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April 2018 in Review: When Mental Health Comes First

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It has been a really long month. When I wrote my March 2018 recap, I didn’t think April would be quite like this. However, life happens and sometimes things have to take a back seat for a little while. From days marked by panic attacks where I couldn’t get out of bed to a long and arduous recovery process, April has been a month of introspection, seeking help, recovery, and looking forward.

Why Jetfarer Has Been Oddly Quiet in April

*This is going to get really personal, really fast. So be prepared, or skip ahead to the happier sections!

In our interview series, both Ryan and Abu touched on mental health as something that needs more attention and understanding, especially in the young professional world. This has never rang more true in my own life — and here’s why.

It all started with my sleep schedule. I’d been noticing for months that I wasn’t sleeping quite as well as I used to, but in the past few months, I realized that my sleep schedule was totally off. One night, I’d sleep 11 hours and still feel tired in the morning. The next, I’d only get 2 hours. I always felt exhausted and fatigued, and it got to the point where I could hardly get myself out of bed in the morning.

Sleep wasn’t the only thing that suffered, though. Over the course of a few months, I became extremely withdrawn. I didn’t make plans with friends anymore. I canceled appointments and meetings because being around people made me so anxious I couldn’t function. And I’m usually an EXTREME extrovert!

But, what really made me realize that I needed to step back and get help was my mental state. I was ALWAYS sad and on edge. I cried every day on the way to and from work. Panic attacks were a normal occurrence, especially when my superiors would text, message, and call me all hours of the night. In a few instances, I felt like life wasn’t worth living anymore.

You might be wondering what caused all of this. Much like ~70% of Americans who don’t feel satisfied at work, I have an extremely demanding full-time job that doesn’t give me a lot of love. I won’t go into detail here, but it simply wasn’t a good match for me. Mixed with a long-distance relationship and a time-consuming (but beloved, of course!) travel website, the “always on” lifestyle began to slowly chip away at my well-being.

My solution? Take it easy in April. Let Jetfarer coast for a bit. Get professional help for my mental health problems. Invest in self-care and trip planning (which is super therapeutic for me!). And recognizing, despite how hard each and every moment felt, that the world wasn’t going to end.

“Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” There’s a reason why they tell you to do this on every airplane safety video. It’s because you can’t help others if you’re suffocating. This month (and continuing into next month), I took some time to take care of myself and get back on my feet. I’m doing it for myself, yes, but I’m also making sure I can continue to bring you all the Jetfarer guides and interviews you love.

April Was Full of Showers…But the Flowers Still Grew

Despite some really tough times, thanks mostly to SEO and a very supportive Rafael, Jetfarer still grew in the double digits month over month. Although the growth wasn’t quite as high as I’d hoped for at the beginning of the month, I can’t really complain! Not much travel happened in April, but that’s what May is for, right? 🙂

April Travel Recap

I didn’t do much travel this month, though I did take several day trips from my home in Washington, DC on the weekends, and got to see the last few cherry blossoms in the city. I also went down to Houston for my routine visit to see Rafael and my many college friends. I also did a bunch of travel planning for May, which will be an exciting month (see May ’18 travel plans below for the scoop!).

April Website Growth

March ’18 Monthly Numbers

*Based on 30 days – March 2 to March 31

  • Unique users: 13,086
  • Sessions: 14,751
  • Pageviews: 18,031
April ’18 Monthly Numbers

*Based on 30 days – April 1 to April 30

  • Unique users: 14,748 (+12.7%)
  • Sessions: 16,793 (+13.8%)
  • Pageviews: 20,037 (+11.1%)
Big Wins in April
  • Our highest traffic day yet – with 679 unique users and 876 pageviews
  • 122% growth in SEO (search engine) traffic to the site

May ’18 Jetfarer Goals & Travel Plans

For all of the quietness that was April, I’m SO excited to share with you the amazing and exciting month that will be May! Here’s to a month full of website growth, travel, and feeling that amazing feeling of wonder and awe at the world once again.

May Website Goals

May ’18 Monthly Web Traffic Goals:
  • Unique users: 17,500 (19% growth)
  • Sessions: 20,000 (19% growth)
  • Pageviews: 24,000 (20% growth)
May ’18 Social Media Goals:

I didn’t really focus on social media much at all in April, so my goals have stayed more or less the same:

May ’18 Monthly Qualitative Goals:
  • Get back on my feet again: This is the most important goal of all – I want to make sure I am in a great headspace so I can continue to write the guides (and take the photos) you all know and love.
  • Continue working on SEO: Our SEO traffic grew over 100% in the past month, and I’m hoping I can continue this awesome growth into the summertime.
  • Grow Jetfarer’s Instagram following: You cool cats love to hang out on Instagram, I know. So I’ll be taking and posting even more exciting stuff on Instagram as I start traveling again.
  • Hire a VA: This is still in progress!
Iran! Source: Pixabay

May ’18 Travel (and Life) Plans

May is going to be a super exciting month for Jetfarer and for travel. This weekend, I’m headed to Quebec City for the Women in Travel Summit. I go to this event almost every year to hang out with inspiring women travelers and online business owners who are KILLIN’ IT. This year, I’m especially excited to go because I think the extra jolt of inspiration will be a wonderful way to kick off the month.

On May 5th, I turn 25! I’m so excited to celebrate 25 years of Cinco de Kayo at the summit (and then again in DC with friends…and AGAIN in Houston with more friends).

In mid-May, I’m boarding my first long haul flight of the year to Zurich, where I’ll be eating a quick fondue lunch then speeding off to the gorgeous Lake Como, Italy for a few short days of relaxation, exploration, and immersion in nature and charming small towns.

Then, after Lake Como, I’m heading to Iran! (Surprise!) I’ve been working on planning a trip to Iran for months now, and my visa has finally been signed and sealed. For Americans, we have to go on a licensed tour in order to get a visa, so I’ll be exploring the country with a local Iranian tour operator. I’m so excited to see this beautiful place with my own eyes and learn about its rich history and culture.

Some Final Musings

The reason why I told you all of this deeply personal stuff is simple: I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of having a mental health problem, especially one caused by the unnecessary stresses of a demanding job or a difficult lifestyle. There’s really no such thing as a 9 to 5 anymore, and this culture can be toxic when it gets to be too much. So, if you read my story above and you feel similarly, know that you aren’t alone and that you, too, can get back on your feet.

May feels like a new beginning, though. I’ll be entering my 25th year of life in a foreign country with a bunch of new and old friends from a community I love. I’m taking some substantial time off to relocate back to Houston and travel to places I never would have dreamed of visiting. I’m entering my 25th year of life with an eye on the prize of freedom, and I’m not looking back.

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Kay is a full-time media professional located in Washington DC who takes every spare day of time to travel the world. In the last year alone, she's visited over 10 different countries and taken a dozen short trips in between. You can typically find her wandering the streets of a city, taking ridiculous self portraits, or hiking a mountain somewhere. Connect with Kay: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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