Travel and Blogging Recap: September 2019

Hey guys! I’ve decided to bring back my monthly recaps. Blogging these days feels so… strategic, so I wanted to have a place where I could casually share my travel plans, book recommendations, and life updates. I’m also going to start sharing traffic and income reports. Thanks for reading!

Hey everyone! How’s your fall going?

Honestly, I was a little afraid to post this. When writing this recap, I couldn’t help but wonder, Is anyone still reading? Did grad school completely kill my blog?

As you may have noticed (or not), since starting grad school last September, I’ve barely blogged. Free time has been very limited, so at times, blogging has felt like an impossibility.

That being said, I miss blogging. A lot. This blog is as much my passion project as it is my part-time job, so I’m not ready to give it up.

So, I’m writing this to say that I’m still here. And if you’re still reading, that’s amazing. Thank you.

Where I’ve been:

Ann Arbor (30 days)

I spent September at home in Ann Arbor. Classes started in early September, and it’s already pretty full-on.

(Side note – is it just me, or is grad school insanely hard? I basically always feel like I’m drowning.)

September Highs:

Moving into my new apartment. Last year, I lived in a brand-new high-rise apartment. While that may sound glamorous, it really wasn’t for me; it was over-priced, cheaply built, and the windows didn’t open. (For some reason, that really drove me crazy.)

Though my new apartment is tiny and I have two roommates (with one bathroom), I absolutely love it. I think I was meant to live in a creaky old Victorian house. The character! The details!

I’m especially obsessed with my black-and-white kitchen floor.

Exploring Detroit. I’ve spent as much time in Detroit as possible recently, which by the way, is so cool these days. The downtown is full of locally owned businesses, and there are new bars, restaurants, and hotels opening all the time.

I always forget how much of a city person I am until I step foot in one, and immediately feel energized, calm, and almost giddily happy.

Candy Bar, a super chic new bar in downtown Detroit. I’ve been twice in the last month.

Downtown Detroit in September.

Ashley Abroad turned 7! Well technically my blog turned 7 in August, but whatever. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for seven years. That’s longer than I’ve dated anyone, lived in a single city, or done basically anything else in my adult life.

Getting back into photography. After buying my “dream” camera a few years ago (an absurdly heavy full-frame Canon dSLR), I quickly realized I hated lugging it around.

So before my trip to Japan in May, I bought a mirrorless Fujifilm camera. And it’s made such a difference – photography is actually fun again. It may sound silly, but buying a smaller camera has totally reinvigorated my passion for photography.

September Lows:

Medical bills. I haven’t mentioned this yet on the blog, but I got really sick in 2018 and was hospitalized four times. On one of those occasions, I was hospitalized for five days.

Though this happened last year, I’m still getting medical bills. It turns out that in America the worst part about getting sick isn’t being ill — it’s dealing with medical bills. Figuring out how to pay those bills has not only blown through my savings, it’s also taken up hours of my time and caused an immeasurable amount of stress.

I now know a depressing amount of health insurance-related acronyms and have spent more time in the healthcare subReddit than I care to admit. TLDR; Can we all move to Canada yet?

Programming. I’m taking two programming classes this semester and coding is just not. my. jam. But it’s a required part of my degree so I’ve got to get through it. Wish me luck.

Blogging Stuff


Before I get into the nitty-gritty, a few housekeeping notes:

A new focus on Ashley Abroad. Moving forward, my goal on Ashley Abroad will be to create useful content to help other travelers plan their trips. I will of course still post personal essays and musings, but I want my content to actually be, you know, useful for other people.

I’m hiring! After seven years of creating all my own content, I’m now hiring writers! Get in touch if you’re interested in writing about travel, culture, and expat life. All opportunities are paid.

Changing the name of my expat interview series. I’m changing the name of my expat series from American Expats to Living Abroad. The new name reflects my desire to feature expats of more nationalities, which is something I’ve already started doing.

A new theme and brand! Notice anything different? My site has a new theme. while it’s not completely finished, it feels fantastic to no longer be using my clunky old theme. I’ve also re-branded a bit – what do you think?

Popular posts

Most popular post: 10 Ways Living Abroad Permanently Changed Me – Because who doesn’t love a listicle? I had a lot of fun writing this post, and it seems like a lot of people could relate to it.

Other posts published in September:

Blogging traffic & income (September 2019):

I’m going to start recapping my blog traffic and income, as I personally enjoy reading other bloggers’.

September traffic: 70,827 page views. My highest month of traffic yet!

