,

100 Days of UK Lockdown: How Coronavirus Has Changed My Life

Day 100 of UK lockdown. Can you believe we have been officially locked down for 100 days now? I can. It feels like day 1000 though, not day 100. Everyone has either made TikTok videos, baked banana breads or played virtual Zoom quizzes. Remember that Houseparty app right at the start? Nope, me niether! In some ways it’s gone quickly, but when I think back to the 23rd of March, the day Boris Johnson announced the country was to go into immediate lockdown, it feels like a lifetime ago. So much has changed since then. In the world, in the country, in my life. Coronavirus has turned our planet upside down, and I didn’t realise how much of an impact it would have upon me personally too. Although it’s been a tough three months, there have been some happy times too. I wanted to show the good, the bad and the ugly on this blog post so I can look back in a year’s time and remind myself of how I coped during lockdown. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past 100 days of UK lockdown, and how Coronavirus has totally changed my life…

 

The Positives:

I’ve bought a house

 

 

 

Ok let’s start with some good news because something very exciting happened to me during these 100 days of UK lockdown… I only went and bought a HOUSE!! After saving up a deposit for the past 5 years, I have finally decided to put down some roots here in beautiful Oxfordshire and have bought a 2 bed house with my sister Hannah. After our offer got accepted at the end of November, little over 6 months later, on 1st May 2020, we completed our purchase and collected our keys from the estate agents (socially distanced, of course!) Over the past 8 weeks we have completely transformed what was once a run down, neglected property in to a pretty little semi detached house that is now our cosy home! Huge thanks to our mum, dad and our sister Sophie for all their help with painting/cleaning/gardening over the past 2 months – we absolutely could not have done it without you!

 

I’ve gained a qualification (almost!)

 

 

I’ve had to put almost because the qualification isn’t quite mine yet, but in April I enrolled on a course with to become an online English teacher and I am so so close to finishing it! I’m currently on unit 9 of 10 and have completed 2 assignments out of 3, so I just have 1 unit and 1 assignment to go before the course is finished and I am qualified to teach English online as a foreign language. I have thought about being an online English teacher for a while now but have never really had the time to dedicate to an intensive course before, so spending 100 days of UK lockdown putting my energy into something new has been really fulfilling and I am hopeful that I can start teaching online as soon as I am qualified! The course I am taking is the Level 5 168 hour one with the TEFL Academy, which is the UK’s leading level 5 course and is the most recognised in terms of quality. I was inspired by my friend and fellow blogger Gabbi to take up the course this year after seeing her become an online English teacher with mobile company Palfish, and her fab blog post exactly explains how she did it – it’s well worth a read if you are thinking of becoming an online English teacher too.

 

I’ve become a volunteer

 

 

As soon as the government announced they needed 250,000 volunteers for their nationwide NHS Volunteer Responder programme, I signed up right away. I knew I wanted to try and help people during this pandemic, and really wanted to do something useful and worthwhile during my time on furlough. After a whopping 750,000 people signed up (!!) I was chosen to be a Check in & Chat volunteer through the NHS /Royal Voluntary Service and I was even featured in this news story by the Daily Mail. I have spent the past 12 weeks taking calls from people who are isolating and just want a friendly chat with someone to brighten up their day, which I have enjoyed so much! As well as being an NHS volunteer, I am now a volunteer within my local community and have been collecting and delivering shopping and prescriptions to local people in my town who are shielding/vulnerable. Finally, I have also been doing some remote work and fundraising for The Pituitary Foundation, the charity I am an ambassador for, and it has been an honour to help them through these tough times. Being a volunteer for these 3 organisations has been extremely rewarding during the past 100 days of UK lockdown and I hope I can continue to help them even after Coronavirus is over.

 

I’ve spent quality time with my family

 

 

Despite moving house and leaving my family home, I have been able to spend sooo much time with my mum, dad and sisters during these 100 days of UK lockdown and it has been an absolute blessing. We are a very close family anyway, but this has just brought us even closer together. We’ve watched film after film, enjoyed many a countryside dog walk here in our beautiful county of Oxfordshire and have done more after dinner quizzes than we care to remember! A particular highlight of ours was celebrating VE Day sharing afternoon tea and prosecco in our garden with our lovely neighbour across the wall! The sun was shining, We’ll Meet Again was playing on the radio and it was such a beautiful day. It has been really fun to spend more time at home during lockdown and it definitely gave us more quality time to enjoy together before Hannah and I moved into our new home last weekend.

 

 

The Negatives:

I’ve lost my confidence

 

 

Although there have been a lot of positives from the past 100 days of UK lockdown, there have undoubtedly been some low points too. I’m not sure why, but I just feel like I have totally lost my confidence with certain aspects of my life, including the way I look, how my low moods make me feel and how I have not exactly been successful with finding a new relationship lately. This pandemic caught us completely unawares, and I was at a point in my life where I was really happy with how my work and personal life were going, but now it feels as though all of that has been taken away and it has definitely knocked me for six. Here’s hoping things improve once Coronavirus is over. One thing that has helped massively though is walking, I have been enjoying so many walks in the countryside and it’s definitely helped to improve my state of mind (and my fitness!)

 

I’m possibly being made redundant 

 

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New week, new month, new JOB! 😬 Eeeek been keeping this under wraps for a little while, but today's the day I start my brand new job at a luxury travel company in Witney. 🌎 I'm so excited to have swapped a 2hr daily commute for a drive that takes me just 8 minutes to get to my new office 🙈 Instead of finishing at 5:30 and not getting home til nearly 7 I'll actually be home before 5:30 which means I can actually have a social life in the evenings and can fit it around working part time on my blog too ❤️ So excited for my new chapter to begin, after 4 months of travelling and spending way too much money I can't wait to get into a proper routine again and start settling down (kind of 😉) Operation 'Jess is saving up for a house' has been resumed! 🏡 #MondayMotivation #NewJob #NewChapter #WishMeLuck

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Another reason for me feeling so weird lately is because tomorrow I will find out whether or not I have been made redundant from my job. On the day that would have been my 1 year work anniversary, I will be told whether or not I will be staying or going, and I am just completely gutted! I absolutely adore my job at a local luxury travel company in Oxfordshire and the thought of losing it is filling me with dread. I have no idea what the outcome will be tomorrow, but whatever happens I just have to remember that everything happens for a reason. As one door closes, another one opens, so I will be keeping that mindset tomorrow and crossing fingers that things will turn out okay.

