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My 2018 Destination Bucket List

 

So I know we are well and truly in to 2018 now, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my upcoming travel plans for the year ahead and am itching to get away! I haven’t travelled since last September, just before I started my new full time job, which is a really long time for someone who usually takes at least one trip a month. I am restricted to annual leave this year for the first time since 2016, so I know it’s going to be tricky to tick lots off my bucket list, but if anyone can be cheeky and use their AL to the max then it’s most definitely me ๐Ÿ˜‰ So after all this travel talk I was caught by surprise when the guys over at Destination2 challenged me to put together my ultimate 2018 bucket list and, naturally, I jumped at the chance to share my upcoming bucket list plans with you all…

 

Paris, France

 

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So today I booked my hotel for beautiful #Paris which is the first stop on my upcoming European inter-railing adventure and it feels oh so real now! ๐Ÿš‚ My sister and I are heading to the French capital to devour allllll the croissants, walk along the many winding streets and soak up epic views like this from the top of the Eiffel Tower ๐Ÿ—ผ This photo was taken on my first and only visit to the city back in 2013 when I had just one full day there to whizz around like a crazy person and see as much as I possibly could whilst on a day trip from Disneyland ๐Ÿฐ This time round I plan on seeing the sights, taking strolls along the Seine and finding the most Instagrammable places in town ๐Ÿ“ธ Have you been to the city of love before? Send me your recommendations! ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท #IgersParis #IgersFrance #VisitFrance #VisitParis #JessDoesEurope

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My first trip of 2018 will take me to the City of Love, beautiful Paris, somewhere I’ve been before but only for a day trip and I absolutely cannot WAIT to go back! I spent my first visit running around like a headless chicken trying to see the sights and tick off as much as possible, but there is SO much to see and do that it obviously can’t be done in such little time. I’m heading to Paris at the start of April with my sister as we hop on the Eurostar from London and embark upon an inter-railing adventure that’ll take us to France, Luxembourg and Belgium. I actually haven’t left the country since going back to full time work in September and I am literally just itching to get away with every day that passes. Kick-starting my inter-railing adventure in Paris will be so much fun, and a great start to the trip. We’re staying close to the River Seine and the Notre Dame, so we are hoping to tick off those as well as wander down the Champs Elysee, see the Arc de Triomph, climb the Eiffel Tower and visit The Louvre, the Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge too. I cant wait to get back to the French capital and I couldn’t think of a better place to kick off my 2018 travel plans.

 

Bruges, Belgium

 

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It's that time of year where I'm thinking of my upcoming travel plans for 2018 and I've got such itchy feet! ๐Ÿ‘ฃ I haven't been out the country since September, which is soooo long for me especially as I've spent the past year and a half taking at least 1 trip a month! I'm starting to go abit crazy as I haven't travelled for so long, and I just want to hop on a plane, or train, and get back to exploring โœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿš‚๐ŸŒ I don't have long to wait until my first trip of the year though as I'm going interrailing (again) over the Easter period. My sister and I are starting in #Paris and ending up in the beautiful Belgian city of #Bruges – somewhere I have wanted to visit for agessss! ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช We can't wait to wander round the old town, see the beautiful belfry and eat allll the chocolate waffles ๐Ÿ˜‹ Have you ever been to Bruges before? Send me all your tips! ๐Ÿ“ธ – my lovely pal @ambermarie1912 . . . #travel #travelblogger #travelblog #interrailing #europe #city #citybreak #travelgram #instatravel #darlingescapes #explore #travelmoment #igersbruges #brugge #belgium #igerseurope

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After visiting Paris and Luxembourg, the third and final stop of my inter-railing adventure will be the fairytale Belgian city of Bruges and I am equally as excited for this place as I am for Paris. There’s just something about Bruges which looks so magical, especially the gothic architecture, the picturesque river and the vibrant market square. We plan to hit up the museums, wander along the river and check out the historic buildings including the City Hall, Belfry, Basilica of the Holy Blood Church and St Salvator’s Cathedral. We’re going to be eating copious amounts of crepes and waffles and chocolate whilst we’re there and plan on doing this every single day! We’re also hoping we might be able to squeeze in quick day trips to both Ghent and Brussels too whilst we are on the way back to London via the Eurostar, as I’ve heard great things about both cities and it’s always nice to tick even MORE things off my ever expanding bucket list!

 

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

 

 

After spending a week inter-railing in April, my next trip at the end of May will take me on my first visit to the Netherlands and I’m looking forward to visiting my 23rd country! I’ll be in Rotterdam for 3 nights for the annual Traverse conference, a fantastic event which connects brands and bloggers from all over the world. The final schedule for the conference hasn’t been released yet, but I’ll be at the opening party on the Friday night, then at the conference all weekend before flying home on bank holiday Monday. I haven’t heardย  a lot about Rotterdam so I have no idea what to expect but I know it’s a super cool city with lots to see and do. I’m actually using the Eurostar AGAIN on this trip as I’ll be spending one day and one night in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam before heading over to Holland’s second city. I have wanted to visit Amsterdam for soooo long and I’m super excited I’ll be there this year, even if it is only for a short amount of time!

