In my last update, I honestly was dreading what fall would bring. I was unmotivated to write, and on the verge of having to cancel all my fall travel and work plans because of you-know-what surging in the US. It wasn't a great time, folks.
But thankfully, I'm here to report that September and October ended up turning out just fine!
The Delta surge seemed to stop surging in most of the US by mid-September, which meant the projects I had planned could still go forward. It was still touch-and-go for a couple of weeks, but my Florida Keys and Finger Lakes campaigns (those are trips in which I work with local tourism boards) were able to happen, and both went really well!
Elliot and I did have to change our October trip plans at the last minute (more on this later), but overall September and October turned out much better than I was anticipating just two months ago.
September and October: The months in travel
- Countries visited: 1 – USA
- States visited: 3 – Florida, New York, Georgia
- Flights taken: 7 (OMG!!)
- Days spent on the road: 21
Getting on a plane again – I got on my first flight in more than 18 months in September. It was a direct flight from Cleveland to Miami, and the weirdest part was that it didn't really feel that weird at all! Yes, you have to wear a mask in airports and on planes; but I honestly don't mind wearing one, and tend to forget I even have my KN95 on after a while. We had no issue on any of the flights we took in September and October (7 flight legs in all), and I felt fairly comfortable being back in the air. (Though once those mask mandates drop, I know I'll probably feel more anxious!)
Road tripping the Florida Keys – That first-flight-back was the start of a road trip Elliot and I took through the Florida Keys. We spent a week island-hopping, doing all sorts of fun outdoor activities like learning how to wakeboard, kayaking through mangroves, searching for dolphins, and eating lots of great food. I already wrote about that road trip here.
Visiting the Dry Tortugas – While we were in the Keys, we took a day trip by seaplane to Dry Tortugas National Park. This is one of the least-visited national parks in the US since you can only reach it by plane or boat, and we both felt so lucky to tick it off our bucket list! We had absolutely perfect weather on the day we went, which meant incredible plane views and warm water for snorkeling. I'll be writing about this soon!
Solo road tripping the Finger Lakes – After giving myself 2 weeks at home after the Florida Keys, I hit the road again – but this time on my own. I headed to the Finger Lakes for a week to explore all the things you can do there in the fall. I visited some wineries, but also did some hiking, went to some cool museums, and explored a bunch of adorable small towns. I really love this region of New York, and had fun solo road tripping again.
Celebrating in Savannah – A few days after I got home from New York, Elliot and I were packing our bags again for our birthday-anniversary trip. (Our birthdays and wedding anniversary are all within 3 weeks, so we usually try to go somewhere in October to celebrate everything.) We flew to Savannah, Georgia for a week of wandering squares and eating delicious food. This trip was kind of last-minute, so we planned a lot of it as we went – which ended up being exactly what we both needed.
Canceling our Austin trip – If you've been a follower for a while, you might remember that we were *supposed* to go to Austin in October for the Formula 1 USGP. We spent a ton of money on tickets with behind-the-scenes access, but then were told in September that because of COVID protocols, we wouldn't be getting any of that behind-the-scenes access. We were given the option of getting a refund or deferring our tickets to 2022 if we no longer wanted to attend, and ultimately decided to just postpone our F1 trip. We'll be able to go to any race on the calendar next year (which is great!), but were still a bit bummed to have to cancel.
Us canceling at the last minute is how we ended up going to Savannah instead. This highlights the need to make flexible travel plans right now! I was able to cancel our hotel room for free, and change our flights for free – meaning we thankfully didn't lose any money on this trip.
The death of unplanned travel – Now, I'm not saying it'll be like this forever, but in today's current climate of increased travel demand and decreased supply (especially when it comes to flights, rental cars, service workers, etc.), it's much, much harder to just pick up and go somewhere without planning anything in advance. We had a really good time in Savannah and ultimately were able to do *most* of the things we wanted to, but we had to be flexible since a lot of the tours we wanted to take needed to be booked a few days in advance, and you couldn't eat at many restaurants without having made prior reservations. I mentioned this after out trip to Detroit, too. Right now, expect to need to do some planning even if you're not normally a planner.
(And that's just for domestic travel; if you're traveling internationally, there are also testing requirements, health forms, and more to worry about – which is why I haven't left the country yet.)
Missing out on fall – After a hot (but also wet?) summer and similarly warm fall, conditions just weren't right for brilliant fall colors in Ohio or New York this year. So while I still loved my Finger Lakes trip, I was definitely a bit bummed to miss out on amazing color. (Last year in Michigan definitely spoiled me!)
September and October on the blog(s)
In my last update, I was bemoaning traffic drops thanks to the Delta surge, Google updates, and back-to-school season approaching. Those lower traffic numbers have unfortunately persisted, and that coupled with me actually being on the road a bit in the last couple of months meant I barely found time to publish anything at all.
Gone are the days when I could bang out a whole new blog post in just a couple hours. These days, the long, detailed posts I like to write take lots of TIME. Days, sometimes, when you add up the time it takes to write, edit photos, add affiliate links, and make sure all the facts are correct.
