,

A Little Life Update… Where I Was vs Where I am Now

Don't look back… You're not going that way! ✈️🌎 #Venice #Italy #Venezia #wanderlustwednesday #noregrets

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Hi everyone,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with lots of love, fun and laughter – I know I did! The festivities feel like they’re well and truly over now though and, although I do love Christmas, I am so excited for the new year to arrive and for a fresh start. I’m looking ahead to all my travel plans for 2017 but am also reflecting and putting together my end of year review, with my top highlights from 2016. First though, I thought I’d share a very honest post with you all. As some of you will know, 2016 was a huge turning point in my life, for very personal reasons, and here’s why…

I lost 2 family members

 

2

 

For the first time in my life, I lost 2 close family members. My Aunty Pat left us in January, and my Uncle Terry passed away in July, just six months later. It was awful, I’ve never really dealt with grief, or loss before. I’m lucky that, at the age of 23, none of my close family members had passed away, until this year. My nan gave us a scare too – she has had ongoing heart problems for a while now, but she collapsed and her heart stopped beating. Thank god she was in hospital at the time and was immediately brought back to life – I don’t know what I’d have done if she’d have left me. My nan is one of the most amazing, strong and selfless women I know, and she is my total inspiration. If you’re reading this nan, I want you to know how much I love you, and I hope I might have made you proud this year. <3

My health finally started to improve

 

1

 

This is a huge positive, and one I am so happy has turned around for the better. As most of you will know, I suffer with a health condition called a prolactinoma, which is basically a small tumor on the pituitary gland in my brain. My condition seemed to deteriorate throughout 2015, when I was off and on medication and subsequently felt the worst I had ever felt. However, after a few months of yet more blood tests, eye tests and trips to the hospital I am finally in control of my condition and feel the best I ever have! My consultant and I made the decision to go back on my long term medication, and my prolactin levels have finally been lowered meaning my symptoms have disappeared and I am generally feeling much better. Yes I still have crippling headaches and yes I am often poorly, but I’m a million times better than I was last year and I finally feel happier with my health. I last went to the doctors at the end of November, and my next hospital check up is in March, so I’ll have more news then but, for now at least, I’m pleased to report that I’m feeling on top of the world… Long may it continue!

I made the decision to quit my 9-5 life

 

 

On to something less positive now, but it does have a happy ending- promise! Some of you might remember reading about my quarter-life crisis, where this time last year I had a mini breakdown. I was so unhappy with my life; I wasn’t enjoying my job, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go, and I had this incurable wanderlust that made me want to travel as much as possible, although, at the time, I just didn’t know how to go about it. Then 2016 came along and, all of a sudden, this light-bulb went off in my head and I knew something had to change.

 

 

On 7th January 2016, after a few hours in my local STA Travel store in Oxford, I made the decision to book an epic Contiki trip across America, from LA to NYC, and I knew that there was no turning back. The following Monday, I handed in my notice at work. I knew that travelling across America would make me more determined than ever to travel as much of this world as I possibly could, and I knew that I couldn’t do it without quitting my 9-5 job. So I did it, I handed in my notice ridiculously early, and I started my final few months at work whilst preparing for America and then, subsequently, deciding what I was going to do when I returned.

I travelled more than I ever have before

 

 

The start of 2016 saw me take numerous trips to London and Liverpool, as well as little visits to Brighton and Bournemouth too. As you’ll know, June and July saw me travelling throughout America, across 23 states in 28 days and I had the time of my life! I visited over 25 cities, from LA and Vegas to Memphis, New Orleans, Miami and New York. I helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, parasailed over Daytona Beach, road tripped across Route 66, visited the White House in Washington and went ghost hunting in Savannah. I also celebrated 4th July in New York courtesy of my £471 flight change fees (!!!) the craziest, most spontaneous decision I have ever made, but so totally worth it!