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

 

I’ll be having a few months break in between my trips in May and then subsequently in August, when I’ll be taking my first EVER cruise! Ahhh I’m both nervous and excited in equal measure as I get ridiculously travel sick (especially on boats) but I’m hoping that the ship will be so huge I won’t feel anything and I’ll be completely fine… *fingers crossed!* My cruise is a trip around the med and, after starting in Croatia, I’ll be heading to Malta, Sicily, Greece and Montenegro. I am so intrigued as to what the cruise will be like and how I will find it, especially as I’ve never spent any length of time at sea before! I’m looking forward to lots of sun, sea, food and drink though as I spend a whole seven days relaxing. Kicking off in Croatia will be wonderful and Dubrovnik, with its ancient city walls and historic buildings, is somewhere I’ve been dying to visit.

 

Valletta, Malta

 

 

The second stop of my cruise will the Maltese capital of Valletta and I’ve heard so many great things about this place. Listed as the 2018 European Capital of Culture, I think Malta is seriously underrated and is the perfect place for a quirky, alternative city break. Like with most of the places on my cruise, I only have one full day to explore but I’m definitely going to walk around the city walls and see as much as I can. There will be sun, sea, history and culture aplenty in Valletta and it’ll be another new country for me to tick off too. My cruise is a family holiday with 13 of my crazy family members and I am sooo excited for us to all be together and make tonnes of new memories!

 

Mykonos, Greece

 

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This is a little different to my last few posts, but are you dreaming of blue skies, bright sunshine and warm sands? Yep, me too! โ˜€๏ธLuckily there's a brand new, wanderlust inducing post on the blog coming soon and it's all about my 2018 Bucketlist ๐ŸŒThe list includes multiple city breaks round Europe, a Mediterranean cruise and I've been daydreaming about a beach holiday to somewhere like this beautiful place.. hands up who's been to #Mykonos before?! ๐Ÿ™‹ Sadly I haven't yet, but I'm hoping to visit this Greek gem one day! ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ“ธ- my work BFF @schipps88 . . . #travel #travelblog #travelblogger #wanderlust #worlderlust #inspo #inspire #travelgram #instago #travelphotography #beautifuldestinations #darlingescapes #ig_captures #europe #greece #mykonos #igersmykonos #igersgreece #luxurytravel #travelmoment #tourism #igtourism #travelbug #instatravel #instapassport #europe_vacations #turismo

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The Greek party capital and somewhere that is fast becoming the new Ibiza, Mykonos is Europe’s answer to paradise. With it’s crystal clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches and endless infinity pools, Mykonos has it all. Since starting my new job as a villa rental co-ordinator, Mykonos is one of the destinations I look after and I’m hoping that I might be able to go on a fam trip to the island this year to inspect our existing villa portfolio. There’s something about the Greek island that just screams luxury and I would love to spend a few days exploring the island and seeing what it has to offer. Spectacular sunsets are on the cards most evenings, and I know Mykonos is famed for its rocky landscape too. Here’s hoping I can take a trip to this pretty place at some point during 2018, if work allows me too of course!

 

Lisbon, Portugal

 

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Perfect Lisbon!๐ŸŒ‡๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ“ทAwesome shot by @favio_patino โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € . ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡นMark your photo with tag #Lisbonworld and we`ll post it! โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ €โ € โ € โ € #lisbon #lisboa #lisbona #portugal #igerslisboa #lisboa #igersportugal #passionpassport #bestvacations #bbctravel #picoftheday #instagood #photooftheday #TopEuropePhoto #europe_vacations #living_europe #travel #travelgram #travelblog #instapassport #instatravel #instatraveling #lisbonlovers #lisbona #lisbonne #lisboalivestyle

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The Portugese capital of Lisbon is somewhere I was supposed to visit a couple of years ago, but sadly I never got round to booking my flights and it just didn’t happen. My parents actually met on holiday in Portugal over 25 years ago, when they were both young and carefree and enjoyed a real life holiday romance (it lead to marriage and three kids, so it does happen guys!) so I think I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for a long time. Lisbon looks super cool, unusual, vibrant and I’m sure there’s plenty of history to uncover too. I’ve also heard it’s got a brilliant foodie scene and I think it’d be a great place to go for an autumnal city break later on in the year. Although I don’t have any firm plans to visit Lisbon yet this year, I always see cheap flights on Skyscanner and I’m sure I can squeeze in a cheeky weekend away before the year is out!

 

As you can see, I’m quite ambitious with this year’s bucket list and I’m only 70% sure that I’m going to get to visit some of these places. I certainly won’t be able to do them all, but what can I say? I like to aim high! My firm travel plans include my European inter-railing adventure in April, my long weekend exploring the Netherlands in May and my Mediterranean Cruise in August, but after that who knows?! I’m hoping to try and squeeze in a couple of short UK mini breaks this year too as I still haven’t been to Dublin and Edinburgh yet (bad Brit, I know) and I love to make the most of my weekends whilst I’m working full time. Where are you hoping to head to this year? Let me know as I want to hear all your plans! Don’t forget to check out the wonderful Destinations2 website and blog for plenty of travel inspo over the next 12 months…

Love Jess x

NB. This post was brought to you in collaboration with Destinations2, but as always all thoughts are of course my own.

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Why I’m nervous about turning 25…

 

Happy Blue Monday everyone… Today is officially the most depressing day of the year! The weathers miserable outside, we’re all skint after Christmas and pay day feels like FOREVER AWAY. January is notoriously difficult for lots of people for lots of reasons, but I’ve always been a fan of Jan as its my birth month and I get so excited to have something to look forward to after Christmas! This year though, I feel completely different, and here’s a few reasons why…

So tomorrow is my 25th birthday. The big 2-5. Halfway to 50. Officially in the mid 20s. When the hell did THAT happen?! It only seems like yesterday I was running around in nappies, or running to get the school bus cos I was late, or running out of a club at the end of a night out as celebrated numerous birthdays past the age of 18. It’s true what they say, time goes by so fast, and I notice it more with each year that passes.

