If you knew an area had conservative religious and political views, would you refrain from traveling there? 

Do an area’s popular religious and political views ever deter you from vacationing there?

A Recent Road Trip

I recently spent a few days in Tennessee visiting family. In true Midwest fashion if you can drive somewhere in under twelve hours there’s just no need to fly, so my husband and I made the eight-hour drive from Northwest Ohio to Eastern Tennessee. Our daughter did surprisingly well on the road trip. In fact, most of the time she was pretty quiet watching videos in her car seat.

My relatives moved to Tennessee just a few months ago; this was the first time I had visited the area. I knew Tennessee was more conservative but I didn’t think it would be as visible — my relatives live in a very busy tourist area in the Great Smoky Mountains. 

I was wrong!

Christianity and conservative viewpoints were definitely on display but I think it just added to our entertainment. My favorite was the huge cross on the mountainside right above the gigantic “Adult World” store. 

There were several year-round Christmas stores along the main drag. Gross.

I shit you not, there were also two Trump Stores. We don’t have that in Toledo! I did not have the guts to go in.

Car Trouble

Just after lunch, on our first full day in Tennessee, our car’s brakes started making some horrible noises. Surprisingly, we found a shop that was able to fix our car in a couple of hours and it didn’t cost as much as it could have. We thought the mechanics might take advantage of us since we were from out of town. 

We have several atheist and humanist stickers on the back of our car and I thought about that as we handed the mechanic our keys. We’re a long way from home and at the mercy of the mechanic – could my stickers be a reason they screw us?

Luckily, the mechanics were great. Our car is fine and we could still afford the rest of our vacation.

Choosing Your Vacation

Obviously, I didn’t choose to vacation in Tennessee; that’s just where my relatives live. Despite the local conservative views, it’s a very beautiful area and I’m glad I got to see it.

If you knew an area had conservative religious and political views, would you think twice about traveling there? 


  1. Katydid says

    You went because of family.

    I tend to avoid the Jebus-flavored areas, and I don’t have family there, so it’s not an obligation to go.

    A few years back, my company kept sending me to Amsterdam to work on a contract they had. In my time off, one day I visited the AnneFrankHuis, where Anne Frank lived hidden. It was quite a heartbreaking thing–many people were crying.

    The next day I had to leave, and as I was killing time at the airport waiting, a woman with an American southern accent approached me and asked if I had been at the AnneFrankHuis the day before (I had worn and was wearing a company-logo’d jacket). When I said yes, she told me next time I’d have to go to (some place) “Because it’s CHRISTIAN and so much better!”

  2. anat says

    I live in western Washington, and it is nice and Blue where I live my daily life, but just going out into the local rural areas one runs into conservative messaging all over the place, including one small town that is home to a neo-Nazi cell and where confederate flags can be seen. One needs to find one’s comfort level and avoid the worst stuff. Fortunately camp grounds and trails have so far been politics-free.

  3. Some Old Programmer says

    Definitely, although for us it’s partially a sense of self-protection.

    I still remember the pre-marriage equality case of a lesbian dying in a Florida hospital whose partner and children were denied access, despite her being able to provide power of attorney, and being told it was because they were in an “antigay city and state”. They were in Miami to embark on a cruise, and were egregiously mistreated by the hospital because of the political cover given by the state. I will strenuously resist visiting a locale that indulges in such bigotry. Even changing planes in such a locale gives me pause.

  4. Allison says

    For me, I don’t care so much about how “Christian” it is. They can pray over me all they want, I don’t care. If they tell me I’m going to Hell, I’ll just say, no thanks, I grew up there. My high school had a Confederate battle flag as its symbol, and for all that I got called “queer,” nobody actually did anything to me.

    What I care about is whether I will be safe. I am trans and I think (some) people can tell. A lot of states are enacting explicitly transphobic laws, not to mention people with power threatening to kill trans people, and I would not feel safe being anywhere within one of those states, or maybe even near one. Maybe I would be safe using a public rest room even if I were “clocked,” but I’d rather not find out. Actually, any explicit anti-LGBT public policies would be enough to make me avoid them.

    At one point my family of origin was considering holding our family reunion in someone’s beach house in North Carolina, and I told them that if they did, I would not come. I grew up in Virginia, and since they elected a Trumpkin for governor, I’m a little leery of going there, too.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    Yes. Apart from anything else, the list of places that aren’t shitholes is long and lovely and one could spend a lifetime visiting wonderful locations with no such danger. Make the choice.

  6. John Morales says

    Once, I went on holiday overseas and had a few days’ stay in Malaysia; I took care to look up Muslim sensibilities and avoid triggering them, as is polite (and prudent).

    But not here in Australia, where I live. Overt religion is not a thing.

    So, basically, no. Not an issue for me.

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