I'm not even going to say “I'll publish more this month since I'm not traveling” – but I do hope I can find the motivation to get some more work done. It would be great to get some of that early 2021 traffic back.
A Dangerous Business traffic: 144,668 unique visitors and 192,380 pageviews in September, and 135,779 unique visitors and 169,045 pageviews in October. I won't even publish how much my traffic is down over earlier this year, because it's just sad.
Most popular post: The Ultimate 7-Day Florida Keys Road Trip Itinerary – This post was the result of a partnership with the Florida Keys & Key West tourism board, and it turned out great! It's already getting some decent traffic, hopefully from people looking to plan a similar road trip this winter. (Fun fact: I write ALL of my itinerary posts so that you can plan the exact same trip if you want to.)
Other posts published:
- Solo in Chicago: The Perfect Itinerary for a Solo Weekend Trip to the Windy City
- 10 Amazing Places to See Fall Colors in Michigan
On Cleveland Traveler, fall is usually a slightly slower time in terms of traffic, since kids head back to school and most people are just saving up all their energy for the holidays. But the holidays are rapidly approaching, so I expect these numbers to rise significantly by the end of the year.
Cleveland Traveler traffic: 33,803 unique visitors and 44,734 pageviews in September, and 32,205 unique visitors and 42,545 pageviews in October.
If you want to see what I've been up to on Cleveland Traveler lately, visit the site here.
September and October on social media
I was pretty busy sharing trips on social media these last two months. And even though I tend to share content after a trip these days (both for safety and just pure time management reasons), I still felt slightly overwhelmed and like I fell behind with it all.
It used to be that when you traveled, you might hastily put up a photo on Facebook or Instagram, or share some random things to Instagram Stories throughout the day. Now, though, I find myself wanting to include so much more – to the point where posting a day's worth of IG Stories might take me 1-2 hours, and I basically write mini blog posts to accompany photo albums on Facebook.
None of this is necessarily bad (I'm really proud of all the social content I publish!), but it does mean that it consumes more of my time than I'd like. And let's not even get started on trying to find time to make TikTok video and Instagram Reels on top of all of this!
Maybe one of my 2022 goals should be to figure out a way to streamline my time spent on social?
Most popular post on Instagram (@dangerousbiz): I'm behind on my IG feed – I only just started sharing Finger Lakes content, and won't get to Savannah until later this month. But my Florida Keys content did SO well, so I'm sticking to my strategy! My most popular post was this carousel from the Dry Tortugas:
Most popular post on Instagram (@clevelandtraveler): I published less than usual on my Cleveland account since I was away from home and traveling more. On this (smaller) account, it's always so fascinating to me that different content performs better. For example, my best posts in the last two months were Reels! Like this one from the Cleveland Arcade:
September and October business update
I mentioned in my last update that ad rates were crazy high over the summer. And, because there's a lag in advertising payments (I report my ad earnings when they hit my bank account, but they were earned two months earlier), the results of those insane summer RPMs are still showing in my income reports.
But in real-time, ad rates and traffic have dropped off as we've entered a new quarter, so you'll notice lower numbers in my next update.
That being said, 2021 has still been a really excellent year for me income-wise. I really need to figure out how to keep this momentum going for next year.
A Dangerous Business September income report:
- Advertising: $17,826.66
- Affiliates*: $3,486.81
- Paid campaigns: $4,183.68
- Other: $89.20
A Dangerous Business October income report:
- Advertising: $13,928.3
- Affiliates: $2,977.24
- Other: $1,216.01
(Note that this is my income before deductions/expenses and taxes.)
*Curious about how I make money with affiliates? I actually have a course on that! You can check out my affiliate marketing for travel bloggers course here.
On Cleveland Traveler, those high-earning summer months were paid out this fall, and the site is trucking along pretty nicely from an income standpoint.
Cleveland Traveler September income report:
- Advertising: $2,233.42
Cleveland Traveler October income report:
- Advertising: $2,279.07
(Note: A Dangerous Business was started in 2010, and has been monetized for more than 9 years; Cleveland Traveler was started in 2019, and has been monetized for less than 2 years.)
Going on work trips again! – It was SO incredible to have so much work travel on the calendar this fall! I did three campaigns with destinations/brands I loved, and I'm really happy so far with how the content is coming along from those partnerships. It's a lot of work, yes, but I'm loving the challenge and the chance to be creative again with people who value my work.
I forgot how much WORK work trips are – The above being said, you tend to forget how much WORK campaigns can be. It's work I love doing, but most people don't realize that when you do campaigns with tourism boards, your days are pretty much booked solid – and then there's two week's worth of work once you get home, too! Elliot has been on a couple work trips like this with me now, and I don't think he's sold on ever joining me as a full-time Instagram husband. Hahaha. I'm super grateful to be working like this again, but the feeling of never being caught up is real at the moment!
Upcoming this winter
I don't have any concrete travel plans in the coming months. I have a feeling this will change (I actually love winter travel), but I have too many ideas in my brain at the moment to narrow anything down. I still don't know if I'm ready for international travel again just yet, though who knows!
Where do you think I should go this winter?