 

Why can’t I be this small and sparkly again ๐Ÿ˜ญ

 

Im usually excited about my birthday, I am excited about tomorrow as I’ve got an amazing day planned with my friends and family, but the age thing is really getting to me this time round. Last night I had a bit of a rant on Twitter – I was actually crying as I posted the thread – and I got a few things out my system.

 

Head to my Twitter @jessica16_x to see my little rant

 

By the age of 25, I always thought I’d have my life figured out. I thought I’d be married, or at least engaged, and I thought I’d have had my first baby by now. I thought I’d have bought a house, got on the property ladder, put down some roots. I thought all of these things because that’s what my mum did, and my two nans, and my aunties. By the age of 25 they’d all got married and had two kids. They’d bought a house, they had a family, and they were happy. I look at what my mum had and compare it to what I’ve got now and I just feel so incomplete. I don’t fit in to what she did, in fact I’ve never felt further away from it in my life. I’ve not met anyone I want to committ to, I’m nowhere near ready to buy a house and I’m definitely not close to having kids and that’s something that upsets me the most. Anyone that knows me will know that all I’ve ever really wanted to do in life is be a mum, and being so far away from that life at the moment is something that plays on my mind daily.

 

Love you mum – I hope I make you proud ๐Ÿ’–

 

All my friends are either married/engaged/in long term relationships. Most of them have bought houses or are renting together and are either expecting children or are parents already. I’m so so different to them and it scares me. Yes I love my little life and travelling has and always will be my passion, and I’m so happy I can just hop on a plane without having to take a buggy or a changing kit with me, but deep down I know all I want is to have the family life my mum had and still has.

 

A lot has changed for us girls in the past 25 years. We have more opportunities now, we work more, we travel more and we see more of the world. I love that, and I’m proud to be born into an era where those things are normal. Looking at what I have achieved in my short 24 years on this planet does make me proud – I’ve ticked so many incredible things off my bucket list, bought 2 cars, built a career for myself and my blog and become a charity ambassador too. I’ve travelled by myself, made friends with strangers, faced my fears and pushed myself to the limit and I’ve done all those things with enormous pride and happiness, but I still feel apprehensive about turning 25 tomorrow for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above.

 

Looking at what I have done, not what I haven’t done, gives me my greatest sense of achievement

 

I think as we near 30 we worry that we haven’t got out life figured out yet – I know I certainly haven’t! I always thought I’d find someone straight away and that I’d live happily ever after, but I guess my fairytale just hasn’t happened yet…

 

So all in all I am looking forward to having a nice day with my nearest and dearest tomorrow, but I’m scared because I just don’t want to be another year older, and another year further from all the things I thought I’d have by now. Does anyone else get the quarter life crisis/ mid 20s anxiety? Quite a lot of you tweeted me yesterday after I had my little Twitter rant and your comments meant so much to me. Let me know if you’re feeling the way I’m feeling right now – it would be nice to know I’m not alone!

 

Love Jess X

 

I don’t know what’s next for me as I enter my 25th year, but here’s to making it an amazing 2018 ๐ŸŒŸ

 

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Happy New Year! My 2018 Resolutions

 

Happy new year everyone!

Welcome to my first post of 2018! It’s my first post of many for January and, given that weโ€™re celebrating the start of a new month and a new year, Iโ€™m kicking off with a traditional resolutions tick list for you! If you read my 2017 resolutions post last January (how has it been a year already since that was published?!) youโ€™ll know that Iโ€™m a big fan of making new yearโ€™s resolutions, and I do actually stick to them, promise! Last year I vowed to:

  • visit 10 countries (TICK)
  • grow my blog as much as possible (TICK)
  • get a part time job (TICK)
  • start spending more time with family and friends (TICK)
  • spend less time on social media (FAIL) – ooooops
  • stop buying scratch-cards (SEMI-FAIL) – these two were harder than I thought!

Iโ€™m really proud that I managed to achieve most of these things within a year, and even more so that I managed to surpass my expectations by visiting 11 countries instead of 10, got a part time job to run alongside my freelance business and then landed my dream full time position and started my career in the travel industry, and grew my blog to the biggest itโ€™s ever been, going on press trips and working with some incredible brands.

All in all, 2017 was a pretty amazing year for me, but as one year ends another one begins and this brings me on to my resolutions for 2018. Iโ€™m already thinking ahead to the next few months and am super excited to fill in the empty pages of my new chapter for this new year. Here are my 2018 resolutionsโ€ฆ

 

Visit at least 5 countries

 

 

Last year I was lucky enough to visit a whopping 11 countries as I embarked on my greatest year of travel yet as a full time blogger and freelancer, but this year I have annual leave restrictions that I need to be careful of, so that will definitely impact on how many trips I can take! I’ve already got two trips planned and am in the process of planning a third which will take a few weeks to get organised. My first holiday will (hopefully) be an inter-railing trip starting in Paris and Luxembourg and ending in Brussels and Bruges – I’m really excited to go inter-railing for a third time and can’t wait to finalise everything for this week-long European adventure with my sister! I’m then going to be hopping over to Amsterdam and Rotterdam with some of my fellow blogger friends for my third annual Traverse conference and I’m soooo excited that it’s going to be held outside of the UK this year for the first time ever! My next holiday will be a cruise round the Mediterranean taking in the sights of Croatia, Malta, Sicily, Greece and Montenegro. I’ve never been on a cruise before and I’m nervous/excited in equal measures but can’t wait to see how the week unfolds, and I’m going with 13 of my crazy family members, so whatever happens I’m sure it’ll be a week to remember. I’m sure that more last minute trips will pop up over the course of the next 12 months, but I’ll definitely be making use of my weekends off as well!

