Written by Angie Barbour, Edited by Heather Smith
All photography submitted by and credited to Angie Barbour
Angie is a teacher, an artist and a mom to seven. After she spent more than a decade as a single mom, her youngest graduated high school in 2022, and she’s been on a journey since to explore life and travel on her own terms.
You can follow her adventures on Instagram at @bmommyx7.
Do you remember the age you first traveled? How do you think that impacted your perception of travel?
My dad was in the Navy, so I grew up traveling. The first flight I remember was when I was 5 years old. My dad was stationed in Naples, Italy, so we moved there. Really, I have loved traveling since then, whether by plane, train or automobile (and on foot, by bicycle, via kayak, etc.)
Do you have a favorite type of travel?
Road trips for sure. This year has been the year of solo travel! It has been a journey of redemption, courage and growth for me. I enjoy traveling with family too, but this year has been all about being outdoors, with lots of camping, hiking and adventuring! I also really enjoy visiting art museums and have a list of all of the ones I have been to, I hope to add a lot more to that list in my lifetime!
Do you have a most memorable trip?
I took myself on a trek across the country this summer (2023), and it will be my most memorable, not only for the trip itself but for what it represents for me! I drove from Indiana to Idaho by myself. I camped in five states (Minnesota two times, North Dakota, Montana two times, Idaho and South Dakota). I saw wildlife up close and personal. I saw the most majestic mountains, beautiful flowers, jaw-dropping open skies, exhilarating rivers, and on and on and on. I love the quote by Ray Bradbury:
“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
That quote came to mind over and over during my trip. I feel like I stuffed my eyes to overflowing with wonder several times over.
In second place is the time my ex-husband and I took our seven kids backcountry camping in the Smoky Mountains for five days —more than 20 years ago! We were crazy and naive and did not fully realize what we were taking on. But it was INCREDIBLE!! One of the days, we hiked (with all of the kids…Jackson was one year old and rode in a backpack carrier on his dad’s back) to a waterfall and back. It took us seven HOURS to get there! We made it, though. And 20 years later, that trip comes up regularly in conversations with my kids about good memories and adventures.
Third place would be the time I went to visit my dad. He had been diagnosed with ALS, and his health was declining. I flew out for a visit, and while I was there, I downloaded the AllTrails app. Every morning, I would pick a piece of citrus (he had orange, grapefruit and pomegranate trees) to have with my breakfast and coffee. Then, each day I would choose a different moderate hike in the mountains near my dad’s house, sit at the top (usually in a cave), think and cry about my dad, come back down, and enjoy the rest of the days with him. It was cathartic and healing.
This year has been the year of solo travel! It has been a journey of redemption, courage and growth for me.
What makes you seek out certain adventures, like your cross-country trip to Idaho?
My ex-husband and I used to take our kids camping quite a lot when they were growing up, and had amassed quite the collection of camping gear. We got really good at it. In the midst of our ugly divorce, my ex-husband told me I would not be getting ANY of the camping stuff. After the divorce, I was so broke, a single mom working multiple jobs, spending all of my time and energy just trying to survive. It took me about 12 years to get to a place where I was comfortable enough to start thinking about vacations and leisure activities.
Last year, I got the crazy idea to buy a tent and an air mattress and plan a solo road trip instead of buying plane tickets to go to Idaho to see my kids who have moved out there. And let me tell you, that trip has lit something on fire in me…an overwhelming desire to seek solitude and peace in nature in my Jeep and my tent. Hence, my journey of redemption!
Do you have a favorite place?
ANYWHERE OUT WEST!!! Camping in Montana, Idaho and the Dakotas was breathtaking!!! The Smoky Mountains, Tennessee side. We would enter the national park in Townsend, Tennessee. We also hiked all of Cades Cove once. The waterfall we went to was called Abrams Falls.
My dad lived near the Superstition Mountains outside Phoenix, Arizona. Wave Cave and Wind Cave were my favorite spots — I guess I’m a mountain girl at heart!
What part of travel do you find the most challenging?
As a solo female traveler, it’s just the anxiety about the unknown. What if something happens to me? What if my car breaks down? What if I’m camping and bad weather pops up? It feels negative in the moment, but I feel very badass and fierce every time I press on and overcome it!
Why is travel important to you?
It means everything! It represents taking back my power and autonomy over my life. It brings freedom and builds courage. It heals my heart and soothes my soul. It means absolutely everything to me.
What have you learned about yourself?
Travel has taught me that I am stronger than I ever knew. It has helped me to take ownership over my life and has built my confidence exponentially.
Do you have favorite apps you use when traveling?
The app and website “The Dyrt” is awesome! I paid $0 for some pretty incredible camping spots that I never would have found otherwise. I also found a camping checklist that was perfect. It had everything I needed for my trip and subsequent camping trips without being superfluous. You can find that list here. Being prepared is the best way to reduce anxiety and allows you to relax and enjoy the trip!
Do you have a favorite travel blogger?
Um, Journey Here Travel, duh!