 

I’ve missed my old life

 

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Another Monday, another week of lockdown! I think we are on day 89 of lockdown now but it definitely feels more like day 889 😳 As the weeks go on, I start to get abit restless and miss life being 'normal'. I miss going on day trips and weekends away and holidays. I am however feeling really anxious about the idea of travelling again, and I'm pretty sure I won't be setting foot on a plane until at least next summer! ✈️ But in order to get my wanderlust fix I'm planning on taking a few UK staycations right here, whenever we are able to travel safely around the country again 🚘 There are so many places in Britain I haven't been to yet, so I've put together my ultimate UK travel wishlist which you can read right now on the blog! (Link in bio) 💻 Where's your favourite place in the UK? I can't wait to explore more of our home shores. In the meantime, here's a throwback of me loving life and running around the beautiful Lake District last summer 🇬🇧 . . . #lakedistrict #thelakes #lakedistrictlife #lakedistrictnationalpark #lakedistrictuk #lakedistrictwalks #lakedistrictcumbria #igerslakedistrict #cumbria #cumbrialife #visitcumbria #igerscumbria #cumbrianfells #england #weloveengland #visitengland #englandtravel #england_insta #englandtourism #englishlakes #englishtravel #lovegreatbritain #visitbritain #instabritain #bbcbritain #greatbritain #capturingbritain #beautifulbritain #uktravel #ukshots

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When I feel a bit down I start to reminisce and think about my past, and sometimes it’s nice to sit back and reflect but other times it really does get me down. I think about things I did in the past which I really took for granted, like going out for a meal with my friends or popping to the pub for a few drinks on a Friday night. I also miss travelling a LOT. Last year I spent 13 weeks abroad visiting Australia, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Latvia. Not leaving the country since December has kind of got to me this week, and I really miss going on holiday! I have decided, however, that I definitely don’t want to venture abroad until 2021, but I am looking forward to planning plenty of UK staycations to satisfy my wanderlust until I can travel properly again. There are sooo many places that I haven’t explored in this country yet, so I’m going to try and tick as many places off my British bucketlist as I can during the rest of 2020 (if I am able to!)

 

I’m worried about my future

 

 

I think my biggest worry at the moment is the thought of losing my job. Without my job, and my regular income, I cannot pay my mortgage, my bills or my car finance which is something that is making me super stressed. It is such bad timing having just bought a house, but I do have some savings which should tide me over for a couple of months. If the inevitable happens and I do get made redundant I know I’ll have to get another job asap, whether it’s working in a supermarket, taking temp jobs or working in retail until something more permanent comes along, although there are not many jobs in my area at all at the moment. I just feel a bit in limbo and don’t really know what to do so I will probably make a decision about what type of work I want to apply for next week. Times are strange at the moment, aren’t they! Fingers crossed it’ll all work out in the end.

 

It’s been a whirlwind, hasn’t it? The past 100 days of UK lockdown has been a huge challenge for me, and it has affected me much more than I thought it would. Some days I wake up totally fine and feel grateful to have my health and my family. Other days I feel so low I don’t even want to get out of bed. I try to remind myself that it’s okay to feel that way. We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. We’ve never experienced anything like this before. However, with no end in sight, and no vaccine, I have to admit I am finding it increasingly difficult to stay positive. I know these feelings will pass, but right now I am struggling. I am not ashamed to admit that. If you’re feeling the same as me, please remember that it’s okay not to be okay.

Here’s to a more positive few weeks in the hope that Coronavirus will leave us all alone very soon! Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and well and that you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post!

Love Jess x

 

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Looking back on 6 YEARS OF TRAVEL BLOGGING!! I can't believe Journeys with Jessica turns 6 today! 🎈 Seeing as we can't travel anywhere anytime soon I've been looking back at some of my adventures and reminiscing about my favourite trips from the past 6 years ✈️ I'm lucky enough to have explored 30 countries, spent 5 weeks road tripping across America, 6 weeks roaming around Australia and countless weeks inter-railing all over Europe during the past 6 years and I wouldn't change a single thing ❤️ When I started my blog I just wanted somewhere to write down my thoughts and to share my trips with friends and family. Little did I know that it would soon be read by almost 7,000 people a month and I'd clock up nearly 10,000 followers on social media, and that I would meet so many amazing people along the way because of it! ✨ Starting my blog was the best thing I ever did and, although I'm missing travel and am excited to explore new places again one day, right now I just want to focus on planning some U.K. adventures that I can enjoy once all of this is over! My favourite place in our beautiful country is Cornwall, and I'm just itching to get back there to enjoy the sea when it is safe to be able to do so! 🌎 But for now I'll stay at home and reminisce about my past trips, like I've done in my recent blog post, which you can read right now! (Link in bio) 💻 Thankyou SO much for everyone who's ever read my blog, it means the absolute world to me. Here's to the next six years! 🌎

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A Little Life Update: Why I Took a Break from Blogging

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re all keeping safe and well in these strange and uncertain times. I started writing this blog post back in mid-March, but never got round to finishing it. It’s been a while since I last posted, and a lot in my life/the world has changed since then. I took an unintentional break from blogging at the start of the year, with my last blog post being published back in January, when I talked about my 2020 New Years Resolutions and travel plans for the year ahead. That seems like a lifetime ago now, and I can’t believe how much has happened in the past few months.

I took a break from blogging because, if I’m honest, I felt as though I had lost my way a little bit. After my last trip to Riga in December I hadn’t made any firm travel plans for 2020 apart from a weekend to Scotland in May to attempt to climb Ben Nevis (again!) and an overseas hen do for one of my best friends in June. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to travel, and how much I thrive off planning trips, booking weekends away and maximising my annual leave, but this year I felt really different. Even before Coronavirus became a global pandemic and started impacting the world, I wasn’t excited about travel this year, and I have no idea why. Last year was my biggest year of travel yet; I spent 6 weeks in Australia, visited Italy three times, spent a week in both Spain and Portugal and took weekend breaks to Scotland and Latvia. I had some of the best travel experiences of my life in 2019, yet when it came to planning my 2020 travels, I just couldn’t seem to get excited about booking any trips. I did get invited on a last minute press trip to Montenegro, which I was super excited about, but this understandably got cancelled due to Coronavirus and so my excitement was short lived!

 

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🚨 CORONAVIRUS 1 – my travel plans 0 🚨 Feeling very sad today guys… I was soooo excited to let you all know that, a few weeks ago, I got invited on my first press trip of 2020 which was amazing news at the time, but is now sadly not 😭 I was due to go to beautiful #Montenegro at the end of April with their amazing tourism board for 5 days of mountain hiking, cave walking and lake swimming around Perast, Budva, Kotor & Podgorica with a group of other bloggers, but unfortunately the trip has been delayed until further notice given the current global crisis we are all facing for the foreseeable future 🌎 In what is sad and scary times for all of us right now I'm trying to be positive and look forward to planning future trips when all of this is finally over, whether that be in 2020 or 2021 ✨ Luckily the trip has been postponed and not cancelled – a great way to help protect all of us in the travel industry at the moment – so I know I'll be in Montenegro sometime soon, I just have no idea when 😩 For now, here's a sunny picture of me exploring #Kotor on my last visit to this beautiful country back in 2018 🇲🇪 Stay safe everyone, let's get through this horrible time together ❤️ #wanderlustwednesday #visitmontenegro #montenegrowildbeauty #gomontenegro #imisstravelling

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I guess without any major travel plans to look forward to, and no other trips to write about, I didn’t really have anything to say on my little corner of the internet, so I took a blogging break which I thought would only last a few weeks, but instead has lasted nearly four months. This is mainly due to me still not having any travel related content to write about, but also of course due to Coronavirus itself. One of the main reasons I haven’t continued to write blog posts is because it doesn’t feel like the right time to be sharing travel content at the moment. How am I supposed to inspire my readers to get excited about travel when we can’t even leave the country?! I feel it would be insensitive for me to write about/encourage travel whilst we are in lockdown but, having said that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing old photos/posts and allowing people to day dream about future trips or reminisce about old ones. I’ve not done that myself yet as I’m still not even thinking about travel, but at some stage I may do.

