Whew. Another month, and another massive trip to tell you about! 2019 sure has been travel-filled so far – and I'm not complaining!
August took me back to one of my favorite cities with my sister, and then on to 2 new countries on a continent that seems to keep drawing me back. This was a month filled with memorable experiences, and it was great to share so many of them with my sister!
Here's what August looked like:
August: The month in travel
- Countries visited: 3 – United Kingdom, Kenya, Tanzania
- Cities visited: 4 – London, UK; Nairobi, Kenya; Arusha, Moshi, and Stone Town, Tanzania
- African parks visited: 3 – Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater
- Flights taken: 4
- Days spent on the road: 23
The most epic thing I did: This is really tough to narrow down. It has to either be going on a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara in Kenya, or camping under the Milky Way and falling asleep to the sounds of hyenas in the Serengeti in Tanzania.
The weirdest thing I ate: I didn't go quite as crazy with game meat on this trip to Africa as on my last one, but I did try a wildebeest burger at our eco camp in Nairobi.
The best thing I drank: Before heading off to Africa, Elliot and I spent a weekend traveling the Cheers Trail in northern Ohio. We visited several local breweries and wineries, and my favorite was probably the really sweet wines from Rocky Point Winery in Marblehead.
August travel highlights
Brace yourself… there are a lot this month!
Introducing my sister to London – London is one of my favorite cities in the world, and it was fun to show my sister around for 3 days. We did some touristy things like visiting the Tower of London, walking down the South Bank, going on a Jack the Ripper tour in the East End, and hiding from some rain at the Natural History Museum. We also toured the state rooms and Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, which was really cool!
A science-themed afternoon tea – Another thing we did in London was go to a science-themed afternoon tea at the Ampersand hotel. This ended up being one of my favorite themed teas in London! There were drinks to mix, treats that smoked, dinosaur “fossils” to uncover, and more. Plus, all the food was really tasty!
Kissing giraffes in Nairobi – We visited both the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Center in Nairobi, two spots that are dedicated to wildlife conservation (the elephant orphanage rescues orphaned baby elephants, raises them, and then releases them back into the wild, while the Giraffe Center is breeding the endangered Rothschild giraffe in order to reintroduce it to the wild). At the Giraffe Center, you can hand-feed the giraffes grass pellets, and maybe even get a kiss if the giraffes feel like it.
Nai Nami tour in Nairobi – Both my sister and I really loved the tour of Nairobi we did with Nai Nami. This tour company is run by former street kids, and they take you around parts of Nairobi that tourists don't usually get to see (the parts that tourists are usually told to avoid). The guys are super open about their life stories, and it's impossible to do one of these walking tours and not be moved by these young men.
Hot air ballooning over the Maasai Mara – Going on safari in the Maasai Mara was awesome, but doing a sunrise hot air balloon ride was even more memorable. We rose into the sky along with the sun, and watched the Mara awake from above. After we landed, we had a champagne breakfast in the park and saw more wildlife on the drive out.
Safari in the Ngorongoro Crater – We did safaris in 3 different national parks/conservation areas in Kenya and Tanzania, but I think my favorite was the Ngorongoro Crater. It was just a beautiful location, and along with seeing lots of lions, we had one of my favorite wildlife encounters ever. A huge bull elephant walked right up to our safari vehicle, close enough that we could have touched him. He was SO beautiful, and I was literally moved to tears.
A day in the foothills of Kilimanjaro – I have no desire to climb Kilimanjaro, but we did spend a day in the mountain's foothills, hiking to a waterfall and learning to make coffee in a village with the local Chagga people. It was one of those travel experiences that felt unique and slightly off-the-beaten-path, and I really enjoyed it.
A snorkeling tour in Zanzibar – Our East Africa tour ended with 4 relaxing days in Zanzibar. My favorite activity was the full-day tour we did around the coast on a traditional dhow, which included snorkeling, a stop on a sandbar, and lunch on an island.
August travel lowlights
Long, uncomfortable travel days – It wouldn't really be travel in Africa if it wasn't a little bit challenging at times. My sister and I did a guided tour (this one, in case you're interested), so we didn't have to stress about many details ourselves. But we did still have some very long travel days in cramped vans on bumpy African roads, and everything I took with me was covered in a fine layer of dust by the time we left. Not a huge lowlight since the trip overall was great, but I definitely need some yoga stretching now that I'm back home!