September blogging income – $2,112.61

  • Advertising – $1,083.51 – the first time I’ve hit more than $1,000 in advertising income!
  • Affiliate income (Amazon) – $1,002.94 – This is the first time I’ve made more than $1,000 in Amazon income, too.
  • Affiliate income (not Amazon): $15.98 – This is kind of dismal. I probably need to work on this category.
  • Other (products, ebooks, etc.): $8.85 – I sold one ebook, ha.

Note that this is my blogging income before deductions or expenses.

Favorite read of the month

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

I didn’t know if I’d like this book because I’m not a mom, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s witty, well-researched, and has lots of funny personal anecdotes about living in Paris. Highly recommended.

I’m now reading The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and so far, it’s delightful. I’ll report back next month.

As always, I would LOVE to hear what you’re reading! Feel free to leave your book recommendations in the comments.

Up next:

October is going to be a quiet month because I have mid-terms. But I have a lot of travel coming up in November.

Antigua & Barbuda – In November, I’m heading to Antigua for my cousins’ wedding. I’m super excited because I love weddings and adore my cousin and his fiancée (she’s a multilingual entrepreneur who owns a video production company in Colombia and is basically the Dos Equis man).

Cuba – One of my best friends convinced me to spend a long weekend in Cuba in November and I’m not mad about it. So I guess I’ll be in the Carribean a lot next month, which I’m also not mad about.

How was your September? I’d love to hear about what you’re doing, and am all ears for any book recommendations/Cuba travel tips you may have.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

12 thoughts on “Travel and Blogging Recap: September 2019”

  1. You were most definitely meant to live in an old Victorian house! That kitchen floor is so beautiful!
    I’m loving the new theme and I’m so glad monthly updates are back!

  2. Definitely still here and reading :)

    Two books I’d recommend-Mistress of the Ritz and The Five (you get a backstory of Jack the Ripper’s five victims, instead of just the media labeling, they were prostitutes etc)

    Your travel plans sound fantastic, those are two Caribbean destinations high at the top of my list!

    As for me, I’m headed to France next month (first time being back in almost a decade). Hitting up Paris and then going to Vichy France for a couple of weeks of language school! And then next winter, finally making it to SE Asia. I am SO stoked!

    P.S. Yes, coding sucks. Says the person who was also required to take a course on it in grad school :)

  3. 1. grad school is a beast. it adds up so much faster than undergrad, and i promise you are not the only one who feels like they’re drowning. remember why you’re doing it, and remember that you’ve handled so many other difficult situations and will find your way through this as well. you’ve got this!

    2. so many dittos on the camera! i saved up for so long to buy myself a nikon dslr, and while i love the pictures it takes, i hate lugging it around. it’s heavy and bulky and i’m always scared of breaking it. last year i bought a mirrorless sony camera before a trip to europe and am so happy with my purchase. the pictures are just as clear, and the camera is so much easier to carry.

    3. i love the new focus and the new theme of your blog! can’t wait to continue following along (and will be emailing you separately about writing :)).

    4. book recommendations: becoming; educated; no hard feelings; just mercy. i’ve been deep in a nonfiction world this year, and these have been my favorites.

    5. i absolutely feel you on the stop-and-start world of blogging. i took a long break from writing earlier this year because i “didn’t have time” before remembering how cathartic the act of writing is for me. i don’t get to it as much as i would like, but in times of busyness and stress my blog has always been one of the things that got me through. again: remember your why.

    that got really long, but i had a lot of things to share :) good luck with school, and with life! xx

    • Still subscribed and eagerly waiting!
      Sidenote* I also miss Gamma’s comments. I remember holding back on commenting before because her comments should always be first :)

    • Thanks, Veena for the encouraging words about grad school, and for the book recommendations! I’m also more of a non-fiction reader. Looking forward to hearing from you about the writing opportunity :)

  4. I recently discovered your blog and am a huge fan! As a small, college travel blogger I find your story and content to be extremely inspiring. I also struggle to write while being a student, but hope to focus on my blog more post-grad!

  5. So happy you’re blogging more regularly again! I just randomly checked your blog after a few months and was thrilled to see this monthly recap.

    I totally understand needing to write more “helpful” content for SEO/traffic purposes (that’s basically all I do lol) but I hope you’ll keep sharing fun personal posts as well because I love reading them!

    Sorry to hear about your medical issues, that sounds like a nightmare! Hope all ends up well for you.

    And I’m feeling the same way about photography, I hate having to carry around my huge DSLR and lenses and it makes me not even want to take photos as much. A mirrorless camera sounds like an amazing solution!

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