Earlier this year when life threw a batch of lemons in Allison Bohrman’s path, rather than making lemonade, she took a road trip.
The 2006 Lebanon High School alumna, 32, had a fabulous job as an accountant for Crowe, the eighth-largest global accounting network in the world, working out of its Los Angeles office for more than four years including a six-month stint in the Cayman Islands.
Her career was going full speed ahead. Then along came a vicious little bug called the coronavirus.
“The first five years were great. I had so many travel opportunities. Not many people can pack up and go,” said Bohrman, who was on the road more often than not for her firm.
“Over time, with an increase of responsibilities, the job shifted and I wasn’t traveling as much. When COVID-19 hit, Crowe let go a pretty big part of its workforce. In April, I got laid off. It was a complete shock. I was devastated. It was hard to not to feel like a failure. I worked so hard. I got my CPA. I thought I had made the right decisions. I was pretty sad for a while.”
Bohrman, an experienced globe trekker who had seen 23 countries, set her fertile mind to spinning. In 2018 she spent two weeks halfway round the world in Bali attending a bloggers’ camp for travel writers.
“I thought, ‘I’ve got a little bit of money in the bank. I’ve got time right now. I think it’s OK to travel,’ ” she recalled.
Thus, on June 14 she set off on the first of two lengthy road trips in her 2019 Honda CRV.
“I’ve been solo road tripping practically this entire time. I was given time I had never had before,” said the accountant, who had been sharing details about her travels via Instagram on her “Forever on Vacay” blog, which she has transformed into a website, Foreveronvacay.com, which offers panoramic photos and travel tips about motoring across the U.S.A.
“I’ve not been traveling extravagantly but am having rich experiences. I’m able to make it, and I want others to see that, while there’s a lot of negativity in the world, you can take what you do have control over and make that work for you. You can be at the very bottom and find something positive and come out on top,” she said.
Part of her motivation, she said, comes from a Bear Grylls quote: “Adventure should be 80 percent ‘I think this is manageable,’ but it’s good to have that last 20 percent where you're right outside your comfort zone. Still safe, but outside your comfort zone.”
“I want to challenge people to find that mix and conquer the 20 percent almost as a sort of travel coach. I’ve learned so much from my own experiences like this and the feeling of success afterward is so empowering that I feel unstoppable.”
The first trip
Her first road trip, which went from June 14 to July 3, proved to be a test as she explored California and the Pacific Northwest from Los Angeles to Seattle and put 2,400 miles on her vehicle.
“I had never really camped before this and had always wanted to do the Pacific Northwest,” said Bohrman, who camped along the coast. “I got to see a lot of space without people in it. It was kind of spectacular but really sort of eerie. I had heard about the California coast, but the Oregon coast really was more beautiful.”
Returning to Los Angeles, misfortune struck as she was involved in a car accident and she had to have her vehicle repaired.
Undaunted, on Aug. 7, she set out on a second, much longer trip, spending 10 days in Las Vegas, and then it was down the highway to Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, the Dakotas and Minnesota. Among the sights she gleaned were the National Parks in Utah; Deadwood, S.D.; and the Badlands. From there she traveled to the upper peninsula of Michigan and saw Mackinac Island.
It was while cruising Michigan that she realized, “I hadn’t seen fall in the past two years. We don’t get that in California, all the colors. It wasn’t even cool yet and there was still a little bit of green but, wow, it was really beautiful.”
From the Great Lake State, she rolled through Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma (hopping on to Route 66 in Oklahoma City), Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Over the later stages of driving she went from driving five hours a day to more like nine or 10 hours.
On the road plans
Bohrman’s mother, Carol, has been enthralled by her rambling daughter’s on-the-road reports from across the country and admits she’s a bit surprised by her daring.
“Allison was going to be a graphic designer. She is doing that with her posts. I am amazed at how much she likes camping, as we never went. She said Zion Park was her favorite. At least she doesn’t go off hiking those trails and get off the grid where you get lost,” said Carol.