 

September saw me travelling across Italy, from Venice to Florence to Rome, and ticking even more off the bucket list. I rode a gondola around the canals of Venice, climbed the Duomo in Florence, wandered round the Collosseum and threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain in Rome. I’m also about to embark on my last trip of the year and will be heading down to St Ives in Cornwall on Thursday ready for some new year celebrations – I’m so excited!!

 

Ride a gondola in Venice – TICK! ✅✅ Next stop Florence 🚂🚂 #bucketlist #italianescapade #tourists

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

My blog continued to grow

 

 

I’m so pleased that my little blog had it’s best ever year in 2016, and I couldn’t be more thankful to my amazing friends, family and my READERS who have supported me throughout this past year. Journeys with Jessica has gone from strength to strength; we’ve had press coverage, an award nomination and our first press trip – these were things I could only have dreamed of when I first started writing back in 2014, and I still can’t quite believe that they all happened! I’m excited about the prospect of growing my blog even further in 2017 and can’t wait to continue to share all of my future adventures with you all – THANKYOU for making this all happen, I wouldn’t be anywhere without you lovely lot! <3

 

I launched my freelance business

 

 

When I returned from America in July I took a month or so off to just completely relax, see friends and spend some quality time with my family. I celebrated my mum and dads 25th wedding anniversary, went to Liverpool for a week to stay with my nan and granddad, and I went to V Fest with my cousins. I wanted to have a month where I just had FUN, lived life and totally let go. I think this was really important for me to do as it gave me perspective on what I actually wanted from life, and what truly made me happy. At the end of September I decided to launch my freelance business as an online virtual assistant, and I’ve never looked back! It’s still early days, but my client base is growing and I’m making enough money from it now to go full time – although the dream is still to be a full time blogger, and I’m hoping I’ll make it there one day! For now though, I’m super happy with my new freelance life and am looking forward to continuing this in 2017.

 

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 📝💻✈️🌍 #MondayMotivation #freelancer #bloglife #virtualassistant

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

So that’s my little life update. I guess when you think about it, an awful lot has happened in such a short space of time! Aside from the obvious negatives, and the low points, I think that, overall, 2016 turned out to be one of the best years of my life. I had so many highs and ticked SO much off my ever growing bucket-list, and am so much happier now compared to where I was this time last year. Since October I have been freelancing fulltime whilst throwing myself into my blog too. Fast forward to December and I’m still doing both of those things whilst looking forward to seeing what 2017 will bring, and I’m pleased to announce that planning for my European Adventure is well underway… Watch this space!

Love Jess x

#summer ☀💖

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

,

Surviving your first time at WTM London

 

Had so much fun @wtmlondon earlier on this week! Blog post coming soon! #WTMLDN #london #LDN #ExCel

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Hi everyone,

So last week I attended WTM London for the first time EVER and I had the most amazing time! For those of you who don’t know, WTM is the biggest travel trade show in the world and is held in London every November for three days, at the ExCel Centre. Anyone and everyone from the travel world is present at WTM, from tour operators and tourism boards to hotels, airlines and resort representatives. I consider myself to be a little blogger in a big, big travel pond, so I was understandably nervous/excited about the prospect of attending WTM for the first time! Here’s my guide to surviving your first time at this fantastic exhibition…

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

 

 

I can’t stress how important this is when attending WTM for the first time! I feel as if I prepared as much as I possibly could by navigating the website, booking meetings, looking up lectures and planning my journey in advance before the big day arrived. I made sure I planned my tube route (although this changed due to station closures on the day!), I made sure I knew where my meetings were and what stands I wanted to visit, and I made sure I knew which lectures I wanted to attend. Planning in advance really helped me to calm my nerves and take everything in my stride when I eventually arrived on the day. I also reached out to other bloggers who had attended before, Eileen from Crooked Flight held a fantastic webinar which was super helpful and I was SO glad I watched it before I attended!

