January 2019 Travel and Blogging Recap

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People often say that how you start a year is an indication of how that year will go.

Well, I began 2019 eating cactus fries in Sedona, Arizona, and then watching the sun set over a snowy Grand Canyon. So, I mean, a pretty epic start to a new year. I'm not sure if there will be any more cactus fries in my future this year, but I DO expect lots of similarly awesome adventures.

Since that quick trip to the Southwest, I've been super busy working on not just one but TWO websites (more on this later), networking my butt off in New York City, and planning lots of travel for the rest of this year.

Here's what my January looked like:

January: The month in travel

I began the month in the Southwest, and took another quick trip to New York City. Otherwise, I spent most of the month at home, plotting all sorts of good things for 2019.

  • Countries visited: 1 – USA
  • States visited: 3 – Arizona, Nevada, New York
  • Cities visited: 4 – Sedona, Tusayan, Cleveland, New York City
  • Flights taken: 3

The most epic thing I did: Watching the sun set at the Grand Canyon. In the snow. This was my third visit to the Grand Canyon, but probably the most memorable – it's even more grand under a dusting of snow!

Mather Point sunset at the Grand Canyon in winter
A wintry sunset at Mather Point

The most interesting thing I ate: After having an offroad jeep tour canceled because of icy trails in Sedona, my friend Shawna and I decided to have lunch at the Cowboy Club Grille. We ordered a tasting plate that had cactus fries, bison skewers, and rattlesnake sausage. It was all delicious!

January travel highlights

Visiting the Grand Canyon in the snow – Yes, I know I'm mentioning this twice, but it was that amazing. The Grand Canyon isn't always snowy in the winter, so I felt like my friend and I were experiencing something really special. Expect some tips on visiting the Grand Canyon in winter soon!

Going to the first cat cafe in Cleveland – Watch out, world: Cleveland now has an adorable cat cafe! It's called AffoGATO, and it's one of the better cat cafes I've visited (and I've been to a few all around the world!) I love that the kitties here are all adoptable, and am already planning to go back later this month to try out cat yoga!

Chasing frozen waterfalls in Ohio – We finally got our first big snow of the season in January (8 inches all in one day!), so I made it my mission to go out and explore before it all melted. I went to a nearby park I hadn't visited before, and ended up having a mostly-frozen waterfall all to myself. 

Great Falls of Tinkers Creek in Bedford, Ohio
Great Falls of Tinkers Creek in Bedford, Ohio

January travel lowlights

Government shutdown effects – The government shutdown didn't affect my New Year's trip as much as it could have since the state of Arizona paid to keep the Grand Canyon mostly running, but it was still apparent in the shuttered visitor centers and lack of park rangers. Later in the month, I also ran into some flight delays because of air traffic control issues. It all made me mad – not because my travels were being affected, but because the shutdown negatively affected our national parks and forced federal employees to work without pay, and people at the highest level of government didn't care at all.

January on the blog

January is almost always a great month for travel bloggers. The holidays are over, and people are starting to get tired of cold weather – meaning they're finally thinking about travel again. This January was no exception, as it was a great month for traffic!

January traffic: 193,734 unique visitors, 281,203 pageviews

Most popular post: Visiting National Parks During a Government Shutdown: Can You? Should You? – After visiting the Grand Canyon during the government shutdown and then reading about how people were trashing other national parks, I decided to write this post. It was shared far and wide, so I'm really glad I took the time to put it together.

Other posts published in December:

January on social media

Most popular Instagram post: The Southwest is always popular on Instagram, but this post of the Fire Wave from Valley of Fire State Park was the most popular of the bunch.