At a time where Covid-19 is spreading across the world, killing thousands of people, dominating the news headlines and ruling almost every part of people’s lives, I knew it would eventually end up affecting my life too, but I didn’t realise just how much. For my day job, I work at a luxury travel firm in Oxfordshire and Coronavirus first had an impact on my daily life when we were asked to start working from home on 18th March. Adjusting to my new daily work from home life involved walking downstairs instead of driving for my morning commute, wearing a tracksuit instead of office wear and having daily lunchtime walks with my dog instead of with my colleagues!

 

 

On 1st April though I was officially furloughed from work and unable to continue my role at the company, a job which I love so much. I was initially quite sad, but after lots of support from HR, my wonderful manager and my fellow colleagues who had also been furloughed, I started to think differently. I am extremely lucky to be in a position to be furloughed; I will receive 80% of my wages despite not carrying out any work for the company at all, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to return to my role when all of this is over.

A couple of weeks down the line and I’m slowly adjusting to furlough life and everything that comes with it. I’ve read three books, started baking cakes, enjoyed my daily dog walks, started doing gym workouts from home 4 times a week and am trying to fill my days so I keep busy. I’m extremely thankful to have a lovely garden at home which I can enjoy every day, and I’m grateful for this lovely sunny weather we’ve been blessed with recently too! Mentally though I am finding things quite hard. Some days I’m totally fine and can keep busy, but other days I just don’t know what to do with myself. I’m not sleeping very well, I cry at everything (even more so than usual!), I’m really snappy and short tempered and am finding some days hard to keep positive. I guess it’s natural to feel this way with so much uncertainty in the world, I’m just scared that Covid-19 will affect me or my family physically, and I think that’s what I’m feeling anxious about.

 

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I hope you've had a lovely Easter weekend staying at home 🏡 Every time I walk past this gorgeous cottage I want to live there! Haven't been to this little village in #Oxfordshire since we went into lockdown 3 weeks ago, and I can't wait for the day when we are able to drive 10 mins to the next village/town to enjoy a long walk or a pub lunch rather than being confined to our back gardens for the foreseeable future ✨ This easter has been a little different – last year I had just got back from being in Australia – but when all of this is over, I'll look back and be so grateful that I have my family, my health, a lovely home & 2 pretty gardens to enjoy in the sunshine ☀️ Whatever happens over the next few weeks, we must continue to #stayhome ❤️ The world will be waiting for you to visit when we are able to, and the #Cotswolds certainly isn't going anywhere 🌎 . . . #happyeaster #uklockdown #minsterlovell #littleminster #lovethecotswolds #cotswoldstyle #thecotswolds #loveoxfordshire #weloveengland #visitbritain #instatravel #lovegreatbritain #capturingbritain #photosofbritain #loveengland #photosofengland #visitengland #thisisengland #igersengland #igersuk #igersoxfordshire #cotswoldslife #oxford #experienceoxfordshire #oxfordshire #countryside #oxfordshirelife #travelblogger

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I am trying to fill my days though and have things to do so that I can constantly keep busy during the daytime. Last week I enrolled on a course to get my TEFL certificate which will allow me to teach English as a foreign language online to children living abroad, something I can start doing once I’m qualified, and I can fit it around my job when I eventually go back to work too. I’ve always loved English and had been thinking about it for a while, but now I’ve finally got the course it’s given me something to focus on and I actually feel like I have some structure to my day now. I’ve also signed up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder, which I’m really excited about starting next week. I’m hoping to deliver shopping and prescriptions to people who are self isolating and to offer a friendly telephone service to those who are feeling a bit lonely and who want someone to chat to. I was recently in the Daily Mail after a whopping 750,000 people signed up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder too, and I’m proud to be a part of this wonderful community who are ready to help others during these difficult times.

I guess you could say that I’m feeling a bit more positive now. I haven’t really got my travel motivation back, and I don’t think I will until all of this is over and we are able to travel freely again. I think this will take at least 6 months or possibly even longer as I really can’t see us being able to travel again until autumn at the earliest. Eventually I will look forward to planning new trips but, honestly, the first thing I want to do when the UK lockdown ends is spend time exploring my own country. I want to go to Suffolk to visit my nan and cousins, aunties and uncles who I haven’t seen in ages. I want to go to Liverpool to see my cousin Amy who was supposed to get married in May and I want to go and spend time with my nan, grandad, other cousins, aunties and uncles up there too.

 

 

I want to go to Cornwall, the place I have holidayed almost every year since I was born, so that I can be by the sea. I want to go to York to see my friend Rachel who I was supposed to stay with in Scarborough during the May bank holiday. I want to go to Brighton to see my best friend Emily who I was supposed to be seeing this weekend. I also want to just be able to pop into Oxford and go shopping or eat dinner with my friends from home. I miss all of those things, and all of those people, so very much. So before I can even think about leaving the country and planning things abroad, I want to stay right here first!

I’m hopeful that, when all of this is over, I’ll look back and say I didn’t spend 3 months off work moping about and not achieving anything. I’d like to complete my TEFL course, do lots of volunteering for the NHS, continue my new exercise regime and stay healthy. I guess the reason I am writing this blog post now is to have a sort of diary entry to look back on in a few weeks/months time. None of us know what the future holds, but I’m going to try and be grateful for each day and to remember how fortunate I am to be in this position.

So, why am I writing a blog post now I hear you ask? After all this time? Well, the date has something to do with it too. This time last year I had just flown back from Australia, where I had the biggest and best adventure of my life so far. Fast forward 12 months and, not only has my life changed significantly, the world around me has too. That’s a lot to take in, and a lot to think about, so my way of dealing with it is to reflect and look back at all the amazing things I have done, and tp start looking forward to future, happier times too, when all of this is over.

Look after yourselves, and remember, we WILL meet again.

Love Jess x

 

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My 2020 New Year’s Resolutions & Travel Plans

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating on new years eve? I spent my night with friends in Cheltenham, dressed in 1920s themed fancy dress and welcoming 2020 in style! I have to say, I have been reflecting a lot on the past year lately, and even the last ten years as we say goodbye to the 2010s and welcome in a brand new decade. I’ve grown a lot in the past ten years, from a shy sixteen year old to a confident, outgoing 26 year old who is grateful for many things in my life. I am grateful to have such wonderful family and friends around me, grateful to this blog for allowing me to have a hobby which I absolutely love, and grateful for the fantastic travel opportunities I’ve had in more recent years.

