Table of Contents

Who is Jason?

I was born in a small town in Southwest Virginia and grew up in an even smaller town. But a national forest surrounded me, the Blue Ridge Parkway was an hour away, and Grayson Highlands State Park was an easy weekend destination. Outdoor adventures and road trips were influential parts of my childhood.

Unfortunately, finishing college was never part of my adulthood.

After graduating high school, I bounced around the East Coast between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Eventually settling in Wilmington, I attended the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, where I studied filmmaking.

That led me to my first job in photography. I was the university’s only student photographer. I learned the ins and outs of the photography business from a grueling boss while honing my photography skills.

After a lifetime of studying computer science, engineering, special education, psychology, and filmmaking in college, I finally left university life behind. I began a career as a travel photographer in 2009 when my first photos were published in a travel publication.

And then, I decided to start a travel blog.

How did it all start?

In 2012, I started the Southeastern Traveler blog. I wanted to get more attention for my photography. So, I began writing 3 to 5 paragraphs about my most recent adventure and then included a gallery of my best photos.

Photography has always been my greatest passion, but writing was my first. I spent thousands of hours of my childhood writing short stories and novels on the family’s first computer, a Compaq Presario.

The travel blog awakened the wordsmith within. Soon, my articles became more complex, diving into the depths of the travel world.

In 2018, I attended the Travel Blog Exchange annual conference in Corning, New York. I learned a lot about making travel blogging a successful career instead of just a mediocre side job. By the end of the year, everything changed.

What is Road Trips & Coffee?

Following the inspiration of TBEX, I decided to rebrand myself in early 2019. After spending weeks searching for a cohesive brand between social media handles and available domain names, I settled on Road Trips & Coffee – my favorite way to travel and my favorite morning beverage.

Road trips are my favorite way to travel, and coffee is my favorite morning beverage. It only made sense to create a travel blog where I explore these topics.

I spent weeks redesigning my website, optimizing my previous posts, and learning about keyword research. I had a new mission and a solid vision for where I wanted to head into the future.

Road Trips & Coffee is where I leverage my 15+ years of road-tripping experience to produce how-to guides, travel guides, and road trip itineraries. It’s where I share personal experiences, interviews with interesting people, and explore amazing destinations to visit during road trips across the country.

Mission Statement

I lost my way as a travel writer somewhere between founding Road Trips & Coffee in 2019, placing advertising on the website in 2022, and watching my Google traffic plummet in 2024.

That’s when I realized I’d lost my passion for writing and my focus on what mattered.

I made the same mistake that so many travel bloggers make: I focused too much on keyword ranking. After writing an article about things to do in Chattanooga’s NorthShore neighborhood, someone left a comment noting that it was spelled “NorthShore” and not “North Shore,” as I’d written in the article.

I foolishly replied that I chose “North Shore” because that was SEO-friendly. What complete and utter bull****.

When the 2023 Google Helpful Content Update was completed, blogs around the world saw a heartbreaking 90% drop in traffic – mine included. As I read Google’s explanation, I realized one of my crucial mistakes: I’d removed myself from my stories.

I no longer wrote anything in the first person or shared my personal views or offered tips from my own experiences. I’d completely removed myself and replaced first-person pronouns with third-person.

So, with this wake-up call, I decided it was time to return to what I loved the most: writing about road trips, travel, and coffee from my personal experience as a perpetual road tripper. And then, I took it one step further by developing a mission statement.

My mission with Road Trips & Coffee is to use my 15+ years of road-tripping experience to inspire people to travel, educate audiences about everything to do with road trips, and highlight the best road trip routes in the country.

This is more than just a mission statement. It is my promise to you.