View this post on Instagram


Going on road trips in the US is always a great reminder that this country is HUGE, and that there's always something new to explore. Even though I've been to the Southwest a few times now, I'm still discovering new and amazing spots on this trip. A couple days ago, my friend and I went to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. This park is about an hour north of Las Vegas, and could easily rival some of the nearby national parks. It's filled with red rock formations, petroglyphs, and several really easy hikes. We hiked out to a formation called the Fire Wave, which is a lot like the famous “Wave” in Arizona – except you don't have to enter a lottery to get a permit (or hike for miles) to get to the Fire Wave! The hike out to the Fire Wave is only about half a mile one-way, and takes you past some beautiful rock formations on a trail that doesn't require a lot of climbing. This was one of my favorite parts of Valley of Fire! Have you ever been to this park?

A post shared by Amanda Williams ? (@dangerousbiz) on

Most popular Facebook post: My share of this video made a lot of you laugh, and I was also tickled that you guys liked this post about that time I got a shoutout on Oprah's website.

January business update

As predicted, January was even better than December! My goal is to continue increasing my revenue in 2019 – we'll see how it goes!

Income report

  • Advertising: $5,904.48
  • Affiliate marketing: $3,748.35
  • Consulting: $682.50
  • Course sales: $388.04 (yes, I have courses!)
  • Other: $900

(Note that this is my income before deductions and taxes.)

Business highs

Launching a second site – I've been talking about it with friends and my husband for years, and I finally took the leap last month and started a niche blog! The blog is called Cleveland Traveler, and it's all about my adopted hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I'm looking forward to exploring the city more in-depth so that I can share the very best of it. You can find my Cleveland content on Facebook and Instagram, too.

Speaking at the New York Times Travel Show – Last weekend I was in New York City for a day of networking at International Media Marketplace, and then spoke on a panel at the New York Times Travel Show. The panel was about working with travel bloggers, and I was honored to be part of it along with some other kickass women.

New York Times Travel Show panel
Loved speaking with these ladies!

Starting up a consulting service – Since I've been getting emails about it more and more frequently, I've decided to start offering an affiliate marketing consulting service to other travel bloggers. I'm just working via referrals so far (no website yet, though it's in the works), but I already have a couple clients signed up! If you're interested in learning more, shoot me an email: [email protected]

Winning NATJA awards – Lastly, I won a couple awards from the North American Travel Journalists Association! Two Silver awards and one Honorable Mention for content published on my blog in the last year. I was especially happy to have my post on tips for how to travel more with limited vacation time recognized with a Silver award.

Business lows

Instagram hates me – Instagram and I have had our ups and downs, and apparently we're in a “down” period at the moment. My last few posts on that platform have gotten absolutely abysmal engagement – mostly because Instagram just won't show them to the people who are following me. This is SO frustrating. Not because I particularly care about Instagram any more, but because I know that a lot of destinations and travel brands that I'd like to work with this year DO care about those stupid numbers. If you want to help me out, head over to @dangerousbiz and like or comment on a photo.

Facebook hates the environment – I wrote a post this month in partnership with the Nature Conservancy about how we as travelers can lessen our environmental impact. When I tried to boost the post on Facebook (because, even though I have 34,000 fans over there, less than 1,500 of them usually see my posts unless I boost them), Facebook told me I couldn't because I'm not authorized to run ads to issues considered too “political.” I understand that climate change can be a touchy subject, but I HATE that we have politicized taking care of the planet – I still don't understand why that needs to be a partisan issue. Anyway, if you want to read the post, find it here because I still can't run an ad to it.

(And now /endrant on how I hate social media.)

Kitten at AffoGATO cat cafe in Cleveland
Here's a cute polydactyl kitten from the Cleveland cat cafe to cheer us all up

Upcoming in February

Here's a look at what's coming up in February (and beyond!):

February: Morocco – I've booked a 13-day tour around Morocco for the second half of February! I haven't been to Morocco yet, so I'm excited to get a taste of the country's unique culture. I booked my tour with Intrepid Travel (it's this one in case you want to check it out, too), as I think traveling solo with other people and a guide will help me get the most out of the country. We'll be covering a LOT of ground, from big cities like Fes and Marrakech to smaller places like Chefchaouen and Midelt. We'll be spending time in both the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert, too, which should make for some amazing adventures!

