Welcome, y’all! I’m Angie Orth, a Southern lady with a perpetually packed suitcase, the Jane Austen canon on my Kindle and an instinctive need to tell stories about my adventures – be they 3,000 miles away on a pristine mountaintop or in my garage where I’m experimenting, to varying degrees of success, with DIY projects I find on Pinterest.
So how did the girl next door become a world-traveling lifestyle blogger?
Let’s go back to the very beginning – back to where this life of home and away juxtaposition all started. It was a stormy Friday the 13th when I dropped in on my bewildered young parents, who gave me both a proper name and a nickname at birth. My nickname Angie came from the popular Rolling Stones tune, and Angelene, what my Mom calls me when I’m being sassy, comes from the Jacksonville-born Allman Brothers. I like to think my names, one homegrown and bluesy and one from a cheeky group of British rockers, have a lot to do with how my peculiar life story has turned out so far.
Growing up in Jacksonville was a hodge-podge of experiences. I briefly attended a private prep school with the children of city elite followed by a rural public school where students wore camouflage and drove trucks with oversized tires. As a kid, I was in church every time the doors were open. Often in the same day, you could find me in bars and concert venues watching my Dad jam with various bands.
I was a competitive junior dog handler for almost a decade, I participated in scholarship pageants, Future Business Leaders of America competitions, swim team and cheerleading. I found loopholes to wriggle out of P.E. and health class in order to take more foreign languages. After seeing the news coverage after Princess Diana’s death, I convinced my history teacher to lead a school trip to London. My heart exploded with the euphoria of my first real international adventure. I realized there is so much more to life than what I could find at home and I vowed to do whatever necessary to make travel a part of my life.
I began my education at the Harvard of the South, the University of Florida. Freshman year, I decided that the International Relations career I was hoping to have in D.C. was not a lifestyle I could sustain without having a heart attack at a young age. I pursued a public relations degree in the hope of a less stressful work life. (The joke was on me – public relations is the 6th most stressful job in the U.S.)
I wrangled with my parents about studying abroad in a post-9/11 world. Ultimately, I went to Paris for one magical summer. I lived with a family on Rue Daguerre, studied French and photography (with actual film!), and realized I could make it on my own in a big city. There was no turning back now.
After graduation, my PR agency career began in Atlanta. Finding my footing was a struggle, as I combatted workaholism and an acquired dependence on Diet Coke and Chick-Fil-A. I worked on way too many boring projects, and I learned that doing a stellar job and putting in 80 hours per week doesn’t always equal respect. I grew disillusioned.
I participated in my first-ever mission trip with my church to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I fell in love with a family there and began to sponsor their youngest daughter through Compassion International.
On a whim, I auditioned for Season 6 of The Apprentice. After many rounds of interviews, the producers flew me to L.A. where I was sequestered with 49 other finalists for top-secret meetings, medical tests, mental health screenings and a surprise interview with Donald Trump. In the end, my Southern manners prevented me from winning the role of “Mean Blonde.” Whew!
Miserable in my Atlanta PR agency job, I plotted a move to New York City. A couple of months before I was set to move, I was in a pinball-like car accident, where I lost consciousness, got a wicked concussion and totaled my cute little red car. Though painful, the timing couldn’t have been better. I used the insurance money to ship my clothes to Manhattan and wrote the first of many enormous rent checks.
On Day 1 in NYC, I started my first blog, Big Apple Angie, where I recounted the wacky escapades of early twenty-something life in Hell’s Kitchen. I shared an apartment with three other Gator grads and we painted the town and live the dream. I landed the perfect job in the Travel + Lifestyle practice at Weber Shandwick, the world’s largest PR agency. I adored my colleagues, my clients and even my cubicle. Life was lovely.
My job was amazing. My largest client, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, afforded me many opportunities to travel and connect with the islands and their people – and I got to swim with sharks, pigs and stingrays on a semi-regular basis.