 

Reach 10,000 followers across my social channels

 

It's the last day of 2017 and I'm reflecting on everything that has happened in my little life over the past 12 months… My highlights include press trips to #Spain #Switzerland and #Germany with my blog, a holiday to #Tenerife and my #European interrailing adventures. ๐ŸŒ I celebrated my 24th birthday, freelanced full time, took 17 flights to 11 countries, bought a new car, started my career in the travel industry with my new job, opened a help to buy account to start saving for a house, became a charity ambassador and shared my story with the national newspapers, went on countless day trips, weekends away and nights out with my friends and family and pushed myself to say YES to things and make the most of every minute. ๐ŸŒŸ Sadly I've ended on a low note after losing my beautiful Cassie, but she is in a better place and she'll remain in my heart forever ๐Ÿ’– I'm so grateful that I've got amazing friends and family and am surrounded by love each and every day. 2017 has taught me a lot and has brought me so much, but I'm so excited to see how 2018 will top it and can't wait to see what the future brings. Happy new year everyone, here's to making every second count! ๐ŸŽ‰ #2017bestnine #HappyNewYear #2017

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This is going to be a HUGE milestone and I really hope that it’s something I can achieve within the next year. Currently, I have 4200 Twitter followers, 1800 on Instagram, 600 on Linked In and 540 on Facebook, so I’ve got a long way to go before I hit my target of 10,000! I do think it’s going to take a lot of effort and hard work to get it done, but I love a challenge and am determined to make this happen, plus my stats on my media kit are going to look pretty damn good if I finally reach the big 10k!

 

Spend less time on social media

 

 

Ok, ok, so I know this is massively contradictory to my last resolution, but I want to try and spend less time on social media on aย personal level, although I want to grow the followers for my blog as much as possible. I have a constant obsession with logging on to my apps, refreshing the news feeds and scrolling aimlessly for hours, consuming irrelevant content about things which mean absolutely nothing to me. It’s something we are all guilty of, but the constant scrolling is what really gets me down and I know I really need to stop. I’ve made a good start by deleting my apps and muting all of my notifications, so now I only get bothered when someone texts or calls me! My accounts are still active but I’m going to try and post less and, in turn, scroll less too. I also want to read more books and so, whenever I get the urge to scroll during the ad break of my fave TV show, or during a quiet 5 minutes on my lunch break, I’m going to read chapters of my books instead and keep my mind occupied on something more productive.

 

Work on new projects for The Pituitary Foundation

 

 

As part of my role as an ambassador for UK charity The Pituitary Foundation, I’m trying to raise as much money and awareness as I possibly can for an organisation which has been hugely important to me since my own prolactinoma diagnosis back in 2011. I became an ambassador last summer and have already taken part in a fun run, national newspaper campaign and a Go Orange event in order to raise awareness of the charity. This year I’d like to step it up a notch and get more involved, take part in more events and raise even more money than I ever have done. My plans include another fun run and Go Orange day, as well as a summer fete and a hike up Mount Snowdon as I aim to challenge myself as much as I can. More details will be emerging when I have them, but for now please wish me luck!

 

Start saving at least ยฃ500 a month

 

 

I’ve only been able to do this one since I went back to full time work at the end of last year, but in October I opened a Help To Buy bank account as I aim to start saving for my first house. It’s going to take me a good few years to get a deposit behind me, especially as property prices in my local area are ASTRONOMICAL, but if I can try to save at least ยฃ500 every single month then I’ll stand myself in good stead going forwards. Since landing my dream job I’m starting to feel really settled and really positive about creating a stable future for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop travelling and I’m certainly not ready to get married and have kids, but I just want to give myself the best future possible and saving lots of money will definitely help me to achieve that.

 

Incorporate exercise into my weekly routine

 

 

Exercise is something I have ALWAYS struggled with, I hated P.E. as a child and my idea of increasing my heartrate was standing at the back of the rounders pitch having a good gossip with my school friends and doing a few star jumps! As I’ve got older my attitude has changed a little, but I still feel faint at the idea of even going in to a gym, let alone doing a full blown workout. I do however really enjoy the gym once I get some blood pumping, but it’s the idea of going that makes me feel really demotivated, and maybe it’s because I’m a little intimidated by all the amazing girls and guys who go and look like their professionals. I’m going to start doing a small workout at home once a week though to improve my fitness, and my core strength. It’s not about losing weight or toning up, I think I just want to feel good about myself again and I know how much exercise can do for your mental and physical health. Here’s hoping I can do at least one workout a week to help with this – plus daily walks too!

 

Grow my blog as much as possible whilst working full time

 

 

I’m hoping to smash this one as I’ve already had a positive start to the year, but the first few months of being back to full time work meant that my blog really took a back seat at the end of last year. I was just so exhausted doing 40 hour weeks, plus 2 hours of driving a day, and didn’t want to do anything other than watch telly and get into bed during my week night evenings, and my weekends were for catching up with friends and making exciting plans. I also lost my beautiful dog Cassie at the end of last year and this had a massive impact on my motivation to do anything productive. If I’m honest, I barely slept or ate, let alone found the time to blog, and it did affect me. I was totally consumed by grief and loss, which is something I had never experienced before. But with the start of a new year comes new positivity and I’m really excited to throw myself back in to my blog and make proper time to publish regular posts, grow my followers and keep up my social media statuses. I’ll probably schedule in one evening a week and one day of the weekend to dedicate time to my blog and I’m hoping to stick to it over the coming weeks.

