Southern Experiences

A Quintessential Southern Town {Madison, GA}

Located in the historic heartland of Georgia sits the quintessential southern town of Madison. Only an hour from Atlanta and an hour and a half from Augusta, this city has built a name for its self as being one the South’s Best Towns and World’s Most Beautiful Towns. It also boasts one of the largest historic districts in Georgia.

Spared during Sherman’s “March to the Sea,” this southern belle of a city is filled with antebellum charm. The town was established in 1809 and named after the US’s 4th President, James Madison. Madison grew in fame with its reputation as “the most cultured and aristocratic town on the stagecoach route from Charleston to New Orleans,” but got its wealth from the town’s cotton-boom heyday from 1840-60.

Antebellum Beauty

Madison boasts nearly 100 antebellum homes along its tree-lined avenues, many of which are in beautifully restored condition.

Related: The “Honeymoon” Mansion

Heritage Hall, also known as the Jones-Turnell-Manley House, was built in 1811 and served a private residence for 166 years until 1977. It is now maintained by the Morgan County Historical Society and is one the most visited tourist attractions in Madison.

Fun Fact: Look for the window etchings. Daughters and granddaughters of Dr. Elijah Evans Jones used the windows to check the legitimacy of their diamond engagement rings. 

Barrow Academy

Madison has a rich history of education. Barrow Academy is one of only two New Orleans cottage-style houses in the city. The house was constructed in 1840 to be an academy for boys, but when the Civil War broke out, it became a makeshift hospital for all of the injured soldiers that arrived into Madison via train.

Additionally, this property is home to the oldest structure in the town that initially served as a slave house.

Churches of Madison

Religion was a large part of Madison’s establishment. Each domination was provided an acre of land by the by the Inferior Court of Morgan County in 1825, and to this day the original buildings still stand.

Church of the Advent was built in 1844 by the Methodist Church and is currently home to the congregation of the Episcopal faith.

The Madison Baptist Church, organized in 1834, formerly worshiped on the site of Calvary Baptist Church on Academy Street and moved to its current location on Main Street in 1858 after the completion of the building. All the stain glass is original to the building.

Right next door to the Baptist Church is the Madison Presbyterian Church. This building was built in 1842 by skilled architect and mason, Daniel Killian, after the congregation had worshiped in homes and the courthouse for 21 years. Be sure to visit the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center to see the original communion set that was stolen during the Civil War. It is stunning, as are the original stain glass windows.


What is your favorite antebellum city?

Southern Experiences

The “Honeymoon” Mansion

Thank you to Lake Oconee Living for allowing me to feature the “Honeymoon” mansion. 

Four dramatic Doric columns make this grand home on the south end of Madison’s historic district a quintessential example of the Greek Revival style built in 1851. The entire house is 5,000 square feet.

This home, known as the “Honeymoon” mansion, was owned by the Godfrey-Candler-Hunt family. If you know the history of Atlanta, this house was home to Charles Candler the son of the founder of Emory University and the nephew of the man responsible for Coca-Cola’s early growth.

This home has gone through some significant changes and renovations thanks to Jimmy Stanton of Stanton Home Furnishings. Mr. Stanton calls “Honeymoon” his second home, as he splits his time between Atlanta and Madison. He purchased the house three years ago and since then has made this historic home quite the statement piece in Madison.

As you enter the front door, you are welcomed by a two-story entrance foyer that reminded Mr. Stanton of the entrance from Grey Gardens. It was one of the elements that drew him to the home. To the left and right of the entrance foyer are two parlors designed to imitate day and night. The dark parlor is one of Mr. Stanton’s favorite rooms.

As you move towards the back of the house, there is a secondary foyer with a sitting area and dining room. The back of the home has a butler’s pantry and cozy kitchen. Personally, I loved the dining room and all the books in the fireplace.

As you exit out one of the back doors, you move into a beautifully manicured property of five acres. The back of the property includes a pool and pool house, which was originally the garage and potting shed, as well as a firepit and outdoor dining area. The pool house is another favorite room to the owner.

Upstairs boasts four bedrooms, all with a diverse style and stunning views.

The renovations took all of two weeks to complete, including a complete renovation of the kitchen and pool house.

All the floral work in the home was designed by Zeb Grant Design. All of the Christmas floral decorations were sourced from the property and were designed to meld together traditional and modern.


Holiday Gift Guide: 25 Travel Gift Ideas Under $25

There’s a reason $25 is such a popular dollar amount for gift exchanges and gift cards. It’s just the right amount to afford a present that’s worthwhile to the recipient without putting a strain on your wallet.

