Sometimes you need a slow, laidback four weeks for once, and that’s exactly what month 56 was for me!

I’d just finished up an intense island-hopping adventure around the South Pacific, and was exhausted, stressed, and ready to hit pause on my travels for a while.

Luckily, I found the perfect two places to do exactly that.

Streets of Oaxaca

I’d originally planned to spend time in Oaxaca back in 2014, when I spent a full six months travelling around Mexico. With an unusually cold snap in the air that winter, though, Dave and I voted for skipping anywhere at altitude and heading straight for the beach.

It was the right decision for us at the time, but man, I’d always regretted not getting to eat my way around that beautiful mountain city.

So from the moment I touched down until the moment I left, I did my best to try as many foods as possible. There was the life-changing chilaquiles sandwich — not exactly authentic Mexican food, I know, but amazing nonetheless.

a chilaquiles sandwich

There was the delicious octopus and avocado tacos from the taco stand across the road from our apartment. Only $1.50 each!

octopus and avocado tacos

And the colourful vegetarian tostado from our local organic market.

vegetarian tostada

I had high hopes for my time in Oaxaca, and spoke eagerly and often about taking a trip out to see the Monte Albán ruins and the Hierve el Agua rock formations. Did I manage to see either of them? Nope!

Sometimes you don’t realise how stressful a situation has been until you stop, and pausing my fast-paced travels in Oaxaca knocked me on my ass. As did the altitude. I spent most of my time in Mexico with various colds and ear/sinus infections, and panting whenever I moved more than a few steps.

But I loved this beautiful city and know I’ll be back soon. The next time, I’ll hopefully be rested, full of energy, and eager to explore!

american food in dallas

But first: a layover in Dallas, where I scouted out the most American meal I could find.

From Oaxaca to Seattle, which is one of my favourite cities, and one I could see myself living in if I had a different passport.

Travel blogging friends Steph and Mike were heading to Japan for a month and asked if we would be interested in dogsitting for their adorable pooch, Leo, while they were gone. I think I took all of about 3 seconds for me to reply with: YES!!!!!!!!!

And then I let Dave know that we would be going to Seattle.

Lauren and Leo

And oh my god, what a fantastic time I had with my new furry friend!

It’s funny, because growing up, I never had any pets, and when I first started travelling I was pretty anti-animals. I’d never spent any time around them, and dogs had always intimidated me.

Slowly, though, I began to discover just how amazing they are, to the point that I now basically want to adopt every single dog I see.

And Leo was the best dog of all.

During my time in Seattle, I got to tuck him into bed every night.

Lauren and Leo

And sometimes we even napped together.

Lauren and Leo

Some days, I confused him by sitting in his bed.

Lauren and Leo

And whenever it rained outside, we snuggled up together on the sofa with blankets.

Lauren and Leo

We grew to become chill-out partners in crime.

Lauren and Leo

So, what did we get up to in Seattle when we weren’t obsessing over Leo? Well, we were staying in the super-cool Capitol Hill area, and spent a lot of time checking out a whole load of restaurants and bars. We also got to hang out with travel blogging friend Jessie for the first time, and my best bud Diana flew out to spend a few days with us.

One highlight from my month was getting to attend my first football match outside of the U.K.! We watched the Seattle Sounders play for a good half an hour until a torrential downpour had us fleeing for shelter, because Seattle. But regardless, it was a fun evening, and I was shocked by how passionate and loud the Sounders fans are!

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Finally, I found the perfect church for someone with a brain like mine.

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And that was my month! It was a fairly slow-paced, relaxed four weeks, with good food, great company, and the best dog in the world.

Travel map for Month 56

Countries visited: 2

Mexico, United States

Places visited: 3

Dallas, Oaxaca, Seattle 

Distance travelled: 2,556 miles

Number of photos taken: 27

Number of photos taken of Leo: 25

Highlight of the Month

Is it really going to be any surprise if I say hanging out with Leo? I fell hard for that dog and love him as if he were my own. Six months on, I still can’t stop talking about how amazing he is, and showing people photos of him, and speaking proudly of all of the good times we shared. I know that’s ridiculous.

Maybe it’s time for me to halt my travels and get a dog?

Lowlight of the Month

Month 56 kicked my immune system to the kerb, which was hugely disappointing. During these four weeks, I battled a seemingly never-ending stream of infections, culminating in several traumatising visits to doctors in Seattle when I developed a bladder infection that was resistant to all but two types of antibiotics.

And it sucked, guys. I freaking love Seattle and I wanted to spend my time eating and drinking my way around the city, going for runs, and hanging out with friends who were in town. While I managed quite a bit of that, I also ended up in pain for a significant chunk of my trip.

It was this month that confirmed it was time for me to end my full-time travels. The stress and exhaustion was making me seriously unwell and I knew it wasn’t going to improve unless I made a serious change in my life. My failing health was a huge sign that this lifestyle wasn’t working for me anymore.

Incident of the Month

I’ve racked my brains and I really can’t think of anything that happened this month, which is definitely a first for me!

Instagram of the Month

I think I posted photos of my South Pacific trip for about six months straight on Instagram, because those paradise island shots always do so well! This is still my most popular Instagram photo of all time, racking up a whopping 1,323 likes!

My Next Steps

Month 57 travel map

I’ve got a much more exciting month coming up next!

After finishing up the remainder of my stint in Seattle, I’m jetting over to the U.S. South to begin a music-themed road trip with my family. On the cards are visits to New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, and Miami!

And then, a flight to Lisbon, where I’m planning on spending a month, or maybe longer.

We’ll see how I like it ;-)