 

I like to think that these resolutions are all achievable and are all things that are going to enhance my little life over the next 12 months, and Iโ€™m feeling more motivated than ever to make this another incredible year. In addition to these resolutions, I’m also hoping to make more time for myself and put myself first. Little things like having a bath, popping on a face mask or reading a book will all help to give myself some well deserved ME time and I intend to do this a lot in 2018. Do you make New Years resolutions? Do you ever stick to them? Here’s hoping I achieve mine – happy new year everyone, wishing you all a successful, healthy and happy 2018!

Love Jess X

 

Happy new year y'all ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿพ #NYE2017

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My End of Year Review: 17 Highlights From 2017

 

Having no regrets is all that she really wants ๐ŸŒŸ

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OHMYGOD I literally cannot believe I am writing this. Like how did this year go by so quick? What the hell have I done over the past 12 months? Why does it only seem like 5 minutes since I wrote my 2016 end of year review? I cannot cope with how quick time is flying and how much life is passing me by. I didn’t think I could top 2016, I had the best year of my life to date when I quit my career to travel and become a full time freelancer. Surprisingly though, I think 2017 has been even bigger, ever better and even more amazing than I could ever have imagined. I’ve taken 17 flights, travelled to 11 countries and 14 cities and made memories that will last a lifetime. My blog has grown to the biggest it’s ever been and I’m enjoying countless new opportunities that I could only ever have dreamed of.

Although I’ve had an amazing year, sadly I’m ending it on a low as my beautiful dog Cassie went to sleep and left us just a few weeks ago. She had been poorly for a few months and just couldn’t go on anymore so we had to do what was best and let her go. We are all devastated and are struggling to come to terms with her loss; she has left a huge hole in our home, and in our hearts, and we miss her more than we ever thought possible. My heart physically hurts and I cry every single day, but I know with time it will get easier and I have amazing friends and family to support me. Love you princess, sleep tight my little snow angel. Despite ending on a low note, January – October gave me an incredible 10 months and I’ve found it so hard to narrow down just 17 highlights from my 2017 but I’m going to try and pick my stand out memories… Here goes…

 

I started the new year down in Cornwall – JANUARY

 

Bit late to the party after being on holiday but so pleased to have ended 2016 and brought in the new year down in Cornwall with my beautiful, crazy family. 2016 was my best year to date; I took my biggest leap of faith by quitting my job, travelling solo to LA and launching my freelance business. I road tripped across America, ticking off 30 cities & 23 states (making 52 new friends along the way) and inter-railed around Italy with my sister, visiting three of the most famous cities in the world. My blog turned 2, it underwent a major rebrand and it was nominated for an award. I've been bridesmaid for my best friend, celebrated my cousins wedding and my sisters 21st and have been to V Fest, the theatre and the races. I've made hundreds of new memories with my amazing friends and family and am entering 2017 feeling the happiest I've ever been! Here's to an even better year with many new adventures ahead as I take on Europe during my next 12 months of travel! Happy belated new year everyone, wishing you every happiness for 2017 ๐ŸŒŽโœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿ’–

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After a quiet Christmas at home we couldn’t wait to get away for a break in Cornwall, our favourite UK county, for five days of beach walking, sea fishing and new year festivities. We stayed in a little apartment at the heart of St Ives and enjoyed ice cream on the beach, walks high in the hills and fancy dress and fireworks over the harbour on New Years Eve. We had an amazing few days away and it really started off our new year with a bang.

 

I became a freelancer and worked part time too – JANUARY

 

This is how I feel right now. Today I calculated that I've earnt *almost* as much each month as I was earning in my old 9-5 job! I knew I could do it!!! I've started with nothing and built up my little business all by myself. At times I felt like giving up, like I wasn't good enough, and like I had no right to make a career for myself, but today I've felt so inspired and so pleased that my hard work seems to be paying off. Any doubts that may have been in my mind have now been dismissed and I am SO excited to continue my journey in my new career and see where this takes me! Here's to future success and many more adventures ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ’ปโœˆ๏ธ๐ŸŒ #MondayMotivation #freelancer #bloglife #virtualassistant

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At the end of 2016 I decided to go freelance with my blog and I also set myself up as a social media manager too. I had a handful of clients with steady work each month and I was really enjoying working from home and being my own boss. After a few months though I realised that I missed working alongside people and started to feel incredibly lonely. On my birthday I landed myself a part time job at New Look and this actually turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to me. I started to get into a routine, earned extra money and made so many friends after thriving off that social interaction again. My part time contract meant that I could work as little or as much as I wanted to, which came in super handy for the months ahead when Iย  wanted to travel as much as I could.

 

I celebrated my sisters 18th birthday – JANUARY

 

 

My little baby sis turned 18 at the end of Jan and we had a wonderful weekend celebrating with our closest family members up in Liverpool. We booked a large table at the gorgeous Titanic Restaurant in the city and then spent the night partying until the early hours. Soph had an amazing birthday and it was so lovely to spent some quality time with our nearest and dearest.