 

Just one of the fab exhibitors @wtmlondon this year! #WTMLDN #mexico #tourism #TravelTuesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Don’t get me wrong, I  was totally overwhelmed by WTM; the ExCel was absolutely enormous and I felt so out of my depth! I had lost my voice and had a terrible cough that day, so I think that just affected my confidence at first, but once I’d had a few meetings and started speaking to more people I felt much more comfortable and began to enjoy myself a bit more! Make sure you research the companies you have meetings with, know the name of the person you’re going to be speaking to, and make sure you know what it is you want from WTM. I wanted to meet with tourist boards and enquire about potential press trips, as that’s the direction I want my blog to take, but others may want to become a travel trade consultant or progress their careers in the industry, so talking to specific brands about what you want to achieve is key to success at WTM.

 

Make sure you look the part

 

 

Treat WTM as you would treat a professional meeting, or a job interview. I wore a skirt and top to look smart, and I took a blazer too but wore flats as I knew I would be doing a lot of walking! I feel I looked professional but not too over the top, and hopefully I went for style as well as comfort! Jeans and a t-shirt is a definite no-no; most of the guys were in suits or a shirt and trousers, whilst most of the girls were in dresses, smart tops and trousers or skirts and tops like myself.

Book meetings in advance

 

 

Booking meetings ahead of my visit to WTM really helped me to plan my day. It also ensured I could spend a certain amount of time meeting brands and a certain amount of time attending lectures, so I could balance my day correctly. I found the WTM website to be extremely helpful when planning; you can contact brands directly, find out about all the lectures and speakers and even see the full A-Z list of exhibitors who will be present each day. There’s also a WTM app which you can download and use to interact with brands and speakers on the day, making sure you’re super involved throughout the whole process. You can also use Twitter to mention brands and exhibitors in your tweets, showing them that you’re excited about the big event and that you’re planning it before you’ve even arrived… everyone loves a build up!

 

Print your media kit and take plenty of business cards

 

And I was sooo pleased with how my press pack turned out too! Who else took one to @wtmlondon this year? #London #WTMLDN #ExCel

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

I have never printed my media kit as I think carrying prints around is very old-fashioned, but I am so glad I took copies to WTM with me! I printed around 20 of them, and had 100 business cards on me which was plenty. I gave all of my media kits out, and around 30-40 business cards too, as not everyone wants to see your media kit. I made sure my media kit was given to people I had meetings with, and people that I approached who I was really keen to work with. The beauty of presenting a media kit is that it gives you something to visually share with the person/company you’re approaching, and I think it makes you stand out over someone who is just there to drop off a business card.

 

Look up the lectures you want to attend

 

This was my holy grail @wtmlondon – wouldn't have survived without it! #London #WTMLDN #ExCel

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

I think WTM is all about time planning, especially if (like me) you only have one full day there! To me, the lectures are just as important as meetings with professionals, you can learn a lot from the speakers and the Q&A sessions, so I was keen to catch as many lectures as I could during my day. It helped to look them up in advance so I could ignore any irrelevant ones and focus on the ones I really wanted to attend. The WTM guide that is handed out to you upon arrival is really helpful in terms of planning, but there are giant boards and maps dotted about too so that you can get your bearings and make your way to the lecture halls on time. Be sure to arrive early to make sure you get a seat!

 

Catch up with your fellow blogger friends

 

 

WTM doesn’t have to be totally serious; yes, you’re there to learn and meet professionals from the travel industry, but it’s s really great place to have some fun too. I met up with three of my fellow travel blogger friends whilst I was there- Emma (Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles), Kate (Kate Victoria Photography) and Mel (Footsteps on the Globe) – and we hung out, took photos and attended lectures together. It’s really nice to see a few friendly faces during what can be quite a stressful day, so I really enjoyed spending some time with these girls!

Follow up after the event

 

wtm1

Following up afterwards is just as important as attending the conference on the day! I did my follow ups yesterday, a week after attending, and sent emails to brands I met and had proper meetings with throughout the day. Following up doesn’t have to be in the form of emails though, you could interact with the brands on Twitter, make it fun, make yourself memorable! Keep in contact and you never know where your initial meetings might lead to in the future.

So there we have it, my ultimate guide to surviving your first time at WTM London. Have you been before? Are you wanting to go next year? Sharing is caring, so I’d love to hear any tips you have too!