March: Portugal – After Morocco, I'll be heading to another new-to-me country: Portugal! I'm planning to spend about 10 days in Portugal, trying to see as much as I can by using trains and other public transport. I'm planning to base myself in Porto for half the time and Lisbon for the other half, and taking some day trips from each. If you have Portugal suggestions, please send them my way!

March: Nashville – Also in March I'm planning to head down to Nashville for a long weekend to catch up with some friends from college. I'm looking forward to a second visit to Music City!

And remember that you can follow along in real-time with all of my adventures through my IG Stories on Instagram!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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14 Comments on “January 2019 Travel and Blogging Recap

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  1. Sounds like a great start to the year! We have a cat cafe here in Indianapolis that is amazing – all the cats are also up for adoption and it’s a wonderful place to hang out on a cold, Midwestern day!

    Congrats on your new website! I love January, because even though I almost never travel I love to look forward to the upcoming year and plan trips 🙂

    Thanks for the head’s up cactus fries, bison skewers, and rattlesnake sausage are now officially on my “to eat” list!

      Well if you’re ever in Sedona, Arizona, you know where to find all those things!

    Portugal is an amazing country! You will most definitely enjoy it there! I have not been to Porto, so I have no tips for that area, but you could easily spend several weeks in Lisbon and the surrounding area without getting bored. Don’t miss Sintra or Belem! Lisbon itself is also extremely charming, with so much history, culture and amazing food (well, you get that all over Portugal).

      I’m looking forward to it! I’ll definitely be visiting both Sintra and Belem from Lisbon, and will be doing some day trips from Porto, as well. I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for so long, so I’m excited to finally be making it happen!

    Sounds like you’ve had a great start to the year (apart from your social media issues) – love that pic of the frozen waterfall. And the cute kitty pic too. I really want to go to a cat cafe and we have one here in Manchester so I have no excuse to have not been to one apart from I don’t trust myself to not want to bring all the cats home with me.

      Wanting to adopt all the cats at a cat cafe is a very real concern!!

    I hope January isn’t an indication of my year – we just moved to Edinburgh (best city ever) and we’ve been very much stumbling into life here with casual work and no idea what we’re doing! We couldn’t get a place in time so we are renting a room in a B&B!!! Haha. Onwards and upwards from here, I hope!

    I am pretty sure Instagram hates everyone. It’s so frustrating. But that’s really annoying that Facebook has that policy, at the end of the day EVERYTHING is political. I get it to the extent that you know, they’ve been basically accused of mediating election results and so on, but climate change shouldn’t be lumped in with that!

    Huge congrats on your awards, and enjoy Morocco! 🙂

      Oooo Edinburgh – one of my very favorite cities in the world!!

    Congrats on all of your business successes this month Amanda, you’ve absolutely earned them!

    I completely share your frustrations with Instagram – I actually just decided to take an extended break from it. I deleted the app from my phone and am planning to spend at least a few months away. I know this decision will probably make my engagement rates even worse, but I just couldn’t handle the time commitment or stress anymore.

      I just keep telling myself that the Instagram bubble will eventually burst. We just have to hang in there! I started a new IG account for my new niche blog this month, and I’m having more fun with that one as I feel zero pressure from it at this point.

    Hi, Amanda!
    I’ve heard how January is bad for ad revenue. but $20 RPM is awesome.
    But what got my attention is the speed of your website. I was looking at sites running Mediavine, Adthrive and Ezoic; you did a great job with optimization. And it seems that the latest Mediavine code update works.

    Looking to test them soon…

      January was definitely way down from December in terms of ad revenue, but things are starting to climb back up. I have only good things to say about Mediavine. Their team is ahead of the curve, and truly do everything they can to make sure their publishers succeed and make money – and that includes making sure their ads load up as fast as possible since they know how important site speed is.

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