At this price point, there are some crowd-pleasers you can purchase for a friend or coworker. If you know they are into travel, check out this list of things I love to treat myself to and bring along when I’m on the road.

Related: Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Travel Gifts Under $10

Packing Cube Set

The one thing every traveler desires is more space when they are packing, and that is where packing cubes come in handy. Plus they make packing and unpacking a breeze once your traveler arrives to their destination. This cube set from Amazon is a budget-friendly option.

Dry Bags

Dry Bags come in extremely handy when traveling. I use them a lot like packing cubes, but I also keep one in my backpack at all times in case an unexpected rainstorm comes. I throw my electronics and camera into it to ensure they stay dry.

Face Mask

Traveling takes a toll on your skin when you travel thanks to the change in environment, lack of sleep, and usually dehydration. Treat your traveler with an assortment of face masks. I always take a face mask with me on my trips to help give my face a little TLC.

Kissable Color

In addition to treating your travelers face, also treat their lips. Burt’s Bees lip care is one of my favorites! Plus now that they come in colors, it replaces my lipsticks when I’m doing very compact traveling.

Carry-on Cocktail Kits

These pocket-sized kits are the ultimate treat to toast to the next adventure. This kit includes everything you need to create a Moscow Mule, one of my favorites, mid-flight, but it also comes in Bloody Mary, Gin & Tonic, and Old Fashioned.

Postcards & Calendars

If your traveler is a fan of snail mail during their travels, then these postcards from Anderson Design Group are just the thing they need. I, personally, love the Southern Design kit and the build your own. This city map set from Rifle Paper Co. is another favorite of mine. I also can’t get over the Rifle Paper Co.’s calendars, and I look forward to getting one every year.

On the Go Game Pad

This notebook is full of classic games like hangman and dots and boxes will help pass the time on flights or long road trips (in the passenger’s seat, of course).

Emergency Kit

You never know what the road will bring so having a first aid kit on hand is very helpful. I really like this one because it is a good size and comes pre-stocked with plenty of supplies.

Travel Humidifier

Another one of my travel essentials is a travel humidifier. This one converts a water bottle into a humidifier, which is super helpful in the winter months when the air is much dryer.

Tile Mate

Tile Mate is a handy racker if your traveler tends to lose things!

Bottle Cap Tripod

No need to travel a bulky tripod around, when you can add this bottle-top pod to the top of your water bottle.


Another alternative to a bulky tripod is a GorillaPod. I do not travel anywhere without mine, and I absolutely love it!

Solar Charger

Depending on where your traveler is going a solar charger could be the perfect gift! This charger is compact enough to function anywhere you want, and it is suitable for a wide range of occasions like flights, parties, BBQ and other outdoor activities. Plus it comes in multiple colors.

Bluetooth Speaker

One of the best ways to make friends while on the road is music. It’s a language everyone understands. So treat your traveler with a portable Bluetooth speaker that they can take anywhere with them and share their tunes with their new friends.

Travel Adventure Map

This scratch-off map is the perfect way for your traveler to keep track of all their adventures.

Travel Wall Art

Another fun way to document all of your traveler’s destinations is with wall art. I particularly like these luggage tag posters.

Language Guides

Language guides are a handy thing to have for when visiting a new country. I really enjoy the Lonely Planet phrasebooks as they make it easy to use when on the road.

Travel Pillow

Travel pillows are a great companion for those super long flights. There is nothing quite like landing and having a crick in your neck.

Travel Necklace

Anyone who loves to travel has a small obsession with world maps. This world necklace makes for the perfect gift for the traveler who wants to keep the world close by.

Compression Socks

I have found the older I get, the more my feet swell when I travel on long flights. Compression socks have become a life-saver. I love these colorful socks because if you are going to wear them, they might as well be fun!

Travel Steamer

If you have a traveler who hates wrinkles, then you need to treat them to a travel steamer. This one is perfect for compact travel needs and heats up quickly! It’s the perfect companion when you aren’t sure if there will be an iron available.

Travel Hairdryer

Not every destination has a hairdryer, which is a complete shame. I use this one when hotels do not have one available. It’s very compact and includes ceramic technology to fight frizz.


Daypacks come in very handy when touring a new place. This one is super lightweight and has plenty of space for your guidebooks and cameras.

Hydration Pack

Depending on the types of activities your traveler enjoys, a hydration pack is a very useful thing gift. I use mine for day hikes and those very long, hot days. This pack is compact and holds a 2L bottle.

Gift Card

An Amazon gift card or one to their favorite store is always an easy go-to. I love getting gift cards because I can purchase exactly what I want when I need it.


