Hey friends! I’m back with another monthly recap. If you’re catching up, Dan and I are still on our longterm travel adventure, and still in South America. After two months in Peru in July and August (a country I have… mixed feelings about), September finally took us into Ecuador and Colombia. Honestly, it was a GREAT month and brought my travel mojo back!
As a side note, because I’m feeling grateful: I love writing these monthly recap blog posts. They really bring me back to my blogging roots. I love connecting with all of you (my IRL family/friends and online friends) in the comments and emails. It also really helps me reflect and soak up this once-in-a-lifetime adventure by writing about it. I hope you enjoy these posts, too!
Where was I in September?
- Countries: Peru, Ecuador, Colombia
- Cities: Huaraz, Trujillo, and Mancora, Peru; Olon, Guayaquil, Banos de Agua Santa, Quito, and Mindo, Ecuador; Ipiales and Popayan, Colombia
- Flights: 0
- Days on the road: All of them!
September on the blog…
Okay, I actually only wrote a few blog posts in September (our travels were quite full-on, plus I had a lot of behind-the-scenes blogging and freelance work to occupy me). But I just churned out three posts about our September border crossings this week, so I’m sharing them below too 🙂
Here’s what’s new on the blog:
- 27 Fantastic Things to Do in Arequipa, Peru
- 41 Photos of the Epic Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
- Peru to Ecuador Border Crossing: Complete Guide
- Ecuador to Colombia Border Crossing: Complete Guide
- How to Get From Salento to Jardin in Colombia
- August 2022 Monthly Recap
I’ve set a lofty goal to write eight blog posts in October. I have sooooo much to write about our adventures and I want to do it before I forget all the details (lately I’ve started writing lots of notes-to-self). Stay tuned!!
September adventured like…
One final (very memorable) hike in Huaraz, Peru. On September 1, Dan and I did the super remote Laguna 513 hike. It was touch and go whether we’d actually do it because Dan was sick the few days prior, but he rallied and we had an EPIC day. Sure, there were tons of biting horse flies, calf-deep bogs, and a grueling 3,000 feet ascent at altitude. But we also saw the MOST beautiful glacial blue lake TRULY out in the wilderness, and we did the whole thing alongside a Peruvian family we met on the trail. We kind of adopted each other and hiked together all day (the five of us were the only people that hiked this trail the entire day). Their awesome 5-year-old was holding my hand on and off all day. It was one of my fave days in Peru! Stay tuned for a blog post all about this adventure.
A final few days in Peru before crossing the border to Ecuador. Our final two overnight buses in Peru took us to Trujillo and Mancora (expect blog posts in the future!). From Mancora, we caught a bus across the border to Ecuador. This was our first land border crossing in South America, and I wrote all about it here.
Spanish, surf, and blue footed boobies on the Ecuador coast. Our first stop in Ecuador was Olon, a sleepy beach town north of the party-central Montanita. We signed up for Spanish and Surf lessons and got excited. But…. then we arrived and it was gray, rainy, and muddy. Our hotel room was much smaller (and wetter) than expected – and it was our most expensive accommodation of the whole trip. One of our Spanish teachers also… left something to be desired. At least the food was good – I found gluten free bagels, gluten free pasta, and incredible Indian food here. Ultimately, we decided to cut our losses and left three days early. Not before we did a day trip to Islas de Plata (Poor Man’s Galapagos) and saw leaping whales and BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES! I think I would’ve loved Olon in a different season, tbh.
Next, we got our travel mojo back in Banos. From Olon, we bused it over to Banos – an adventure and thermal spa town in Ecuador. We actually had low expectations for Banos. I’d just heard soooo much hype about Banos that I thought it would be overwhelmingly touristy (like Cusco in Peru). Instead, I absolutely fell in love with Banos. We visited like five or six spas (for pennies!), ate incredible food and actually decent coffee (and a hot chocolate with cheese in it… if you saw my Instagram stories), saw some epic waterfalls, and got massages. Maybe low expectations are the secret to always being happy?
We headed back to altitude and spent a few days in Quito. After Banos, we spent about four days in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Honestly… I wanted to love Quito but I just felt very on edge the whole time. It is not a very safe city and while nothing overt happened to us, there were lots of little things and it was always in the back of our minds. Police regularly approached us with warnings, and we had to be inside at 5pm to cook dinner because it was unsafe to go outside at night. Nevertheless, we did some cool things in Quito (hot chocolate, churches, city views, a volcano hike). A highlight for me was definitely a 100% gluten free Ecuadorian cooking class (stay tuned for the gluten free Ecuador blog post!).
Then, we chased waterfalls (and chocolate) in Mindo. Dan and I both loved Mindo, a small town in the cloud forest north of Quito. This town is all about chocolate and waterfalls, which is A-Okay with me. Weirdly, the main chocolate company here is owned by people from Michigan! They have a sister location in Ann Arbor, and their menu featured a breakfast hash described as “a specialty of Ann Arbor, Michigan” lol. We also found a gem of a restaurant here – a quinoa based restaurant with a super wonderful family that runs it, tons of gluten free options, and the first and only gluten free soy sauce I’ve seen in South America!
