It is the last day of the month, so I’m whipping up a quick monthly update for you. I’ll share what I did in April travel-wise, life-wise and look forward to the things ahead. I hope this gives a nice insight into my life as a travel blogger and as a real person (I am real!).
From Limburg to Lebanon: April 2019 Life and Blog update
Do you like looking back?
- Travel Plans and Preparations: January 2019
- Summer vibes in Winter: February 2019
- Carnival & Costumes: March 2019
Hiking in the Netherlands
We kicked April off with our big test weekend hiking in the Netherlands. As my country is as flat as a little pancake, we picked the hilliest part and the highest hill and decided on 2 days of walking in Limburg. We choose 2 stretches of the Krijtlandpad and walked 24 km (15 miles) on the first day, including the ascent of the highest hill of the Netherlands and we did 18 km (11 miles) the 2nd day.
It was my first time walking these kinds of lengths consecutive and it would be the first time walking with my new hiking gear (poles, tights, and jacket) and with my new GoPro Hero 7.
I’m not going to lie, my pack was way heavier than I practiced until now and it was a bit of a hassle managing the poles, the camera, the GoPro and hydrating myself frequently. No wonder, I made even more purchases after the weekend with a GoPro body clip, a hydration bladder, and Lifestraw and some other clothes.
Luckily for us, we had the best and sunniest weekend ever. We arrived in the South of Limburg (roughly 2.5 hours drive from my home) and enjoyed a long weekend of walking under the bright blue sky.
We navigated through fields and forests and climbed some nice little hills. At the end of the day, I was pretty much done with the walking and had some sore spots here and there. As the sun was setting, we managed to arrive at our apartment for the night, just before it was dark.
The next morning, I didn’t feel too sore, and we set out with similar excitement. Ok, at the end of the day, I was happy to stop at 18 km as we took the bus back to our car, instead of walking another 8 km.
Conclusions of the test hiking weekend in Limburg
- We packed too much stuff. My boyfriend is in charge of carrying our stuff (otherwise it will be too easy for him). But including camera gear and water, it was a bit too heavy. We managed to reduce 4kg of his pack and we’ll have to do another weigh-in later.
- I needed new shoes. So… I bought a new pair.
- Changing socks more often. So… I bought more pairs of socks.
- My new Fjällraven hiking tights are fantastic. You can read why I love them so much, here.
- The new underwear not so much, so I switched to a boxer to try that.
- The distance and the altitude (0 to 350 m more or less) were quite manageable. I need to continue as planned and we need to practice more multi-day hikes/walks.
If you’re curious what our weekend looked like, I made a short little video with the GoPro. Be gentle on me, it was my first video and I still need a lot to learn. Check it out here:
Preparing for my trip to Lebanon
After we got back, I needed to refocus on Lebanon. But I wasn’t feeling it that much. I was torn. Should I even go? I felt emotionally very unbalanced, very stressed and with a bank account with the wrong color, I was seriously doubting if I should go to such an expensive country as Lebanon. My fur buddy got sick, so I had an unexpected high veterinarian bill and all in all, I felt very overwhelmed.
The idea of solo navigating a new country was just too much. I wanted to hide under the covers and sleep. For more than a week, I was an indecisive pile of a human being. It triggered all kinds of anxiety and I couldn’t even decide which tomatoes to buy at the market. Hot Mess for sure.
However, I put on my big girl pants and had a good and long conversation with myself and decided I didn’t want to miss out on any fun trip. I did want to go. Any problems or issues would still be there when I got back and I would bring them with me, no matter where I would go.
So.. I got on a plane and had the time of my life!
10-day solo trip to Lebanon
Lebanon was amazing. The first few days were sunny and nice and I had an absolute blast discovering Roman Ruins and springtime Beirut. I rented a car and driving around Lebanon wasn’t all that bad as everyone makes it out to be. It allowed me to be independent and go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
I was careful not to spend too much money, so I kept a tight budget each day. When I got to the Qadisha Valley, the weather flipped, but I managed to pull off my first ever solo hike! I felt so empowered. It was easy and nothing bad happened. It was mainly the demons in my head that needed to shut the f*ck up!