Why Travel Matters

It is no secret that I believe the greatest gift you can give someone is the gift of travel. The act of getting outside your home or local sphere to experience new places, new foods, new people, and even new languages is part of human nature. We were designed to explore.

Related: Travel is My Love Language

The most important reason, to me, of why I travel is the connections we make. Thanks to traveling I have friends in multiple states and countries all across the world. People that I have met either over a pint of beer in a local pub or have spent a week alongside them wandering their country. We have shared our likes and dislikes, the similarities and differences between our homes. And what did a learn over these discussions? We are not all that different after all.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote, To travel is to live.” // Hans Christian Andersen

Traveling also provides a sense of freedom. Travel comes with its time of stress and anxiety, but it also provides the option to unplug and experience leisure time that we normally don’t experience at home. Time on a flight, for me, is when I catch up on my latest novel instead of my emails. Travel provides you the ability to do the things that you want to do, when you want to do them, at your own pace with no pressure from anyone but yourself. How often do we get that option at home?

Related: How to Manage Travel Anxiety

Travel is also an extreme challenge. You are purposefully putting yourself outside your comfort zone. No matter where you go, there will be no sights, smells, and all around assault to the senses. But once you concur your new environment, you will feel a sense of pride like you have never felt before.

Finally, travel teaches us humility. There is nothing like walking into a third-world country and seeing poverty to the magnitude face-to-face. When visiting countries of the second- and third-world, try stepping outside the lush environment of the resort life to experience the authenticity of the country. It’ll help put your problems into perspective, and realize just how thankful you truly are for the opportunity.


Why does travel matter to you?


How to Manage Travel Anxiety

Most people in the world dream of travel, but travel anxiety is also very common. If you suffer from travel anxiety, I have a secret for you…I do too.

There are trips where I’ll be perfectly okay as I prepare and then other trips where I have a full-on panic attack as I pack my bags. However, it is something I acknowledge and work to combat every time I prepare to leave home for an extended period of time.

Since I know I’m not the only one who suffers from anxiety; I want to share some of my tips to help you overcome, so panic attacks and anxiety don’t put a damper on your travel plans.

Dealing with Travel Anxiety before You Leave

Remind Yourself WHY You Want to Travel
Whenever you start to feel the anxiety rise, stop and take a deep breath and picture yourself in your destination. Imagine yourself having the time of your life without any anxiety. Picture yourself dreaming the life you want to live. These positive affirmations will calm you down. Can’t do it yourself? Have a friend or family member talk these positive affirmations over with you.
Meticulously Plan
Anxiety often stems from feeling like you’re not in control, so try to stem it by taking your trip planning to the extreme. Anyone who has ever traveled with me knows I like to have everything planned to the hour. That can cause stress for some people, but for me, the focus provides that sense of control that often doesn’t accompany travel.
Find a Community
You need a support system to help you travel and to help you manage your anxiety. Find a group or two you like and connect well with the other members, and integrate yourself into the groups by lending advice as much as you ask for it. These groups will be there when you need them most.

Dealing with Travel Anxiety on Your Trip

Form a Routine
Travel can be stressful, and it’s often the lack of routine that increases the chance of anxiety. To create the sense of control, form a routine while you are away that is similar to your routine at home. Set your alarm every day or go to the same cafe for breakfast. Small things that you can control will help.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Repeated exposure to your fears is better than avoidance. Don’t let your fears prevent you from living your life. I get that it’s scary, but once you step outside your comfort zone you’ll be so proud of yourself, and you’ll want to do it again because you know you can. Travel provides an excellent outlet for tackling several fears at once, and when it feels overwhelming just try some calming techniques and try again.
Avoid Your Triggers
We all have triggers that heighten our anxiety. Before you leave, make a list of those things and try to minimize your exposure to these while you are away.
Don't Compare Your Experiences
It’s super easy to get beat down when we look at our friends travel experiences. Social media gives everyone a sense of inadequacy, but don’t let those feelings lead to anxiety. Everyone is putting their best selves out there, including you. And also remember, as much as you desire someone else’s life and adventures, there is someone out there who desires to have your life and your adventures. Because you are awesome!

Related: 31 Incredibly Useful Tips Every Anxious Traveler Needs To Know

To be honest with you, travel has brought me a sense of freedom. Do I still suffer from anxiety? Absolutely. But, I think travel has been the one thing that helped me conquer my fears more than anything else. Travel is terrifying, but it also challenges you out of your comfort zone more than anything else and once outside your comfort zone you realize you can do whatever you want whenever you want.


Happy Travels! What’s something that has helped you manage your travel anxiety?