From Mindo, we crossed the border to Colombia. PHEW. This was a whoooole day, let me tell you. Dan and I went back and forth a lot about crossing this border by land versus flying. There were riots on the Colombian side for a few weeks before our crossing, and there were also threats of renewed riots in Ecuador (they had a lot of riots in June which stopped, but the government hadn’t met their demands so when we were there, the riots were imminently going to restart). In short, it was a little bit stressful but we made it! You can read all about our Ecuador to Colombia border crossing here.
I fell totally in love with Salento in Colombia’s coffee region. I’ll to skip over our two days transiting southwest Colombia because honestly that is a WHOLE other story that I’m not yet ready to tell. Instead, let’s jump to Salento, a super colorful town in Colombia’s coffee region. I just loved Salento and I honestly feel, even more than Banos, that my time here was really a turning point in terms of falling in love with longterm travel. First of all, we had a really comfortable hostel and even randomly ran into a wonderful Irish couple that we’d met back in Banos. The town itself was so cute, the Colombian people are SO nice and friendly, we did two epic hikes to viewpoints I’d been dreaming of (okay, this is one example of high expectations working out), we toured three coffee farms, and we even spent a night playing a quite-Colombian game of Tejo (where you throw heavy disks at a clay pit with paper filled with gunpowder, while drinking, and essentially whoever gets the most explosions wins).
Travel planning for the next few months. I’m really excited because my parents booked a flight to Costa Rica, and we are going to spend Thanksgiving week with them there!! Knowing we have a deadline to be in Costa Rica has given a bit more structure to our travel plans – and it’s also pushing us forward (I’m discovering I definitely prefer a slower travel pace).
The (gluten free) food was good. AT LAST! I really struggled finding safe gluten free food in Peru. And I knew it was affecting my experience traveling, but I don’t think I knew quite how much it was affecting me until we got to Ecuador – where there still weren’t a lot of gluten free options, but at least there were some. Things have improved even more in Colombia, mostly thanks to the quality of the grocery stores. Yeah, I still can’t eat out at most restaurants but I can at least go to the store and buy stuff to make at our hostel or Airbnb. Things are looking up!
September travel budget breakdown…
If you’ve been following along, then you know that Dan and I set ourselves a budget of $1,500/month/person for this round-the-world trip. That’s about $50/day.
Well, Dan ran the September numbers and guess what?! We were both under budget (again!). And… guess what’s even more exciting? Dan actually spent more than me (by $4)! Muahahaha.
Here’s a breakdown of my September travel expenses:
- Accommodation: $347.63
- Travel: $179.61
- Activities: $328.99
- Food: $444.11
- Miscellaneous: $24.73
I don’t think either of us were expecting to be under budget in September. However, I think we achieved it by staying in a dorm room in Quito, and having a few cheap travel days (our accommodation the first few days in Colombia was only $12 for a private hotel room….).
Also, not sure if you clocked it above, but we skipped a MAJOR activity in Ecuador: The Galapagos! The truth is, neither of us were desperately dreaming of this, and therefore we couldn’t justify the huge expense it would take to do it right. However, now having fallen in love with Ecuador, I would absolutely love to return to Ecuador in the future and properly experience the Galapagos.
September blogging income report and update…
Unfortunately, the blog’s sessions and pageviews were both down in September. However, that’s to be expected as travel season winds down (and as inflation spikes and less and less people plan trips…).
My main freelance writing gig also slashed their budget for the remainder of the year so I’m now only writing two articles a month instead of four (50% paycheck drop, who?).
Such is self-employment life! The good news is that September was still one of my highest ad income months ever (however that won’t be paid out until November). And with less freelance writing for the rest of the year, I have more time to devote to the blog.
- Sessions: 69,480
- Pageviews: 83,000
September 2022 blogging income
Earlier this year, I promised to share my blogging income as I work on building it up. In doing so, I’ve received lots of messages from you all that it’s inspiring you – which was exactly my goal!
I don’t think monetization is right for everyone (and I’ll always remain true to myself by writing posts like these – which don’t make any money at all, lol), but it is truly life changing to make money from something you love and that you’d do for free anyway! So, as promised, here’s my September income.
Here’s how my income broke down in September:
- Advertising: $1,618.74
- Freelance Writing: $2,500
- Affiliates: $175.19
Note: This is my gross income, before expenses and taxes.
Upcoming in October…
October is my birthday month (woohoo! I know, I know, I’m a scorpio and everyone has an opinion haha). It’s really weird to be in a tropical country right now and be missing out on all the pumpkins, apple orchards, cider donuts, fall colors, etc. I LOVE the fall season in Michigan but honestly, it’s hard to miss it because I keep forgetting that it’s actually fall lol.
Sooo, no big birthday or Halloween plans yet. We are in Medellin for the week, and our plans for the rest of the month include making our way across Colombia (and hopefully writing those eight blog posts I promised).
What are you all up to this October? Let me know in the comments. Please tell me something very autumnal so I can live vicariously through you!