“She loves exploring as when she was little, we used to work a puzzle called ‘Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?’ We had a Dora the Explorer doll in her backpack. I am glad she is able to do this now and not have regrets if she ever gets tied down. I just keep telling her to enjoy the view.”
A thrifty traveler, Allison estimated the road tripping has cost her an average of $1,300 a month. Her cheapest night stay was $20 at the Zion National Park campground and the costliest was $200 at a Monument Valley Airbnb. Most nights she camps out. She said it takes about half an hour to set up camp.
“I have an air mattress that I bought it in Arizona. When I left California, I had a small one, only six or eight inches off the ground. I woke up on the ground one morning and was freezing and a little bit angry. So, I invested in a nice air mattress that is 14 inches off the ground. I have an adapter in my car and an extension cord to fill my air mattress. I sleep well but also use ear plugs and a mask.”
As for meals, Bohrman said, “I actually don’t enjoy cooking in general. I’m a minimalist. I have an all-in-one pot and stove. I have freeze-dried meals so I just add boiling water and let it sit a few minutes. Among my choices are turkey, chicken casserole and spaghetti. I like them pretty good.”
She confessed that during the two months after departing Los Angeles, she has dined 24 times at Cracker Barrel at 13 locations in nine states.
Regarding her Foreveronvacay.com website, she said, “My goal is to offer basic tips and tricks for how people can travel and also help with mind shift about how they may be limiting themselves. Anybody can do this. I’m not a pro camper. I want to share that so other people can learn,” said Bohrman, who earned a business administration degree from Middle Tennessee State University and a master’s degree in accounting from Belmont University.
For example, she says, “You don’t have to have a fancy camera to take photos. I bought a Sony Alpha 7R II for stills and a Go Pro. I’ve taken 8,000 photos but not all of them are that good.”
“My long-term goal with the business is to get sponsors but another aspect of the plan is to provide travel and event guides. I’ll have itineraries, packing lists, gear guides, etc., but I plan to also include some personal development tips to challenge readers to identify ways they’re holding themselves back from taking trips or doing things like this.”
The second trip
Bohrman concluded her second leg exploring New Mexico and Arizona. In New Mexico, she discovered White Sands National Park.
“That is a really cool place with white sand dunes in the middle of the desert. And most unexpected was Carlsbad Caverns. I didn’t realize how close it was, so I thought, ‘Hey, I’m right here. Let me go check this out.’ I don’t remember the last time I’ve been in a cave. This is why I love doing this: finding places like that.”
While in Arizona, she ogled the giant cacti in Saguaro National Park and zipped through Flagstaff, Sedona and Prescott before winding her way back to the Golden State and her L.A apartment on Oct. 17. All total, the second leg tripped almost 10,000 miles on her odometer.
As for the most important life lesson she gleaned from her time on the road, she said, “Mindset is so important. I should have been spending a month in Europe, but Covid happened. I’ve found there is really beauty everywhere in all of these states. Just so much right around the corner. I never thought I would have this kind of adventure this close to home.
“I never expected to be gallivanting around for two months. It’s definitely been a learning experience. I know I will have to have a job that pays the bills at some point,” said the weary traveler, realizing at some point life will return to some sort of normal.
However, she’s already setting her sights on her next vacay. It might be going south to Joshua Tree National Park or north to Yosemite National Park.
ALLISON SEES THE USA
Allison Bohrman from Lebanon offers trip tips at her website, Foreveronvacay.com. Here is an example of her Instagram blog:
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
I’ve visited 21 states so far in 2020, and Michigan surprised me more than any other. Aside from being captivated by the rainbow colors of fall, there’s so much to do here!
Five things to do just on Michigan’s upper peninsula:
Visit Mackinac Island before the tourist season winds down
Drive across Mackinaw Bridge to the southern peninsula, and stargaze at Headlands International Dark Sky Park
Tour the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie. It’s an engineering marvel that takes you as close as you can get to Canada without setting foot on Canadian soil
Visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park. You can hike to viewing points atop and level with the upper falls, and rent a rowboat to paddle out to an island separating the lower falls. Don’t forget to visit the brewery while at the upper falls too!
Cruise Lake Superior to get the best views of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore