Two girls standing in front of snow covered mountains
Hey Y’all!

I took a road trip that changed my life!

Okay, that might be a bit dramatic but it did change a lot of things. Hey! I’m Lori – the southerner of Southerner Says. I’m just a girl from the Alabama, who loves to travel. My mama always said that my middle initial “G” stood for go. Southerner Says is my way of sharing my “go” adventures with you. Let me catch you up.

My story is probably similar to a lot of people in the south. I grew up road tripping and traveling with my parents, mostly in the eastern United States. Summer vacations were spent in Florida and fall trips were spent in “the Smokies”. We did a lot of fun stuff, but with the exception of a few trips to NYC and Virginia, we never ventured out too much. Then, when I was fifteen, I had the chance to visit Mexico on a high school Spanish class field trip. After that I began to look at travel and other places in a different way. I fell hard for Mexico and was ready to see the world.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans. After I got married and moved to Georgia, adulting kept me busy. For years we were self-employed and even though you should take time off, it’s really hard to step away from your livelihood to travel. There were way too few vacation days and tight budgets.

Still, I traveled as much as I could – creatively learning how to stretch money and PTO days when I went to work at a hospital. I found ways to to satisfy my wanderlust – there were weekends in Atlanta, Florida beach vacations and plenty of road trips to Chicago to visit friends. All my spare change went into into a travel fund jar and I drove my Chevy Suburban over 300k miles just so what would have been spent on a car payment could go towards travel.

I’ve been riding down a two-lane highway, pretty much all of my life. Trying to do things my way. Wondering if I’ll get anywhere but where I came from. Hope I’m sane by the time I’m done.”

Jamey Johnson

I’ve always been a road tripper. Me in somewhere Colorado circa 1988

As time passed – a whole lot quicker than I wanted it to – I realized it was now or never. If I was going to do the things I dreamed about and see the world, something had to change. That change came about with the help of all things, an outsourced job and a severance package.

And the road trip I mentioned.

With the extra money from my severance, my daughter and I set out on a cross-country, 15 state, 6,680 mile road trip. Camping along the way from Georgia to California, we visited 9 national parks and 1 state park. And that was it. We were hooked and wanted to travel more so we came up with a plan.

Since my daughter was entering her last year of high school, she knew it was just a matter of time before she would be adulting too. We decided to make a list out all the places we wanted to go in the next five years. Let me tell you, it was a overambitious list but it was just what we needed to get the ball rolling on our goals.

I changed careers to a remote job – before they were cool – and since I worked in quarterly assignments, was able to travel between those assignments. Then, once my daughter moved away to college, I started traveling solo. I’d already been traveling alone for work so why not for fun too?

Did we do everything that was on our five year plan? Not even close. But that original road trip gave us a starting place. We proactively put our idea on paper and worked towards a goal. And we did manage to complete several more cross-country road trips together.

Even though we ultimately didn’t do everything on our list, it was still a win. Besides the travel plan, there were some personal goals on the list as well. I’ve always been a guidebook reader, travel note taker and trip planner. Talking about and planning a trip is almost as good as going on one. So, one of my goals was to start a blog. If you are reading this now, well, you know, I have a blog. Check.

In the few short years since I’ve had my blog, I’ve taken some epic road trips and woken up to some gorgeous views from my tent. I’ve been able to cross even more places off my bucket list. I’ve danced salsa in Cuba, saw the northern lights in Iceland and swam with whale sharks in Baja.

And all that travel didn’t just influence me. After visiting so many national parks together, my daughter now works for the National Park Service in a big western park. I’m couldn’t be more proud of her. The time we spent together road tripping is priceless and I still drive cross-country to visit her all the time, until hopefully, I go west permanently.

In this busy world, I know there are plenty of people out there just like me. People that have lives, jobs, kids and other responsibilities and can’t quit their jobs to travel. There are families with budgets that want to take fun vacations. There are women who want to travel solo but aren’t quite sure how to start. Southerner Says is my way of sharing my travel tips and adventures so you can create your own.

Until then, what’s next? Well, more travel and road trips, of course! I’m not a full-time traveler so when I’m at home, I spend my time with my dog Stella in my Georgia farmhouse plotting out an ever changing five year plan that includes maybe a podcast, leading group tour to Iceland or a Baja road trip. Who knows where I’ll go. After all, I have to live up to that middle initial.

That’s my travel story. What’s yours?

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