 

 

As I get older I definitely think you start to appreciate things more, and also start to feel more content with life, rather than constantly wanting more or pushing for things to be better. Don’t get me wrong, I am hugely ambitious and will always want to achieve more things, travel to more places and make more memories, but I don’t feel the need to set myself 10-20 resolutions that are unrealistic and will make me feel like a bad person if I don’t achieve them. With that in mind, I thought I would write down just 5 things I want from 2020, and hope that, by the end of the year, I can achieve all of them and feel content after what I’m sure will be another crazy 12 months for me! Here they are…

 

 

I want to buy a house

 

 

A pretty big ask, but something I finally feel I am now ready to do. I have saved up a house deposit for a number of years now, but kept putting it off to go travelling instead – oops! In 2016 I had just short of £8000, which would have been my share of a deposit, but decided to travel around America instead. A couple of years later in 2018 I had £10,000 but decided to blow half it on the trip of a lifetime to Australia. Do I regret my decisions to travel? Not for one second! But I do wish I’d have kept a bit more money back so I could have started building my savings back up a little quicker! I am however now in a place where I have comfortably saved a deposit and am more than ready to put down some roots here in Oxfordshire and have a little place to call my own. I’m actually going to look at buying with my sister, when the time comes, as we are both in the same boat and it means we can actually afford to buy a house instead of a flat. I’m confident that 2020 will be the year that I finally get on the property ladder, and am excited to help make my dreams a reality before 2020 is over!

 

 

I want to focus on my new job

 

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Working hard or hardly working?! 🌴 I actually took a couple of hours out of my holiday to go and do a site visit at this gorgeous hotel in Vilamoura whilst I was away recently… but it's not a hardship to work when your job is as good as this! 🌎 TBT to wearing a blue dress against a blue sky next to a blue pool 💧 . . . #throwbackthursday #hotelviews #portugal #vilamoura #algarve #europe #holiday #septembersunshine #loveportugal #lovethealgarve #visitportugal #visitvilamoura #visitalgarve #algarveportugal #algarvealive #algarvetourism #algarvecoast #vilamouramarina #vilamouraalgarve #vilamouralife #portugaltravel #portugal_lovers #portugal_places #portugal_photos #europetravel #travelgram #darlingescapes #instatravel #mytinyatlas #anantara

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During a time when everyone seems to be quitting their jobs to blog full time, I’m actually doing the opposite and taking a step back from my blog to focus on my day job. Don’t worry, I will still be blogging regularly and sharing relevant content, travel guides and life updates with you along the way, but I’m not going to be constantly pitching to brands and looking for sponsored posts this year as I really want to focus on my job instead. This is my second full time job in the travel industry and, now that I’ve finally found out what it is I want to do with my career, I really want to put all my energy into making it a success. Working at a luxury travel firm means I am lucky enough to learn all about new product and get to experience some amazing 5* hotels and resorts first hand too, so I can combine my love of travel and content creation and apply it to almost every aspect of my job role. I feel like I’ve finally found what I am meant to be doing with my life and am excited to continue my career in the travel industry over the next 12 months and beyond.

 

I want to travel to 5 countries

 

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🚨My 2019 Year in Review is here!! 🚨 ((Link in bio)) My #topnine photos from 2019, a year which has seen me quit my job, do a travel writing internship at the Sunday Times, have my work published in a magazine, celebrate 5 years of blogging and get myself a brand new job in the travel industry which I absolutely love! 🌎 Not to mention seeing my all time faves Westlife and Spice Girls in concert, as well as watching Robbie Williams and Celine Dion along with 70,000 others in Hyde Park! 💃 2019 has also been my best ever year of travel, after I spent 6 weeks traveling around Australia and a further 6 weeks having holidays and taking work trips around Europe. Highlights include skydiving over Uluru, driving the Great Ocean Road, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, inter-railing round Spain, riding a gondola in Venice and doing Christmas markets in Riga. 🌟 8 trips abroad, 19 flights and 12 weeks travelling out of 52 weeks of the year, not bad huh ✈️ 2019, I think you might just have been my best year yet! Feeling so full of love and happiness for the past year, and the past decade, and I'm so grateful to have my amazing friends and family around me. I hope 2020 is even better ❤️ It took me 4 hours to put this blog post together – I hope you enjoy reading it! ✨

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I travelled to 7 countries in 2019 and 9 countries in 2018, so have done really well over the past couple of years, but I think that aiming to tick off 5 countries this year is definitely doable. I’m going to be really busy with work and saving up for a house this year, so I think some of my travel plans might have to take a back seat, but that’s not to say that I won’t be going on plenty of little mini trips throughout the year, so am confident I will still visit at least 5 countries! In terms of travel plans, the only thing I have set in stone at the moment is a trip back to Scotland to have a second atempt at climbing Ben Nevis! I am also bridesmaid for two weddings next year, for one of my best friends and one of my cousins, so I have 2 hen do’s to attend which will be lots of fun. I’d like to do a few European mini breaks and I am also hoping to squeeze in a Christmas markets interrailing trip around Poland in December with my sisters. Work sent me on two trips last year and I have only been here for six months, so I am hoping that in 2020 I may get to take a couple more work trips which would be amazing! I’d also really like to explore more of the UK this year, and am planning on heading back to Cornwall for the first time in 3 years which is seriously overdue! I’d also like to go back to York, and head over to Edinburgh and Cambridge for the first time if I can squeeze them in, so I’m hoping for another fun filled year of travel, but don’t think I’ll end up as far afield as Australia this year!

 

I want to start working out three times a week

 

 

I started this towards the end of last year, but then it was December which meant Christmas was coming and I just wanted to spend the entire month eating food and not worrying about exercise! However, I do think January is a great time to start new hobbies/make new promises, so I do really want to start working out three times a week to add some proper exercise into my life. I am not a gym person at all and can’t think of anything worse than running on a treadmill or doing spinning classes, but I experimented with some power walking and dance fitness videos last year and found a couple that I really liked, so I think I’m going to give them another go and try to stick to them this time! I am so unconfident with my looks at the moment, I definitely feel I have put on weight on my hips and stomach and on my face too, which I hate, so I really want to start incorporating exercise into my weekly routine this year so I feel fitter and stronger and look better. Fingers crossed I find a workout routine that works well for me – I also need to get my fitness up for Ben Nevis in May – wish me luck!

 

I want to start dating again

 

 

I’ve definitely lost confidence with dating recently. In fact, my last date was back in January 2019 which is a whole year ago! It feels a bit ridiculous that I’m writing this on my resolutions list to be honest, as I think sometimes things like this happen without thinking, and if something’s meant to be its meant to be, but I also think that you only get out of life what you put in, and I can’t sit around all year waiting for someone to just walk into my life! So I think in 2020 I am going to make a conscious effort to try and get out into the dating world again. I really really hate online dating, but it seems to be the only way that people meet at the moment, as I don’t go out in the evenings that much anymore and I’m always going away/making plans so I think I’m going to find it harder to meet guys if I’m not looking online as well. I don’t want to make promises and say that I’m definitely going to go looking for love and am going to start attending speed dating events or singles nights (as much as my mother would want me to!) but I’m just going to put myself out there a bit more and try to boost my confidence. Let’s see how this one turns out and, who knows, by the end of the year there may or may not be someone new in my life! If anyone knows any decent looking guys who love to travel, please send them my way?!