August on the blog
My poor blog(s). This summer has been very busy with travel, which has meant I haven't had the time to write as much as I would have liked. I'm still trying to get caught up on all the content from my June/July travels – but having too much content is a problem I'm happy to have!
I still managed to publish new content in August, and hope I'll have time to write even more in September!
August traffic: 195,822 unique users, 277,757 pageviews
Most popular post: 8 of the Best Things to Do in Calgary in Summer – I had fun exploring Calgary back in July, and also had fun writing this post. I really liked Calgary a lot, and hopefully this post will make you want to visit, too!
Other posts published in August:
- How to Decide if an Active River Cruise is Right for You
- A Guide to the Cheers Trail in Northern Ohio
August on social media
My Instagram reach reached an all-time low in August, and I just stopped caring, guys. Things seemed to pick up a little once I started posting some shots from Africa (have you seen them yet?), but I'm really over this platform!
Most popular Instagram post: This shot of Bow Fiddle Rock in Scotland was the only real “hit” this month. In second place was this photo of an elephant encounter, and this one of a hot air balloon at sunrise.
View this post on Instagram
When you’re flipping through a tourism brochure at the B&B you’re staying at and you suddenly see a rock formation near the coast like this… well obviously you have to find time to go! This is Bow Fiddle Rock, found in the small town of Portnockie on the Moray Coast of Scotland, near the Speyside whisky region. Elliot and I headed up here one evening after a day of distillery tours. We went just before dinner time, and had this gorgeous spot almost entirely to ourselves. Visiting spots like this that are incredible but not swamped with people gives me hope that we CAN combat overtourism simply by letting people know that the world is big and we don’t all have to keep going to the same places. I’ve been saying yes to lots of trips lately that have had me visiting places that aren’t tourism darlings already, and I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about some new corners of the world. What kind of places would you like to see me cover next?
Most popular Facebook post: You guys liked seeing my highlights from 3 days in London, as well as this story about my favorite safari experience.
August business update
August was another good month income-wise – which is good, since September and October usually take a bit of a nosedive as kids go back to school and people are planning less travel.
- Advertising: $6,617.73
- Affiliate marketing: $6,217.98
- Other: $341.94
(Note that this is my income before deductions and taxes.)
I was on a Facebook Live! – I did a Facebook Live about affiliate marketing with Mediavine, the company that runs the ads on my website. Mediavine is a pretty huge company, and I was flattered to be invited to take part in their Summer of Live! You can watch the video recording here.
Wifi woes – Nothing huge, but I'm running a bit behind on some content projects thanks to the 2.5 weeks I spent without reliable wifi in East Africa. Thankfully, I predicted that I wasn't going to be getting much work done, and gave people a heads-up and put an away message up on my Gmail. I hit a few stressful days when I needed to send out some invoices and couldn't find a good wifi connection, but everything worked out in the end.
Upcoming in September/October
I'm taking a brief break for the next few weeks, locking myself inside my house in order to get some work done before I head off again!
My next stint of travel is going to last almost 6 weeks. Here's a preview:
September: Social Travel Summit – I'm heading to Ravenna, Italy, for the Social Travel Summit towards the end of the month, where I'll be speaking about affiliate marketing.
September: Bologna, Italy – I'm FINALLY going to visit Bologna after STS (am I like the last travel blogger to go there?). I'll be visiting some friends who live there, and may take a day trip or two to nearby cities, as well.
October: Monograms trip – I'll be heading back to London for a few days around my birthday, where I'll be starting a campaign with Monograms, a company that helps plan vacation packages for people. I'll spend a few days in London (I'm going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour again!), and then will be off to Venice and Rome for the rest of my trip.
October: Turkey with Dad – After Italy, I'll be hopping over to Istanbul, where I'll be meeting up with my dad. We're signed up for a 2-week tour around Turkey with Intrepid Travel, and I'm looking forward to introducing my dad to my favorite tour company AND finally seeing more of Turkey!
And remember that you can follow along in real-time with all of my adventures through my IG Stories on Instagram!
That dress is from Amazon! I loved the pattern, and it ended up being great for Africa! You can find it here: https://amzn.to/2A5pWTu