 

I took a winter city break to Copenhagen – FEBRUARY

 

 

My first overseas adventure of 2017 came in February when my sister and I hopped over to Copenhagen for a long weekend. We had wanted to do a winter city break for a while, as it had been two years since our February break to Prague, and the Danish capital seemed to be the perfect place to go. We had an amazing few days wandering around the beautiful Nyhavn Harbour, climbing the Round Tower and finding The Little Mermaid and even popped over to Malmo in Sweden for a day trip too!

 

I wandered around Bratislava and Vienna for 5 days – MARCH

 

 

March saw me take two more trips, and tick off two more countries, as I flew over to explore Bratislava and Vienna with my friend and fellow blogger Lucy. We had an epic 48 hours discovering Bratislava’s Old Town and it’s stunning castle complex before catching the train to Vienna to indulge in its musical history. We then spent two nights in the best hotel I have ever stayed in and were able to visit some of Vienna’s many palaces and impressive buildings along the way – what an adventure we had!

 

I went to my second Traverse conference – APRIL

 

 

After attending my first Traverse conference in Cardiff in 2016, I knew I just had to go back to the 2017 one when details were announced. This time the blogging extravaganza was held in London, right next to The 02 arena, and was even better than the year before. I caught up with Lucy, Seanna, Steve and some of my other bloggy friends and also met the lovely Rachel for the first time, who I have now become firm friends with! Highlights of the conference included the Jet2 opening party at Millbank Tower, a CityCruises boat party along the Thames and the closing party in Canary Wharf with Visit Spain. Oh and the workshops were pretty good too, obvs I didn’t go there just to party ๐Ÿ˜‰ I really interacted with all the brands and speakers this time round after being a little nervous during my first Traverse in 2016 and was lucky enough to be selected for two press trips after meeting sponsors in London. I’ve already bought my ticket for Traverse 2018 in Rotterdam and cant wait to go next May!

 

I went on a spontaneous city break to Sofia – MAY

 

 

After spotting ยฃ30 return flights with Ryanair, my lovely friend Toni and I decided to jet over to Bulgaria for a long weekend in Sofia. For both of us, this was the furthest we had gone in Eastern Europe and we absolutely loved exploring a new city, and a new country. We only had two nights there but spent it eating traditional Bulgarian food, taking a free walking tour, hiking up the Vitosha Mountain and admiring the stunning Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Sofia is a really quirky place and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative city break in Europe.

 

I went on my first group press trip to Menorca – MAY

 

 

After my successful weekend at Traverse, I was lucky enough to be selected for my first ever group press trip, Must See Menorca. Traverse teamed up with both the Spain and Menorca tourism boards to put together a fantastic week of conferencing, workshops and excursions. Highlights included kayaking in the crystal clear waters, strolling around the capital of Ciutedella and going to a party in a cave at the fabulous Cova d’en Xoroi. I made so many friends and had the most amazing week getting to know everyone, learning tonnes of new blogging tips and getting to explore new parts of Menorca that I didn’t know existed.

 

I had a girly week with my sisters in Tenerife – JUNE

 

 

After a hectic couple of months of back to back trips I couldn’t wait for a chilled week in the Spanish sun in Tenerife with my sisters by the time June came around. We booked a package holiday with Jet2 and couldn’t have had better service the whole time we were there. We’ve been to Spain fifteen times but had never visited Tenerife and it’s safe to say we will definitely be returning soon. We had an amazing week relaxing on the beach, swimming in the sea and even hiking up an active volcano! Seeing dolphins and whales swimming in the sea was a real highlight, as was being right in the heart of the action on the Las Americas strip and I already can’t wait to go back next summer.

 

I took another group press trip to Switzerland – JULY

 

 

After a relaxing break in Tenerife it was time to get back to my hectic schedule as I headed over to Switzerland for the first time on another press trip, this time with the Nendaz tourism board and with villa rental company Travelopo. Along with four other bloggers I had the chance to stay in a luxurious chalet in the heart of Swiss ski resort Nendaz. I’m pretty sure that a ski resort isn’t an obvious choice when looking for a summer holiday, but we were delighted to showcase this amazing place to a whole new audience. Both Travelopo and the Nendaz tourism board were amazing and put together a fantastic itinerary for us during our week there. We did plenty of mountain hiking (and biking), had a spa day at a 5* hotel, went cheese making in the Alps and climbed 3300m up to one of the highest mountains in the country at Verbier’s Mont Fort. I also spent a couple of days in Geneva at the beginning and end of the week and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone on this trip so it turned out to be one of the best weeks I’ve ever had!

 

I became an ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation – AUGUST

 

 

On a personal level, this is something I am hugely proud of and definitely one of my biggest achievements from 2017. If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning you’ll know that I suffer with a rare condition called a prolactinoma, which is a small, benign tumor in my brain. I’m on medication for life and have regular blood tests, eye tests and check ups with my hospital consultant to monitor my condition, but generally my health is good and I never let anything hold me back! The Pituitary Foundation are a fantastic charity who have helped me enormously since my diagnosis back in 2011 and so I was absolutely delighted when they asked me to be an ambassador for them in August. I said yes right away and couldn’t wait to get involved with fundraising and spreading awareness. My first job was sharing my story online, and I couldn’t believe it when The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Sun all featured my story and reached millions of readers. Since then I have shared my story with other outlets and even organised a ‘turn your town orange’ day for Pituitary Awareness Month in October. I’m so proud to be ambassador for such an amazing charity and I can’t wait to work on new projects throughout 2018.

