Our Story

It all started on an overnight train

Some people start companies after doing extensive research and planning. I didn't do that.

In 2017, after quitting an IT consulting job that was slowly driving me insane, I decided to go on a group tour to Eastern Europe.

During the tour, my group took a 10-hour overnight rail journey from Romania to Moldova in pursuit of Soviet relics, outdated tanks, and great stories. During the journey, I spent a lot of time talking with some of my fellow passengers from around the world about what it's like to live in the United States. Amid the sweaty confines of the aging train's bar car (and after a bit of unlabeled alcohol lovingly crafted by a Moldovan grandmother), I realized that there are people out there who are interested in learning about the culture, cuisine, and quirks of the Midwestern U.S.

From tank admirer to tour guide: the natural progression

From tank admirer to tour guide: the natural progression

The train. Looks like a prime spot to start a business, no?

The train. Looks like a prime spot to start a business, no?

I was an Iowa boy exploring Moldova, and I figured that there are probably others like me who are interested in exploring unique places that don’t fall into the category of traditional tourist destinations.

So, while still on vacation a few days later, I hopped on the spotty wi-fi at a little campsite in Montenegro and called my parents in Iowa to tell them I was moving back in with them and starting a tour company. Within a day, I had my first website up and running, and altSTATES was born.

Since then, my team and I have helped guests from Milwaukee to Mumbai enjoy some of the best people, places, and things in the Quad Cities and beyond. We look forward to showing you the land we love!


How we're different

When you're with altSTATES, you aren't a number on a spreadsheet - you're a friend. 

We operate under a few simple, but important, principles.

  1. Put you - the guest - first. Creating a great experience for you drives everything we do.

  2. Listen to locals and support our community by bringing awareness to initiatives and customers to businesses.

  3. Go off the beaten path rather than the following the crowd.

altSTATES Travel founder/van driver/tour guide, Brendan

altSTATES Travel founder/van driver/tour guide, Brendan


It takes a village


Safety matters

altSTATES is licensed and insured and holds motor carrier operating authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the State of Iowa.