Love Jess x

 

Where can you visit every country in the world, all under one roof? @wtmlondon of course! #WTMLDN #london #LDN #ExCel

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

,

Another exciting announcement: Something new in my travel career!

twitter-news

 

Hi guys,

So I know I had a big announcement to make last month, and becoming a brand ambassador for the first time with TransferTravel was super duper exciting news, but it’s all systems go in my little life right now, and you probably won’t be surprised to read that I’m taking on another new challenge as well!

As of this week I am now an INTERN for The UK Blog Awards, one of the biggest companies in the blogging industry! I was lucky enough to be selected and am delighted to be working closely with founder and MD Gemma to boost my social media and blogging skills and to learn lots of new things along the way.

 

 

As most of you will know, I entered the 2016 UK Blog Awards last year and was honoured to be shortlisted for Best Travel Blog by you lovely lot. This year I’m hoping to enter my blog into the awards again, and am aiming to be shortlisted for the second year running; who knows, I might even have a chance of winning the coveted award too! *Please be aware that my role as an intern for the company will NOT affect my entry in any way, shape or form and I will be entering in exactly the same way, just like any other blogger.*

I’ll be interning with Gemma for the next three months and am so excited for us to work together. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to attend a couple of events with the company too and I can’t wait to see where this opportunity leads for me! I’m getting myself out there and taking on as much as possible whilst I’m trying to launch my freelance writing & social media consultancy business as well as being a brand ambassador and blogging full time too.

So, it’s going to be a hectic few months between now and Christmas but I cannot WAIT to get started and to embrace this new role alongside my existing commitments! As always, I’ll be sharing everything with you all, every step of the way… Watch this space guys!

Love Jess x

,

Help! I have a serious case of post-travel blues…

Quite possibly the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen 🇺🇸😍 @contiki @statravel_uk #monumentvalley

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Hey everyone,

So I’m writing this post with a bit of a heavy heart. I have been feeling so so down lately, and a bit lost, and I just don’t know where to turn to or what to do about it really, other than write it all down a big long blog post and try to work out what the hell is wrong with me!

As most of you will know, I recently returned from the trip of a lifetime across America. I had the best time of my whole life and made friends with so many new people, most of whom are now lifelong friends. We have become so close and I miss them all dearly, every single day. They all live in Australia and New Zealand, which makes it even harder when you live the other side of the world in rainy old England! I talk to most of them as much as I can – thank god for FaceTime! – and we all keep in touch on our group Facebook, but it’s just not the same!

 

 

I’ve experienced travel blues before, I often feel a bit down when I’m back from a holiday or city break, I guess it’s only normal, but this is a whole different thing all together. I’m experiencing something I’ve never dealt with before, I’m sad all the time and I feel low even when I have other people around me, like my amazing family and my friends from home. I guess it’s the intensity of being with so many people for such a long time, living with them day in day out, sharing the same adventure and going on the same journey together which makes it such an intense experience – we all bonded and clicked, and maybe that’s why I’m finding it so hard to be without them all.

I think I’m also struggling because I haven’t had a ‘normal’ routine to go back to – I quit my job in order to travel and focus on my blog for the rest of this year, which I’m doing, and I’m so lucky to be in a position to be able to do so, but I’m finding it incredibly lonely and, at times, I’m struggling to adjust to my new life. So many people have said to me ‘oh you’re living the dream’ or ‘oh why are you moaning you don’t have work to get up for tomorrow’ and yeah, I get that, I see where they’re coming from, but at the same time I don’t have anyone around me during the days when I’m at my lowest point and I’m dwelling on the past. I don’t have anyone to have my lunch with, and I don’t have anyone to talk to if I’m feeling like things are getting on top of me.