 

I hopped over to Hamburg for the weekend – AUGUSTย 

 

 

I got invited to another press trip after making great contacts at this year’s Traverse conference and was super excited to be heading to Hamburg with the Visit Hamburg team back in August. I spent two nights exploring the quirky and alternative sights of the city, including taking a street art tour, paddle boarding down the Alster river and attending the annual Vogelball music festival. We also went to an all you can eat ice cream festival which was INCREDIBLE and I spent some time wandering around the shipping port and exploring the old town with its famous Rathaus building too. Although it wasn’t my favourite city, I did really enjoy my first visit to Germany and had a lovely weekend making new friends and creating new memories.

 

I became a real life fairy godmother – SEPTEMBER

 

 

Ahh one of the best things to ever happen to me, I became fairy godmother to one of my best friend’s baby and we had such a lovely day! I’ve known my friend Kath for years, we even moved in together for a few months a couple of years ago, and I was sooo excited when she asked me to be godmother to her beautiful little girl Halle. We had a lovely day at the Church and Halle looked so cute in her little dress. I promise to love you and to look after you forever baby girl <3

 

I took on so many new blog opportunities – ALL YEAR ROUND

 

 

This year was my best year yet for new blogging opportunities and I’m delighted to say that I’ve had them in abundance over the past 12 months. From complimentary flights and week/weekend long trips in Spain, Switzerland and Germany to overnight hotel stays in The Cotswolds and boat tours along the Thames, it’s been an epic year of press trips. I really wanted to challenge myself this year and work on new collaborations with lots of new brands. As well as taking trips I’ve also worked with companies on sponsored blog posts, Instagram takeovers and competition giveaways. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I’ve wanted to be though, and I haven’t just waited for things to land in my lap. I’ve emailed brands, taken part in Twitter chats, created a media kit, networked, attended conferences and really got myself out there in order to be selected for some incredible opportunities that have really helped to grow my blog and make it the best it can be.

 

I inter-railed around Europe – SEPTEMBER

 

 

By mid September I hadn’t been on a trip away since Hamburg at the start of August and was desperate to travel again! When my friend Toni said she wanted to do the same, we knew we had to go on a real stand out trip and inter-railing around Europe seemed to fit the bill nicely! I’ve always wanted to go inter-railing, especially after my rail trip to Italy last year, so couldn’t wait to get planning our trip. After weeks of deliberation, flight/train searching and trying to find decent hotels at a decent price, we decided to do four countries and four cities within nine days. We started in the Polish capital of Warsaw then headed to Prague and Salzburg before ending up in lovely Ljubljana. We had an amazing two nights visiting each city and saw as much as we physically could during our time there. I’d visited Prague before but still loved it and I had a great time in Warsaw and Salzburg, but Ljubljana really stole my heart and I’m so glad we saved the best til last!

 

I got a new car &ย a new job – OCTOBER

 

 

When my beloved Vauxhall Corsa went to the big car heaven in the sky I found myself needing a new mode of transport and a new salary to support myself. After a year of freelancing and 9 months of part time work I landed on my feet when I got offered a brand new job that I’d had no intention of getting! I was starting to get fed up of unstable freelance income and I knew I definitely didn’t want to be in retail coming up to Christmas, so in September when I emailed my CV along with a generic cover letter to a local travel firm in Cheltenham I had no idea that I’d even get an interview, let alone get offered a job! I picked up my new car at the end of September and a few days later I started my new job as an operations co-ordinator at luxury travel firm Abercrombie and Kent. I work in the villas sector of the business and spend my days writing descriptions and editing photos for our luxurious villas, as well as contacting owners for availability requests and assisting the sales team with their holiday enquiries. My experience of property management from my estate agent days, coupled with my passion for travel through my blog, have helped to land my dream job and I’ve not looked back since I started! I believe that everything happens for a reason, and although having a full time job means I haven’t been able to blog as much, I’ve learnt to appreciate my weekends, use my annual leave wisely and have started saving a lot of money which will be used for future trips and treats for my nearest and dearest… Here’s to being a full-timer again!

 

I saw the most snow we’ve had in years – DECEMBER

 

Six weeks ago we were told the devastating news that our darling Cassie had a tumor in her tummy and she didn't have long left to live. We hoped and prayed that she would get better, that she would get back to her normal self, or that she would at least make it til Christmas. Sadly we don't think our prayers have been answered, as our little girl has been getting worse day by day. We didn't think she would ever see snow again, but this morning when she got up from her bed and walked out into the garden it looked like her last wishes had come true. Cass has always loved the snow and we feel so blessed that she was able to enjoy it for one last time. Soon we will have to make a decision that no pet owner wants to make and our hearts are breaking, but for now we are treasuring every second with our little snow angel and are loving her as much as we have done every day for the past 12 years. We just don't ever want to let you go baby ๐Ÿ’”

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Although I am devastated to be writing this because we lost our precious Cassie, I am so grateful that in December it snowed for the first time since 2009 and our darling girl got to play in the snow one last time. Pulling back the curtains and waking up to so much snow was truly magical and, if I closed my eyes for a few seconds, it really felt like I was a child again. My sisters and I were supposed to be going to Capital FM’s Jingle Bell Ball that day, but the snow had meant all trains/coaches from Oxford were cancelled so we had no way of getting there. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we spent the day with our little Cassie giving her so many cuddles, watching Christmas films and telling her we loved her. Although it was her last day with us, and we spent the next few weeks crying uncontrollably every single day, I will always be grateful that it snowed and that she spent her last day being surrounded by love. We miss you so much baby and our hearts are hurting without you. We wish that you could still be here with us, that we could stroke your head or play with your ears or snuggle you tight, but we know that you were in pain and we couldn’t bear for you to carry on. We know now that you are at peace and are looking down on us each and every day, and whenever it snows we will know that it’s you showing us that you love us. Forever in our hearts, princess <3

