hollywood Forever Cemetery The cemetery, built in 1899, isn’t as famous as Forest Lawn, but it still has its fair share of legends, such as Cecil B. DeMille and Rudolph Valentino. The grounds are often turned into a lively party spot with open&ndash;air BYOB screenings of modern classics, like E.T. and Annie Hall, and pre-show sets by noted DJs. 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., screenings $10. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 20 Places Every American Should See 10 Restaurants That Started a Food Movement A Fresh Take on Los Angeles


Anthony Bourdain's Last Season of 'No Reservations' Airs Labor Day

It's the end of an era&mdash;well, almost. Anthony Bourdain's hit travel show, No Reservations, will begin its last season on The Travel Channel at 9 p.m. EST on Monday, Sept. 3rd, with an episode featuring Austin, Texas. The final season will showcase cities around the world, with the series finale planned for Brooklyn, New York. Since his show first premiered in July of 2005, we've been given the chance to follow the delightfully snarky host on his adventures around the world, showing us the regional delicacies and traditional meals of a particular place, and giving us an inside look at the cultures and people he visited. From a first televised trip to Cuba, to a painful&ndash;to&ndash;watch ATV flip in the sand, Bourdain has done it all. In one memorable episode during a trip to Lebanon, he and his camera crew were caught up in the midst of an ongoing war, and kept cameras rolling while they waited things out at a nearby hotel for eight days. He's filmed shows about the food he grew up with in New York City, venturing to the outer boroughs for more cultural experiences and culinary inspiration. Over the years, he's given us tips for finding the best food on the road and even showed us how to make the best of a long layover during our travels. On a more personal note, watching his show has always reminded me of why I got into the travel business in the first place: there is no limit to the things you can experience, learn, and of course, eat, when you leave the familiar comforts of home. Although I didn't get into No Reservations until later&mdash;I can remember idolizing Samantha Brown on Girl Meets Hawaii long before that&mdash;Bourdain's thoughtful, observational remarks and unabashed reflective commentary are what kept me coming back for more. Will you miss the show? Do you have a favorite episode? Tell us about it below. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 5 Travel Shows You’ve Never Seen&mdash;But Should! Would You Watch This New Travel Show? 35 Passport Stamps Worth Bragging About


Where Are You Going for Labor Day Weekend?

It seems that a slow economy and high gas prices aren't deterring Americans from taking advantage of the last official long weekend of summer. According to AAA, 33 million people will travel at least 50 miles for a Labor Day getaway, up almost three percent over 2011. About 85 percent of you will be taking to the roads instead of the skies, with most trips averaging between 100 and 400 miles round&ndash;trip. Though gas prices are up 14 cents a gallon compared to late August 2011, car rental prices are down about 10 percent from last year, averaging $39 a day. The BT staff 's plans helps validate the findings: An unofficial office poll found that most of us are planning on traveling this weekend&mdash;by car. What about you? Where are you going this weekend? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Planning a Quick Getaway? Don't Make These Common Mistakes 8 Items You Never Pack, But Should 5 Unusually Dangerous—and 5 Especially Safe–Places to Drive