January 2023 | Recap

Hey friends, welcome to the January recap and the first monthly recap of a new year! I definitely started the year off with a bang in the travel-sense. Dan and I had a truly packed month of travel through three countries in Central America. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling the effects of it now, as I’m a bit burned out (more on that below, though).

Grab a coffee or tea, cozy up, and let’s get to it…

Where was I in January?

  • Countries: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala
  • Cities: Pearl Lagoon and Leon, Nicaragua; El Tunco and Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador; Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Guatemala City, Guatemala
  • Flights: 0
  • Days on the road: All of them 🙂
Loving life on the Pearl Cays in Nicaragua, on New Year’s Day!

January on the blog…

One of my resolutions this year is to be more consistent in blogging. I set myself a goal to write four blog posts last month (besides the monthly recap), and I actually met it – woohoo!!

Here’s what’s new on the blog:

January adventured like…

We started the month in Nicaragua. New Year’s Day was a memorable one, as we spent it on a tiny deserted island in the Pearl Cays. We were staying in a little hotel on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, and met a Canadian family with four kids while we were there. We teamed up with them to do a couple tours which not only brought the price down but was waaaay more fun and memorable. After those few days, we took a cramped chicken bus all the way over to Leon, Nicaragua, where unfortunately I promptly got “glutened” by a (very delicious) taco. It took me pretty much our entire time in Leon to recover, so I can’t say I enjoyed the city that much.

Dan and I on the Pearl Cays.
The tacos in Leon that did me dirty.

Then, we spent two incredible weeks in El Salvador. I’m sooo glad we didn’t skip El Salvador, like many backpackers do! I’m planning lots of El Salvador blog posts, so stay tuned, but I’d say this is the top destination I recommend for a 1-2 week vacation, for sure. There is SO much to do, and it’s all SO close together! My highlights were hiking the Santa Ana Volcano, camping and seeing sunrise on Conchagua Volcano, the food festival in Juayua, the entire Ruta de las Flores (thermal spa + bike zipline are up there!!), eating alllllll the naturally gluten free pupusas, and the cliff jumping tour we last-minute signed up for in El Impossible National Park.

Dan and I at sunrise on Conchagua Volcano in El Salvador!
Dan and I at the famous rainbow slide in the Ruta de las Flores in El Salvador!
Dan at a waterfall during our hidden waterfalls/cliff jumping tour in El Salvador.
Me cliff jumping!! Eeeeek!

One of my Instagram reels blew up and I got my Instagram mojo back. I randomly posted this Instagram reel about El Salvador, which for whatever reason the “algorithm” blessed to get 20k+ views and me a handful of Salvadorean Instagram followers (including their Minister of tourism). LOL. I hate to be that predictable, but people actually seeing what I create gave me a bit of a morale boost, and I created a few other reels this month that I’m proud of! I’m hoping that I can keep up the motivation in February, because it’s actually quite fun sharing what we’re up to in this format?! Who knew, social media can be enjoyable…

Dan and I at Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador!
Had some of the hugest oysters of my life in El Salvador!

Then we crossed into Guatemala, where we spent a week in Antigua. I really enjoyed the town of Antigua but was quite surprised at how touristy it is – mostly with American tourists on vacation. I was not expecting that type of traveler here, but it was kind of a welcome surprise because it meant I could also find gluten free pizza at a local restaurant, LOL.

Selfie in Antigua, Guatemala!
We took a 100% gluten free cooking class in Antigua and it was sooo fun! More info coming on that in February!

We completed the overnight Acatenango Volcano hike and it was truly the definition of “epic.” This activity was the top of both Dan and I’s bucket list throughout the entirety of this Latin America trip. I’ll say, the hike was super tough. I really wasn’t expecting it to be that tough. We also didn’t love our tour company. But undoubtedly the view of Fuego Volcano erupting once the sunset was truly astounding. Core memory for sure. (Oh, and we stumbled upon an engagement at the sunrise hike portion, and I got to take their engagement photos!!!)

Sunrise on Acatenango Volcano, overlooking the active Fuego Volcano. One of the truly most epic things I’ve ever done.
Fuego Volcano erupting!!! I can’t believe I saw this with my own eyes (photo taken with my camera – all other photos in this post are from my iphone as per usual).
Me at sunrise on Acatenango Volcano.

After that, we moved on to Lake Atitlan, but I… kinda hated it. We stayed in San Marcos, the “hippie” town on the lake. I thought, well, I love yoga and wellness so I’ll fit right in. NO. This town was full to the brim with the most awful, inauthentic, fake “hippie” culture I’ve literally ever seen. It was SO uncomfortable. Not to mention we had a terrible time with our accommodation (if you saw my Instagram stories about the kitchen debacle).