 

 

No matter what happens in 2020 I am going to try and be more present and content with life rather than getting bogged down with feeling like I constantly have to better myself, or comparing myself to others. I’m going to try not to worry about what everyone else is doing because everyone is different and life should be taken day by day, at your own pace rather than being determined by others actions. I get so upset sometimes worrying that I’ve not got a house or a husband or have had a baby like some of my friends and cousins have. I get upset that it hasn’t happened to me yet, that I’ve been single for nearly six years, that I’m so far away from all of those things happening to me when, really, it’s all I’ve ever wanted in life.

 

Everyone’s ‘decade challenges’ on social media have been filled with people saying that they went to uni, graduated with a degree, met the love of their life, got engaged, got married, bought a house, had three kids, got two dogs and a cat and had countless holidays to Disneyworld over the past ten years, but my decade has been very different to that. I didn’t go to uni, or get married and have kids, but I passed my A Levels, I’ve spent the past 8 years working full time, I’ve bought two cars, I’ve been diagnosed with a serious health condition and become a charity ambassador, I’ve saved up for a house deposit, I’ve travelled to 30 countries and I’ve ran a successful travel blog. My decade looks very different to lots of girls my age, but I’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter, because this is what I’ve achieved in my life, and what I am hugely proud of.

 

 

By the end of the next decade I will be 36 years old (OH MY GOD I WANT TO CRY AT THE THOUGHT OF APPROACHING 40!!!!) and I really hope that, by then, I will have achieved the other things I wanted to achieve this decade. I hope I’m happily married with a couple of kids, a dog, and a nice house and that I still love travel as much as I do now. I hope that I’m still super close with my family and friends, that I’ve still got a great job that will allow me to support my family but, most importantly, I hope that I am happy. Money doesn’t matter to me, only health and happiness. I hope my grandparents are still alive, I hope that my parents are still loving life, I hope that my future kids are healthy. I seem to have gone off on a tangent, and I guess this post has turned into more of a ‘hope for the next decade’ post rather than a 2020 resolutions one, but I’m just excited to see what the next ten years holds for me and everyone in my life. Whatever it holds for you, I hope it brings you happiness.

Happy new year (and new decade everyone!)

Love Jess x

PS. I wonder if I’ll still be blogging in ten years’ time, or if blogs will be a distant memory by then with social media taking over completely?! I bloody hope not!

 

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My 2019 Year in Review

 

Happy belated Christmas everyone!

I hope you’ve all had a fantastic festive season with your friends and family, and that you’ve been well and truly spoilt with gifts, food and fun. I’ve had a lovely few days at home with my family, enjoying Christmas and everything that comes with it. Now that the big day is out the way, I’m looking forward to celebrating a new year, and a new decade, and can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for me! Before that though, here’s my annual round up of my highlights throughout the year – it was certainly one of my biggest and best years to date! Here’s what I’ve got up to over the past 12 months, and how I got on with my 2019 New Years Resolutions too…

 

January & February

 

I had a great start to the year, with my sister Hannah surprising me with tickets to go and see Disney’s Aladdin on the West End for my 26th birthday! I had a magical day shopping, lunching and indulging in all things Disney with my sis, and it definitely made me want to see more West End shows. I also spent time with my friends, going out for dinner and having a games night in instead of doing a clubbing night out – defo showing my age now! January was also a special month as we got our new puppy Lola, a beautiful little Cavapoo who has brought so much joy to our lives this year. It snowed a lot at the end of Jan and Lola absolutely loved running around in it, feeling the soft white powder beneath her paws – what I would give to see snow again this winter!

 

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That's a wrap! My internship at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine has come to an end 💻 I've had a great couple of weeks learning about the world of journalism and I even got to write an article that got approved and will be published in the May issue of the magazine which means… MY NAME WILL BE IN PRINT! 🗞 It's been a great experience but I can't wait to come home – I'm not sure London life is meant for me as I've spent the majority of the time getting lost and ending up in places I didn't even know existed, and no one smiles or talks on the tube which makes it soooo lonely 😭 Until next time, London, I won't be back for a while! 👋 Ps. Omg forgot I'm there Tuesday to fly to Australia 😂✈️ #whatislife

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February also saw me quit my job at luxury travel firm at Abercrombie & Kent (where I had been working for the past 18 months) in order to take a leap of faith and try something new. I left my job on 15th February and did a two week travel writing internship at the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, learning all about the world of journalism at the News Building in London. I really enjoyed my internship, and even got one of my articles published in the May edition of the magazine, which is probably my biggest writing achievement to date!

 

March & April

 

March and April were my favourite months of the year as I spent them both exploring the beautiful country of Australia, and what an adventure I had! I travelled alone and was away for six weeks in total, going from Melbourne – Sydney and ticking off the likes of the Great Ocean Road, Adelaide, the Outback, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Brisbane and Bondi Beach along the way. I skydived over Uluru, camped under the stars in the Outback, snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef and took a scenic flight over Fraser Island, ticking sooo much off my Aussie bucket list! I made some wonderful friends, who I still speak to now, and had the most amazing time in Australia. It was honestly the best trip I have ever done – I was so sad about leaving and wish more than anything that I could return right this second. Australia – I will be back one day!

 

 

The rest of April saw me enjoy Easter at home with my family and spending time catching up with all my wonderful friends. I headed to Bristol at the end of the month for a charity gala night to celebrate 25 years of the Pituitary Foundation, who I of course am a proud ambassador for. I went with my mum and dad, their two friends and one of my best friends – we had all climbed Mount Snowdon together the year before so it was a lovely way to reunite and celebrate such a wonderful achievement for the charity.

 

May & June

 

May was a great month of travel for me, as I headed to Spain with my sister Hannah to embark on our Spanish interrailing adventure. We were away for 8 nights/9 days and spent time in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. We had a brilliant trip and absolutely loved visiting some of Spain’s most iconic cities. I loved Valencia and Barcelona for their beaches, ancient cathedrals and lively atmospheres, but I think Madrid was my favourite out of all three of them as I just loved the history and the authentic Tapas. My nan and grandad and aunty and uncle also came down to stay with us just after we got back from Spain, so it was lovely to spend time with them as I hadn’t seen them since before going to Australia and we had a lot to catch up on!

May also saw me head to the Lake District and Scotland with my mum and dad – we were heading up to climb Ben Nevis for the Pituitary Foundation and had a lovely break away, although my dad sadly broke his wrist whilst we were climbing the mountain so we didn’t make it to the top which we were absolutely GUTTED about! Later on in the month I headed to Cardiff with one of my besties to go and see the Spice Girls which was absolutely amazing and brought back allll the 90s feelings from when I was a little girl growing up! I also celebrated my five year blogging anniversary at the end of the month which is absolutely CRAZY – I can’t believe I am still blogging and am thankful every day for the amazing trips I’ve taken and the wonderful people I have met through my blog, I know for sure that my life would be very different without it!