A new opportunity arose in the form of Queensland, Australia’s “Best Job in the World” competition. I bought my first MacBook, shot and edited a 60-second video and submitted it along with 34,000 other hopefuls. I was selected as one of 50 finalists, and I spent months promoting myself, traveling to trade shows and learning everything about Hamilton Island and the Great Barrier Reef. Though I was not chosen for the next cut, I connected with other finalists around the world and started working out how to make my way to Australia.
I experienced a career highlight when my agency helped launch the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. I hid tears of nerd joy when I received my schedule with my name in Wizard font. I didn’t sleep for a whole week, my feet nearly fell off and I regretted that Daniel Radcliffe has only seen me at my 4 a.m., frizzy-haired worst, but it was the most magical project of my life.
I experienced the worst day of my career, when a journalist I invited on a press trip to The Bahamas died on the second day of our journey. I had nightmares for months and questioned if all the sacrifice that goes into a PR career is worth it. I started to realize that perhaps my job didn’t love me as much as I loved it.
Reaching such extreme highs and lows shook me to the core. In a moment of clarity, I realized that if I wanted to travel and write, maybe I’d better get to it before my time is up. Through tears, I resigned at Weber Shandwick, turned in the keys to Apt. 1E and embarked on what’s meant to be a yearlong journey around the world. Big Apple Angie went on hiatus and Angie Away was born.
Thanks to my savings account, I visited Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Greece, Spain, the U.K., Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, the U.K again, France and the Netherlands, blogging all along the way. AngieAway.com grew so quickly that I considered continuing past the one-year mark…
I took a few social media consulting gigs in Jordan and Germany and made my way around Europe and the Middle East for several more months. I spent a month in Kauai and rounded out the year in Morocco.
Home in Florida to celebrate Christmas in between adventures, I met my brother’s smoking hot roommate at a Master Radical concert. Rick and I were gaga for each other almost immediately.
Much to my surprise, perpetual travel wore me out, so I signed a lease on an apartment in Jacksonville until I decided what to do next. I freelanced – writing, PR consulting, social media management, public speaking – while continuing to travel and blog.
Though I still couldn’t commit to a hair color, I committed to Rick. He proposed on the coldest day of the year on Fernandina Beach. Destination wedding planning began in earnest, in the midst of traveling to Bonaire, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Canada, Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta, Virginia, New York and Tennessee, and launching the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s second iteration, Diagon Alley.
The wedding week was a huge debacle, but against all odds and despite the incompetence of our venue, we ended up happily married and the story, now ours, continues…
After hopping from Florida to Atlanta to New York City to a RTW adventure, I’ve done the wildest, craziest, most outlandish thing yet and bought a house in my hometown – just around the corner from where I grew up, as a matter of fact.
So when I’m not jaunting around the globe in search of stories, you’ll find me tucked into my home office in The Bold New City of the South, getting reacquainted with the biggest small town in the country and wrestling with competing desires and ideals – my love of home, husband and hearth, and my insatiable longing for the history, languages and new tastes that only hopping on a flight can provide.
I’m learning how to make my roots and wings work together. It’s a tightrope act I haven’t quite mastered, but you’ll find me here doing my best on the pages of Angie Away.
You can have roots and wings.”
I have a strong snarky side that I’m constantly trying to tamp down in favor of grace, mercy, kindness, gentleness, patience – you know, all the challenging stuff that isn’t really valued in our society.
This is not a faith blog, but you should know that God is not the top priority on my list; rather, He’s the paper I write the list on. Everything I do and say comes from a place of faith and belief. Bear with me, though. I’m a work in progress and don’t claim perfection!
I’m an extroverted introvert, and that’s part of the reason I consider myself a better blogger than an in-person person.
I speak semi-bueno Spanish and un peu de French.
I love, in no particular order, karaoke, Jeopardy, sharks and Jane Austen. I’m rather less fond of social media squabbles, politics and olives.
My brother and sister frequently appear here, and in fact, along with my husband, they’re all frequent contributors and travel companions – you’ll see them often!