 

 

Maybe I’m suffering from sort of mild depression, and I say that very very carefully, as I know depression is a terrible illness that affects so many people. I’ve dealt with a mild form of depression before; when I was 15 and I had eating problem and body issues, and then again when I was 21 and I dealt with my first heartbreak. At times I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I went through darkness where I cried for hours every single day, for weeks on end, and it took months for me to get back to the real me, and to feel as I had done in happier times. So I’m not saying this on the same level, or in any way comparable to people who have suffered with and have been diagnosed with real depression, but it’s kind of the only thing that describes the way I’ve been feeling lately.

 

Even if it ain't all it seems, I've got a pocket full of dreams 🏙🇺🇸 #newyork #NYC #bigapple #tbt

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

I’m trying to cure my travel blues by keeping busy, focusing on my blog and developing my freelance writing jobs and of course by keeping active. I take my dog out for a walk every single day, and she keeps me company by sitting at my feet whilst I type away furiously on my laptop! I also see my friends as much as I can and I’m constantly texting/FaceTiming people so that keeps me busy, I guess I just need to fill my time and plan things to look forward to until I feel content enough to just relax and enjoy life. Maybe I’m just a bit nervous at the moment, what with not having a full time job and I’m wondering how I’m going to make a proper living, but I think I just need to take a step back and stop WORRYING! I find that so hard though, I worry about everything, I just can’t help it.

 

So exactly a whole month ago today I returned from my American adventure. My mum took this photo of me just as I had come through arrivals at Heathrow airport. Seconds earlier I had collapsed into my mum and dads arms and burst into tears. I sobbed so much and they both hugged me so tight and, in those few seconds, I realised nothing was more important than love. I felt overwhelmed with exhaustion, with relief that I'd made it home safe, and with emotion because my amazing adventure was over. But in those few seconds I realised that nothing is more important than being with people you love. Travelling has made me realise that, no matter how far you go or how long you're away for, you'll always come home to where you belong, and you'll always be loved no matter where you are in the world. It's also made me want to be a better person, live each day as if it's my last, and to never be afraid to act how I feel and to follow my heart. Have courage and believe in yourself. If you like someone, tell them. If you love someone, show them. Don't let anyone tell you you're being stupid or you can't do something you've always wanted to, who are they to judge? I guess since I've been home I've appreciated things a lot more, I've learnt to be content with who I am as a person, and to never doubt myself. I've also learnt to stop living in the past and start looking forward to the future. Be spontaneous, do things and see the world. Don't put things off, do them today, not tomorrow. Don't leave things unsaid. A lot can change in a day. Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer, please go and explore our beautiful planet, before it's too late. ✈️🌍

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Sorry for the rant, it just helps sometimes for me to get things off my chest! Have any of you ever experienced post travel blues before, and have they ever been on this level? I’d be keen to know if such a thing actually exists, or if I’m just being plain stupid!

Please tell me if it’s real, or if it’s all in my head…

Love Jess x

Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game ⚾️⚾️

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

,

Special Announcement – A new chapter in my travel career!

announcement

 

Hey everyone,

I have something very special to share with you all now… I’ve taken on my first ever ambassador role and have teamed up with the fantastic Transfer Travel! For those of you who aren’t sure what Transfer Travel are about, they are a start up company offering a marketplace for holidaymakers to come together and buy unwanted holidays from sellers who are unable to travel.

 

 

As part of my role as an ambassador, I’ll be featuring Transfer Travel on my social channels and promoting them to all you lovely lot! You can check out my introductory video on the site in the next few days – and please do tell me what you think, I have never done any kind of vlogging or presenting before so don’t expect too much 😉

I absolutely love the concept that Transfer Travel have created; it’s a fantastic balance between promoting affordable travel and helping those who can no longer take their holidays, whether that’s due to an illness, relationship breakdown or a family emergency, and I am sure they will take the travel market by storm.

 

 

So that’s the next little venture in my travel career – I can’t wait to get started! As always do keep an eye on the blog for any future updates and I’ll be sharing some of my ambassador stories along the way. Oh and go and give Transfer Travel a big follow on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – you know you want to!

Love Jess x

 

I have a HUGE announcement which I'll be sharing on the #blog tomorrow… Stay tuned! 🙊 #surprise #travel #bloggers

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on