 

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Happy #TravelTuesday everyone – I'm actually not travelling at the moment (for once) and you know what, I'm actually soooo happy about it! 🏡 I haven't spent more than 2 weeks at a time at home since February and have been on back to back trips since March, taking 10 flights in 3 months, and travelling thousands of miles across Australia, the UK and Europe which has made me bloody exhausted 😩 I know I shouldn't moan because I LOVE my life and I'm so lucky I get to travel so much, but all the constant running around from airport to airport and sleeping in different hotel beds every night has finally taken its toll and I've got so fed up with being on the road that I just want to have a base to come back to ✨ So I'm now totally ready to spend the next three months completely at home, as my next trip isn't until September, and focus on myself, my blog and something else which I haven't told you about yet but I will reveal all soon, I promise! 🙈 For now here's a pic of me loving life in sunny Italia and soaking up the stunning mountain views that were right behind me ⛰

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In June my lovely nan came down to stay with us for a week and it was sooo amazing to spend some quality time with her. We enjoyed lovely days out in the Cotswolds just as the weather was getting good and had so much to catch up on as, like with my other nan and grandad, I hadn’t seen her since before I left for Australia! June also saw me head to Italy for my 4th annual Traverse conference which, as you know, I attend every year! I headed over to Verona for two nights first, ticking off all the sights such as Romeo and Juliet’s Balcony, the Castel San Pietro and the impressive Arena – I really liked Verona and would definitely like to return one day to spend a bit more time there. After Verona I travelled onwards to the city of Trento, in the Dolomites, where the Traverse conference was being held. I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the region of Trentino and it was great to discover a part of Italy I knew nothing about, all whilst attending my fave travel conference and catching up with my fave blogger friends. At the end of June I also went to see Westlife for the 4th time with one of my besties and it was amazing – I love them so much and am already planning to see them again in 2020!

 

July & August

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New week, new month, new JOB! 😬 Eeeek been keeping this under wraps for a little while, but today's the day I start my brand new job at a luxury travel company in Witney. 🌎 I'm so excited to have swapped a 2hr daily commute for a drive that takes me just 8 minutes to get to my new office 🙈 Instead of finishing at 5:30 and not getting home til nearly 7 I'll actually be home before 5:30 which means I can actually have a social life in the evenings and can fit it around working part time on my blog too ❤️ So excited for my new chapter to begin, after 4 months of travelling and spending way too much money I can't wait to get into a proper routine again and start settling down (kind of 😉) Operation 'Jess is saving up for a house' has been resumed! 🏡 #MondayMotivation #NewJob #NewChapter #WishMeLuck

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July and August were a little quieter for me and I didn’t leave the country once (shock horror!) but I did have some exciting news which was that I started my brand new JOB at luxury travel firm Oxford Private Travel! I was so excited to start working again after 4 months off and was keen to take the next steps of my career in the travel industry. I also swapped a 2hour daily commute for just a 20 minute round trip compared to my last job, and I feel so much happier in my new role, which is much more varied than my last one – I’ve been there six months now and still love going into work every single day. July also saw me head to London’s Hyde Park for their British Summertime Festival two weekends in a row as I saw the legend that is Robbie Williams with my sister and the absolute Queen that is Celine Dion with my mum! I’d wanted to see them both since I was a little girl, and both concerts were absolutely amazing so I will definitely remember them forever.

 

 

August saw one of my friends I met in Australia come and visit me for a couple of nights which was so lovely. She’s from The Hague in the Netherlands so wanted to visit Oxford and do a Cotswolds trip – to which I was her tour guide and host for the weekend! I love the fact that travelling allows you to meet people from all walks of life who you’d never meet otherwise, and for that I will always be grateful as some of my best friends are people I met whilst I’ve been travelling! At the end of August I headed up to Liverpool for my cousins wedding and my nan’s 80th birthday which was an amazing, fun-filled, family weekend with all my nearest and dearest. During the bank holiday weekend I also went to The Big Feastival, an amazing show here in the Cotswolds which is brimming with food stalls, family entertainment and big name artists – I went with my two friends and their little girls and had such a lovely time!

 

September & October

 

September was a great month for blogging events as I headed to London for the inaugural Borderless Live event run by the Traverse team, and then up to Manchester the week after for the popular Blog at the Beach event with Ice Lolly Holiday. Normal travelling service had resumed by the time September came around, as I flew out to Sardinia for my first work trip. We stayed at the gorgeous Forte Village Resort and spent time doing site inspections and enjoying all the facilities that the resort had to offer, but what I loved most was just swimming in the sea and taking in all the beautiful surroundings. The next day after I got home I was straight back to the airport to head on a girls holiday with my friend and two sisters to Vilamoura – it was my first time in Portugal and I was so excited! Vilamoura certainly didn’t disappoint and we had a great week enjoying the glitzy marina, swimming in the sea and checking out the fantastic waterpark. The day after we got back from Vilamoura we went up to Liverpool for my cousins baby shower which was a lovely family filled day.

 

 

October saw me take my second work trip in just 2 months, and my 6th visit to Italy in less than 3 years, as I headed to Venice as part of a travel agent fam trip. I only spent two nights there but had a great time seeing lots of hotels and taking part in excursions including visiting a gondola workshop, seeing the hidden gardens in the city and taking a boat trip over to the nearby islands of Murano and Burano. Despite visiting Venice for the first time back in 2016 (and not falling in love with it as much as I thought I would) I actually really enjoyed my second time in the city and had a much better experience this time round! In October I also took a first aid course (and passed) so I’m now a fully qualified first aider which is great and I also popped into Oxford for an evening with the Pituitary Foundation to listen to Professor John Wass, the founder of the charity, give an interesting speech. I also did a couple of blog reviews at The Botanist, Cheltenham and The Ivy, Oxford which were great evenings out, saw Grease the Musical in Oxford and I went to Brighton with two of my besties for a fun girly weekend!

 

November & December 

 

In November I went to WTM London for the third time, but this time with work rather than as a blogger which was totally different! I had back to back meetings all day and not much free time but still managed to catch up briefly with a few of my fave blogger pals who I hadn’t seen since Traverse in June or Borderless Live in September. November also saw me heading to our local fireworks display for Bonfire Night, and popping into Oxford for my work Christmas party which I had the task of organising and, luckily, a great night was had by all! At the end of November I took my sister Sophie to nearby Blenheim Palace in Woodstock for their annual Christmas at Blenheim event which was even better than last year’s one! The Alice in the Palace was beautiful, the illuminated lights trail was spectacular and we left feeling truly festive.

 

 

At the start of December I attended Sudeley Castle’s Spectacle of Light event in Winchcombe, near Cheltenham, with my sister and parents – we had a lovely festive evening and it was just what we needed to kick-start our December! A week later my sister Hannah and I headed to the beautiful Baltic city of Riga for a Christmas Markets break and we had the most wonderfully festive weekend. I actually won this trip in a competition I entered whilst at Traverse 19 in Trento back in June, which was sponsored by Magnetic Latvia. We had a fantastic time in Latvia and I couldn’t think of a better place to tick off my 30th country, which was a definite travel milestone for me! Of course December has also brought Christmas, a quiet one at home with family this year, and I’m excited to be heading to Cheltenham for a 1920s Great Gatsby themed party on New Years Eve so I can see in 2020 in style!

