Road Trip Adventures & The City That Fuels My Creativity

You know that one place that you can’t get out of your head, the place where you feel so free, the place where you can be whatever you want to be. For me that place is New Orleans or NOLA as I have made it my second home in my head. Now being from Florida, some might asks, how can you not love the sunshine state where it’s sunny 90% of the year, all of the beaches and amusement park fun and the laid back palm tree lifestyle. Well don’t get me wrong, I love Florida, but what I found through my travels has made it so much clearer. Florida is home, but New Orleans is my freedom, it’s my creativity shaken and spilled out in the French Quarter, like heaping amounts of powder sugar over beignets. Traveling on a 10 hour road trip a year ago, gave me energy I never knew I had.


My inspiration for a while was bottled up in what college ingrained in me as a business student. Yea I know, how does a biz student, become a creative. Well let me tell you…sometimes what you leave bottled up eventually comes out and for me now I get the luxury of playing business and being able to create things all in one. Can anyone say “Jackpot”! But the constant fuel for my inspiration is traveling and seeing new things, connecting with new people and hopefully giving back something positive at each stop on the journey.

Road-trips have become a thing of necessity and if I don’t have one for a while, the anxiety starts to set in. For creatives, traveling is where you compile the whole story, invent your next product or my favorite — it’s where you potentially meet that awesome creative partner to collaborate with. Creating is all about the combined experiences that shape your personality. All of this travel talk from the person who hates to fly. But honestly, getting out and exploring has pushed me to a new level, forced me to take more risks and ultimately gives my fellow creatives inspiration to do the same.


As a creative person with a team of other creative people, New Orleans makes life easy; from the inspiring musicians introducing not just jazz, but all genres of music to us, the creative colleges and universities delivering awesome young creatives to the city each year, the growing acting climate and the extreme support for creative entrepreneurs (my favorite thing). Coming from a smaller town, the first time I touched down in New Orleans, it was definitely sensory overload. Cable cars moving up and down the streets, ridiculous amounts of cars tucked into the most narrow streets and the most interesting sites you can imagine (definitely not all PG rated).

The thrill of the unknown is what I think intrigued me the most. But from there we got a chance to visit a city that is a foodies paradise, meet a ton of creative based people and shops and craft experiences that helped us launch a retail brand to support creatives. How could a creative deny this place? I will be the first to say, there are other cities I adore as well like Austin, New York, Orlando, Atlanta and of course LA. But New Orleans just brings all of those together in a crazy cluster of locals and travelers alike, plus did I mention it can actually be affordable. Consistently hitting the top charts for the best cities for making a living as a creative, this city is a must visit for those in creative industries.


Finding a place that puts you in the zone, wires you for success and keeps you energized is a must for creatives. However, before you say it, I know that one thing that always gets in the way of travel. TIME. We get so busy, between work, projects, family and all of the responsibilities that make us human, that sometimes that last thing we consider is our other half and I’m not talking about your significant other, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. I’m talking about the half that loves adventure, getting out of the monotony, breaking some rules and consists of the little kid that never put boundaries on possibilities. Hey, we’ve all been there and some of us battle that year round. To combat that crazy human side, I recommend putting together the list of places domestic and abroad you desire to explore and attack one each quarter with a plan to spark your creative juices. In an article on I recently read about traveling and why we do it; the author Jonah Leher tells how when we travel our minds can recall ideas that we pushed aside because we were to busy.

“When we escape from the place we spend most of our time, the mind is suddenly made aware of all those errant ideas we’d suppressed. We start thinking about obscure possibilities — corn can fuel cars — that never would have occurred to us if we’d stayed back on the farm.”

Now I am not sure if I can recall all of the thousands of ideas that go through my head, but if I can recall even a few, that means I can bring a new design concept to our team, I can capture some awesome product shots, draft my next blog or just hit up that one place I saw on Yelp before I hit the road. So, when you take those trips (that of course you are going to plan now) make sure you are equipped with your camera, your socials (because of course you have to share with everyone) and most importantly an opened mind.


So now you know the place that makes me happy to create, inspires me to keep thinking of ways to support creatives and allows me to be me. But we know tomorrow comes and it’s back to the hustle and bustle of life. So I challenge you to never let the job, projects or excuses be the cause of you not visiting your favorite place, or still wandering the globe in search of the places you may one day call home

Thanks for spending a few minutes reading up. I am TJ Neal co-founder of HL Threads and huge fan of helping fellow creatives learn from my experiences, launch that project they’ve been holding back on and creating business strategies. Always happy to connect, so shoot me an email or hit that follow button on Instagram and let’s grow together.

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