Before sunrise at the Indian Nose hike overlooking Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
Sleepy sunrise selfie! (Also happy because we were leaving San Marcos that day for a new town on the lake…)

Until an incredible SUP tour made me love it. We actually hated our time in San Marcos SO much that we left early, and used my credit card points to book a nice Airbnb in a totally different town. We signed up for a SUP tour of the lake there, but honestly I was dreading it a bit. I was exhausted and just feeling “done.” But we went on the tour and it was the most peaceful, beautiful, relaxing day. To me, that’s what wellness is really about! That one experience made me fall back in love with Lake Atitlan.

Dan on our SUP tour!
I may have jumped/fallen in a few times…
Us on our SUP tour on Lake Atitlan – with GuateSUP! More info coming on this tour in February.

Then, my stomach led us back to Guatemala City. We took a shuttle to Guatemala City, where we ended the month with yet another Airbnb debacle (this one left us stranded on the streets of Guatemala City for two hours). But the good news is we had some incredible gluten free food during our 48 hours here (including gluten free CROISSANTS and a 100% gluten free restaurant that does UberEats pizza?!?!). Shout out to Dan for following my food-focused whims around the world with me.

Gluten free pizza via UberEats? YES PLEASE. (From Wild Guatemala).
And… gluten free croissants (and so much more)? ALSO YES PLEASE. From Celieti in Guatemala City. The gluten free Guatemala guide is gonna be lit y’all.

I’ve been feeling burned out. As we enter month seven of full time travel, I have to admit I’m feeling the travel fatigue, hard. I’m really craving two weeks to just sit in the same apartment, cook my own meals, work on my laptop, watch Netflix, and not do any sightseeing or thinking about how to get from one place to another. Getting sick with both a cold and then some glutening in Nicaragua really didn’t help, either. The thing is, we don’t have much flexibility to change our travel plans at this point. We are traveling up to Mexico City in order to get a flight to our friend’s wedding. We’ve also booked the next month or so of travel already (partially because we thought getting it out of the way by pre-booking would help with the travel fatigue). I don’t really know the point of this ramble other than to say that yeah, I’m tired. Every long-term traveler feels like this once in a while, and I’m hoping it’ll pass.

Us during our hidden waterfalls/cliff jumping tour in El Salvador.

January travel budget breakdown…

As a reminder, Dan and I have a goal budget of $1500/month or roughly $50/day. I was under budget in JulyAugust, and September, but over budget in October (+$279), November (+$388), and December (+$237).

Man, I was really hopeful that we’d be under budget in January. In fact, I was expecting to be under budget in January! El Salvador was soooo cheap. I spent an average of $38/day there!! Unfortunately, if you didn’t guess it… we were once again over budget in January!

How did this happen?! Honestly, I’m not sure. I think it’s a combination of a couple expensive tours (the Acatenango Hike and Pearl Cays tours), as well as generally spending more on accommodation. I also bought a $20 gluten free pizza in Guatemala so, there’s also that LOL.

Here’s a breakdown of my January travel expenses:

  • Accommodation: $563.09
  • Travel: $399.22
  • Activities: $345.07
  • Food: $535.74
  • Miscellaneous: $66.06

Total: $1,646.92

January blogging income report and update…

Blog views are on the rise, folks! Both my sessions and pageviews were up compared to December. It felt good to see that traffic increase, for sure. I’ve told Dan and I’m going to be extra and order a cake that says “100k” when I break 100k sessions, LOL. Who wants to join those celebrations?

  • Sessions: 80,120
  • Pageviews: 94,236

January 2022 blogging income

Here’s how my income broke down in January:

  • Advertising: $1,418.28
  • Freelance Writing: $900
  • Affiliates: $255.58

Total: $2,573.86

Note: This is my gross income, before expenses and taxes.

Me on the bike zipline in El Salvador. January was certainly full of adrenaline…

Upcoming in February…

In February, we’ll be leaving Guatemala to spend a couple weeks in Honduras. I’ll be honest, I’m more skeptical about Honduras than other countries we’ve visited in Latin America because of its safety record, and the lack of travel content I could find about it. However, that’s also exactly the same reason that I’m quite excited for it…

After Honduras, we are actually returning to Guatemala! I know that sounds weird, but it made sense with the border crossing locations. We’ll be on the eastern side of Guatemala which is supposedly less touristy. I’m looking forward to seeing how it differs from where we are currently in Guatemala!

Beyond travel, my goal is to publish another 4-6 blog posts in February and keep up with the Instagram reels as well. I’m also hoping to work through my travel fatigue (or maybe just succumb to it?!).

Dan and I also have a bit of wedding planning to do, plus booking flights for some of those 2023 travel plans I mentioned last month!

How were your Januaries and what are you looking forward to this month?! I’d love to know!

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