 

My 2019 New Years Resolutions

At the start of the year you might remember that I set my 2019 New Years Resolutions, and I always love to reflect and look back, so here’s how I got on…

 

Go Veggie for 1 month – SUCCESS – I actually kept this up for an entire SIX MONTHS instead of just for 1 month which I am really proud of myself for. Unfortunately I am still having problems with my tummy, and think that my constant bloating and stomach pains may be something to do with my ovaries instead of being food related, so I am going to investigate this further but I definitely didn’t miss meat at all during my 6 months of being veggie and have only recently started eating chicken in order to get more protein into my diet – I still avoid red meat and don’t eat fish at all so I’ve done really well with this resolution, and it was much easier than I thought!

 

Visit 7 countries – SUCCESS – I managed to tick off Australia, Abu Dhabi, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Italy (x3) and Latvia during my 2019 travels so I am really glad I was successful at this one! As a travel blogger, ticking off countries is a big deal for me, so I’m going to try and visit as many as I can each year and already can’t wait to see where my 2020 travels take me!

 

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*NEW BLOG POST* ((Link in bio)) How to spend a day in #Verona 🇮🇹 Back in June I spent a very short time running around Italy's city of love ticking off alllll the sights as quickly as I could! 🌎 If, like me, you're on limited time during your flying visit to Verona, check out my travel guide to make the most of your day in this beautiful city and see some of the top sights including the Verona Arena, Ponte Pietra and Juliet's Balcony 😍 This pic was taken at the top of Castel San Pietro, a hillside fortress which can be reached on foot if you're active, or by funicular if you're feeling tired (like me) and offers some of the best views of Verona ✨ . . . #traveltuesday #travelblogger #travel #travelgram #uktravelbloggers #lonelyplanet #mytinyatlas #darlingescapes #veronaitaly #veronainlove #igersverona #insta_verona #veronacity #veronapictures #italy #italia #igersitaly #italytravel #topitalyphoto #italy_vacations #europe #europetravel #europe_pics #europe_tourist #europe_greatshots #citybreak #citypics #citylife #cityscape

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Read 2-3 books a month – SUCCESS – I have been really good at this one and read a whopping 24 books this year, which is bang on 2 books a month! I am really glad I have been able to do this as I absolutely love reading and have spent more time focusing on this instead of scrolling on my phone, so that’s a definite positive!

 

Take a leap of faith – SUCCESS – I was really vague about this when I set this resolution at the start of the year, but it was because I already knew what it was, I just couldn’t tell you as I hadn’t given in my notice at work! This year, my leap of faith was to quit my job and travel around Australia, and I did exactly that! I’m really proud of myself for pushing myself out of my comfort zone, leaving a job I was unhappy in and travelling the other side of the world on my own. Life is too short to be unhappy, so take a leap of faith and follow your dreams before it’s too late!

 

 

Reach 10,000 social media followers – FAIL – I tried this one last year and failed, and sadly I didnt manage to achieve it this year either. I’m now on 9344 followers across all social media platforms, so I’m not a million miles away, but I would have loved to reach my 10,000 milestone in 2019. Ah well, maybe next year I will finally get this one!

 

Make time to meditate – FAIL – Bad news, I didn’t get this one either, but it’s because I am so flipping busy all the time I never have time to sit down and meditate! I have obviously spent more time reading books this year though, so I’m taking that as a positive and not worrying that I haven’t meditated because you can’t do everything, right?!

 

What I want from 2020

 

If I’m honest I’m really not sure what I want from 2020. This year surpassed all my wildest dreams as I travelled for 13 weeks of the year, got a new job which I absolutely love, spent time with family and friends and saw some incredible concerts which I will remember forever! I’m just grateful to have had a really wonderful 12 months after a difficult 2018. The only thing I really want to achieve is to buy a house – I’ve wanted to move out for a while and have finally got a decent deposit saved up, so I’m confident that 2020 will be the year I finally get on the property ladder! Other than that though, I just want to continue taking little trips throughout the year and hopefully I’ll get sent on some more amazing work trips too!

I will most likely write up my 2020 New Years Resolutions in January so will share them with you when I’m ready and have thought more about what I want to acheive from the year ahead. Until then though, I hope you’re all still enjoying the festive period and that you have a happy and healthy start to 2020. Happy New Year everyone – thank you as always for reading my little blog, I love that I can still share my life updates with you five years after starting Journeys with Jessica – long may it continue!

Love Jess x

 

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Lush green mountains, sunny blue skies and glorious countryside views, this is what I love most about the beautiful #LakeDistrict ⛰ I didn't go abroad until I was 8 years old and spent many half term holidays up here with my sisters, so Lakeland is a huge part of my childhood and I have fond memories running up and down hills, chasing sheep in fields and having fun with my family ❤️ One year we even ended up getting lost on a mountain when my mum thought we were following yellow arrows on stones and sticking to a proper pathway but it turned out to just be yellow MOSS that she was following and we had been going round in circles for 8 hours!! 😂 A phone call to Mountain Rescue got 3 kids, 2 adults and 1 dog back on the straight and narrow but it took us forever to get off that bloody mountain and I never wanted to see another one for weeks after that 🙈 Luckily I started to love them again as I got older, and now they hold a special place in my heart and help me to appreciate all the natural beauty we have right here in England 🇬🇧 Do you have a silly travel story? I'd love to hear them on this chilled Sunday evening! ✨

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A Little Life Update: What’s New For 2019

Hi everyone,

I’m not quite sure how it’s the middle of July all of a sudden, time is FLYING by more than ever this year and the last six months have certainly been a whirlwind! I thought I’d just do a little life update post for you as I try to do these a few times throughout the year, just to inject a bit more personality into my blog, and to break up all the travel content that I constantly seem to be churning out! As we are well into July, I thought now would be a good time to take a step back and see how things have been going, and to update you on some big life changes too! Here goes…

I quit my job & spent 4 months travelling and blogging full time

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This is the face of a girl who's just finished her last Monday at work! 😬😬 Really excited to share some news with you all… 🙈 1. I'm quitting my job (again) sorry mum 😂 2. I've been offered an internship at the Sunday Times Travel Magazine to see how the world of journalism works! Roll on 2 weeks in London for lots of learning 💻 3. In March I'm off to travel round Australia all by myself! This trip is an absolute dream come true and I can't wait to spend 6 weeks exploring the other side of the world 🇦🇺 After that I've got trips to Scotland, Spain, Italy & Greece lined up between May & September so I've got another busy year of travel coming up and I couldn't be more excited! 🌍 I've taken another leap of faith to give myself a better and brighter future and I'm soooo ready for my new chapter to begin!! 2019, let's do thissss 🙌 #MondayMotivation #NewBeginnings #BringItOn

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After deciding I was going to hand my notice in at work in January, I left my full time job at luxury travel firm Abercrombie and Kent in February in order to backpack around Australia. Before that though, I spent 2 weeks in London interning at The Sunday Times Travel Magazine which was super fun! My month and a half in Australia was totally life changing and I had the best trip ever travelling from Melbourne – Sydney and everywhere in between! I blogged full time from March-June whilst also visiting Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, Scotland, the Lake District, Verona and Trento after I returned from Oz in April, so I’ve certainly had a busy few months of travel!