From sands to snow to bed
Sadly, the weather deteriorated during the last days of my trip to Lebanon, which coincided with hail storms, thunder and a whole bunch of snow! Snow! In April! In Lebanon! Who knew? I also caught a nasty tummy bug, which resulted in severe diarrhea that left me cold, weak and shivering in bed, while the rain blasted against my hotel window.
For 2 days, I couldn’t move away from a toilet for more than 5 minutes and I felt absolutely terrible. This stomach bug made it to the top 3 of worst travel experiences (after Mongolia in 2007, Bolivia in 2016 and now Lebanon 2019). I got antibiotics at a local pharmacy and restocked on my ORS to get better. Things improved a little bit but it lasted for a good 5 days before I felt remotely better. I guess that is one of the disadvantages of traveling with Crohn’s disease: when it is bad, it is really really bad.
Luckily, I was able to fly home and overall, I look back on an epic Lebanon trip. I plan to write loads of good things about the country on my blog. The first one is already up: 25 things you should know before traveling to Lebanon!
Life changing events
When I got back, I was called into the HR office at my full-time job, because we had some paperwork to fill out. As of this week, I no longer work full-time! I finally had enough nerves and confidence to request for a reduction of my hours and (thank you EU-law) it was approved. As of this week, I’ll have each Friday off, which I intend to use for blogging purposes. Yeaaaa!
I am over the moon excited about this change because I wanted it for a long time. I’m now finally in a financial position that I can cut back on my official hours, which allows me for a more balanced work-private life and also focus more on the blog! Super happy.
Breaking all boundaries
Speaking of the blog, things are going really well. Some of my guest posts have been published and it looks really good to see my writing on other, bigger, blogs! I got amazing feedback about my SEO skills and detailed writing, which is a big ego boost.
Further to that, I made a daily video when I was in Lebanon, which you can find on my YouTube channel. I plan to make more videos to match my blog posts, but if you’re really curious, head over to my Probe around the Globe Video Channel and subscribe.
I just read back, what I wrote in my March recap about the blog: biggest month traffic wise and income wise. Everrrrr….
Guess what I want to write for April?
Biggest. Bestest month Everrrrrrrr…. !!
Of course, I’m super excited about the extra income. But it is not just that. It is such validation to know that I’m writing stuff people want to read. I’m actually helping people to travel further and more frequently. How cool is that!?
With this new change in work- private life- blog life, I set myself a new goal. I want to reach 100.000 visitors per month in the next 6 months. And I want to increase my blog income by another 500€ per month. Fingers crossed my hard work will pay off in that time frame.
Looking ahead to May
How time flies!? Back in November, my boyfriend and I decided we’d do the thru-hike of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. And now, we’re less than 1 month away from our departure! Only 4 more weekends left for long hikes, only a couple of weeks left to lose those extra kilos.
Sadly, I’m pretty sure I’ll not hit my weight loss goal before we leave. But thanks to that nasty stomach bug, I did dive under a 100 kg which I’m very happy with. For the next 4 weeks, it is salads, low-carb and low FODMAP for me.
Mainly to bring my stomach turmoil back to normal, but also, hopefully, to lose an extra 1,5 to 2 kg before we go. Fingers crossed I can stick to my meal plan!
We’re also looking into doing another test weekend, maybe in Germany or Luxembourg but we haven’t decided on the details just yet. I feel I need steep ascents and descents over longer distances to get more confident for our big hike in Wales.
I guess I won’t do a May update because that will be right in the middle of our epic long distance hike in Wales, but you can always stalk me on Facebook, Twitter and now YouTube (and maybe Instagram) where I plan to update at least daily with our adventures during the hike.
Thanks for reading again. Feel free to leave a comment below, with any thought that crosses your mind after reading my life and blog update!
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And with those words I’ll leave you and say goodbye. Until next time!
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