 

When I take a step back and look at everything I’ve done this year I can’t help but feel immensely proud of myself. I’ve overcome a lot and I’ve made so many life changes in just one year, all of which have made me happier and a better person. Oh and remember those New Years Resolutions I made back in January? I’ve nailed them all. Travel to 10 new countries – tick, I even did 11! Stop looking for love – tick, goodbye tinder! Spend more time with family and friends – tick, I’ve removed toxic people from my life and put my loved ones first! Stop buying scratchcards – semi tick, I buy one every few months but I’m nowhere near as bad as I used to be! I’m quite impressed that I’ve managed to successfully complete the challenges I set myself this year and it just reinforces my belief that, if you want something badly enough, you’ve gotta go out there and get it!

As for 2018, I have no idea what the coming year will hold, but that’s what makes it so exciting. I really love January, I know it’s my birthday month so I’m biased but I love the challenge of starting a new year, totally afresh, and I set myself goals and plans that I aim to accomplish. It really gives me a sense of perspective and helps to get what I really want out of life. Thanks to all of you lovely lot for supporting Journeys with Jessica for yet another year – this little blog will be celebrating its fourth birthday in 2018 and I can’t believe how far we have come! I’ve love every second of being a travel blogger and can’t wait to take you on more adventures with me next year.

Happy new year everyone!

Love Jess X

 

 

 

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September Newsletter

Happy 1st October!

One of my favourite months of the year is now upon us, and I can’t quite believe that we have just three months left of 2017! How the HELL did that happen?! I’ve had a whirlwind of a summer and been fortunate enough to travel to some amazing places, but now I’m looking forward to winding down a little bit, swapping sunny days for cosy nights in and embracing all things autumnal before our long cold winter inevitably hits. September has been another crazy month for me, I went on my interrailing adventure visiting 4 countries and 4 cities, and have also bought myself a brand new car and started a brand new job! Here’s what’s been happening over the past 30 days…

 

I became a god mother for the first time

 

 

I’m sooo proud to announce that I am now (fairy) godmother to beautiful little Halle, daughter of one of my best friends! The christening took place a few weeks ago now but it was so lovely and Halle looked so adorable. I was so honoured to be asked to be her godmother, it’s something I’ve never had the privilege of doing before and I cried as soon as I was asked! I promise to love you and look after you forever little Halle bean <3 xx

 

I went interrailing around Europe for ten days

 

 

Last weekend I got back from one of my biggest trips of 2017; I interrailed around Europe for 10 days with another of my best friends and we had SUCH an amazing trip! We flew to Warsaw to start off our adventure, enjoying walking tours, traditional Polish food and learning about its war history along the way, before heading over to Prague for our second stop. It was my second visit to the city and I fell in love with it even more than I did the first time. We partied until the early hours, wandered around the biggest castle complex in Europe, and spent time gazing in awe at the beautiful Old Town Square.

 

 

Our third stop was the stunning city of Salzburg, home to strudel, sacher-torte and of course, the Sound of Music film set. We took the funicular up to the top of the castle complex where we were treated to incredible panoramic views over the entire city below, and then sang our hearts out on the wonderful Sound of Music Official Tour. The fourth and final stop of our interrailing adventure was the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, somewhere that had been on my bucket list for such a long time. Again, we took a funicular up to the top of the castle to watch the sun set, then spent time wandering around the cobbled streets and meandering along the river. Our last full day was spent at the nearby Lake Bled, which seems to be top of everyone’s go-to lists at the moment! We had the most amazing trip and I wish we could go back and do it allll over again!

 

I treated myself to a new car

 

 

Last month my lovely little corsa gave up the ghost after 5 short years of us being together and I was totally gutted!! Sadly a bust head gasket meant that we had to part ways, so to cheer myself up I treated myself to a brand new, 67 plate Vauxhall Adam and it has definitely put the smile back on my face! After a month of having no car I’m fully embracing being back behind the wheel and am loving whizzing around in my new purchase.

 

I started a brand new full-time job

 

 

Most people think getting a new car is a big enough event for one month, but not me, I only went and got myself a brand new job too! After 18 months of travel, 12 months of freelancing and 9 months of part time work, I felt the time was right for me to have a new challenge and ease myself into a career in the travel industry. As much as I’ve loved blogging and travelling almost full time over the past year and a half, I realised that I needed to catch my breath, slow down and build a career in the industry I am hugely passionate in. I’m by no means settling down, and I’ll still be making the most of my weekends and annual leave by traveling as much as possible, but for now I’m really excited to have a new challenge and am looking forward to becoming a Villa’s Coordinator at a luxury travel firm in Cheltenham… Wish me luck!

So that’s how my September went… How did yours go? I’m hoping to have a quiet October where I can save some money, spend some time with my friends and family and just enjoy being at home for the next few weeks. Weirdly, I don’t actually have any new trips coming up which is kind of a strange concept for me, but I just want to settle in to my new life and see how things go. You know me though, I’m pretty sure I’ll book some kind of spontaneous getaway before 2017 comes to an end ๐Ÿ˜‰

Love Jess x