I got a new puppy

Eeeek as well as backpacking my way around Australia, this was another one of the most exciting things to happen this year – we got a frigging PUPPY!!! Lola is a cavapoo pup which means she’s crossed with a cavalier spaniel and a miniature poodle. She was 9 weeks old when we got her and was the tiniest little bundle of fluff, but now she’s a spritely 8 month old who loves walkies, cuddles and running around the house chewing everything in sight! She has bought so much joy into our lives after we lost our beautiful Westie Cassie back in 2017 and we can’t imagine our lives without Lola now!

I celebrated my 5 year blog anniversary

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Sooo I just wanted to come on here and let you all know that Journeys with Jessica celebrated its 5th birthday this week! 5th!! That is CRAZYYYY! 😱 I remember when I started my little blog, back in 2014, when I was 21 years old and my world had just been turned upside down for all the wrong reasons. An awful relationship break up left me with no motivation, no energy, no desire to carry on and make something of my life. For 3 months I barely ate or slept. I was broken and didn't think I'd ever be happy again, until I started to travel and I started my blog. I didn't know it back then, but the decision I made to start travelling actually changed my life. 🌎 Instead of wallowing in self pity and worrying about trying to change the past, I started to look forward. I started to plan trips, book short weekend stays and long weeks away, and I started to live again. I couldn't fall in love with anyone else, but I did fall in love with travelling, and to this day it's been the best decision I've ever made. ❤️ I've driven across Route 66 in America, rode the Great Ocean Road in Australia, inter-railed around Europe, cruised around the Med and visited 28 countries by the age of 26. I've helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, parasailed on Daytona Beach, been on a gondola in Venice, climbed the Eiffel Tower, skydived over Uluru, flew over Fraser Island and snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef. Sometimes I can't believe how much I've done and I have to pinch myself that this has been my life. 🎉 So if anyone out there is ever feeling like I did 5 years ago, or if you're not sure where your life is heading and need to make some changes, I urge you to travel. To discover new places, to meet new faces, to live a different life. 5 years from now I hope I'm still in love with travel, that I'm going to more countries than ever before and that I'm even happier than I am now. 🌟

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Back in May I celebrated my little blog turning 5 years old and I still can’t quite believe it. Who’d have ever thought that my little space on the internet would ever reach the grand old age of 5?! I certainly never thought it would happen, especially when I only set it up as a way of documenting my travels so my mum and dad could read them. Fast forward half a decade and my blog now attracts over 7000 page views each month, with almost 10,000 followers on social media. My blog has been a consistent source of income; I’ve been paid for my writing for the past 4 years, I’ve worked with brands on sponsored posts and campaigns and I’ve even been sent on press trips and attended travel conferences, meeting people that I simply would never have met if it wasn’t for my blog. What a 5 years it’s been – roll on the next 5, I can’t wait to see what new heights my blog will reach next!

I won a trip to Riga

Off the back of attending my 4th annual Traverse conference in Italy in June, I was lucky enough to win a trip to the beautiful city of Riga with tourism board Magnetic Latvia who were one of the sponsors this year. I have always wanted to visit Latvia, and Riga in particular, so I was absolutely over the moon when I found out that I’d won free flights and a hotel stay in the quirky Baltic capital. I’m not sure when I’ll be heading to Riga yet, although I’ve got my sights set on December so I can pair it with a Christmas Market visit too. Have you ever been to Riga before? Send me all your blog posts please!

I’ve bagged myself a brand new job

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New week, new month, new JOB! 😬 Eeeek been keeping this under wraps for a little while, but today's the day I start my brand new job at a luxury travel company in Witney. 🌎 I'm so excited to have swapped a 2hr daily commute for a drive that takes me just 8 minutes to get to my new office 🙈 Instead of finishing at 5:30 and not getting home til nearly 7 I'll actually be home before 5:30 which means I can actually have a social life in the evenings and can fit it around working part time on my blog too ❤️ So excited for my new chapter to begin, after 4 months of travelling and spending way too much money I can't wait to get into a proper routine again and start settling down (kind of 😉) Operation 'Jess is saving up for a house' has been resumed! 🏡 #MondayMotivation #NewJob #NewChapter #WishMeLuck

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If all of this wasn’t enough to take on in my life, I only went and got a brand new job too! On the 1st of July I started a new role at Oxford Private Travel, a luxury travel company specialising in tailor made holiday itineraries. It’s similar to my last job at Abercrombie & Kent, although I’ll be dealing with all types of holidays across the world, rather than just being a European villas specialist. I’m on my 4th week at work now and time is absolutely flying by! I’m loving it so much and the role is so varied, allowing me to deal with clients directly and host supplier meetings as well as being responsible for product and even website content meaning I can be creative and throw some writing into my day job rather than just saving it for my blog life. I’ve settled into the team really well, attending a few summer events already and even being asked to join the Social Committee! I feel so happy and content and having no commute (10 min drive as opposed to a 1hr drive in my last job) means I can actually have a social life and do things in the evenings like catch up with friends or focus on my blog. After I got back from Australia I wasn’t sure whether I should continue with the freelance stuff, get a new office job or start a completely new career, but I’ve definitely made the right choice in continuing in the travel industry and I’m super excited to see where this next chapter will take me.

Quite a lot has happened in my little life over the past 6 months, and it’s certainly been one hell of a ride! I spent so much time travelling between February and June (I wasn’t home for more than two weeks at a time for 4 months) and, whilst I don’t regret any of it at all, it’s made me realise I get burnt out so much when I travel and sometimes it’s nice to spend some time at home and take stock of everything once in a while. I am incredibly lucky to have travelled as much as I have done, but right now I want to spend some time at home and focus on building my savings back up so I can look to move out and get my own place within the next 12 months. It’ll mean that I have to cut down on spending, and that means I’ll no doubt have to stop travelling as much, but we all have to make sacrifices in order to achieve things we desperately want, so if not spending as much means I can afford to move out then so be it!

The next life update I write will be at the end of the year, when I’ll be sharing my 2019 round up and letting you know how I got on with my New Years Resolutions that were made back in January. In terms of trips, I’ve got weekends in Manchester, London and Brighton coming up as well as potentially a sunny week in Portugal, a Christmas market trip to Riga and my first work trip to either Menorca or Sardinia – exciting! I don’t want to wish time away so I hope it goes slowly, but in the meantime stay tuned for tonnes more Australia and Europe content from my recent travels coming right up!

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Happy #TravelTuesday everyone – I'm actually not travelling at the moment (for once) and you know what, I'm actually soooo happy about it! 🏡 I haven't spent more than 2 weeks at a time at home since February and have been on back to back trips since March, taking 10 flights in 3 months, and travelling thousands of miles across Australia, the UK and Europe which has made me bloody exhausted 😩 I know I shouldn't moan because I LOVE my life and I'm so lucky I get to travel so much, but all the constant running around from airport to airport and sleeping in different hotel beds every night has finally taken its toll and I've got so fed up with being on the road that I just want to have a base to come back to ✨ So I'm now totally ready to spend the next three months completely at home, as my next trip isn't until September, and focus on myself, my blog and something else which I haven't told you about yet but I will reveal all soon, I promise! 🙈 For now here's a pic of me loving life in sunny Italia and soaking up the stunning mountain views that were right behind me ⛰

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