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My End of Year Review: 17 Highlights From 2017

 

Having no regrets is all that she really wants 🌟

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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 🌎✈️💖

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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 📝💻✈️🌍 #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 I  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 😉 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 £30 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 – AUGUST 

 

 

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 & 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 💔

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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

 

Work Christmas party 🎅🌲☃🌟 #sparklesparkle

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A Little Life Update: My Half Year Review

 

 

We are now over six months into 2017… OVER SIX MONTHS?! How the bloody hell did that happen?! It feels as though January to June came and went in the blink of an eye. I have done so much, traveled so far, and experienced so many new things, but it’s not until I take a step back and look at my diary, or my Instagram page, that I realise just how much has happened these past six months.

Let’s rewind back to 1st January 2017; the first day, week and month of a brand new year. A chance to focus on new things, make new memories and set new goals. I did all of those things at the start of the year. I spent the post Christmas/New Year period down in Cornwall with my family, taking long dog walks on the beach, eating ice cream sat on the harbour walls, going out for dinner in nice restaurants and waking up to sea views every morning. Just after I got back from Cornwall I made myself some New Years Resolutions. Given that we are now past the midway point of 2017 I thought I’d do a little life update and reflect on the things that have happened in the past six months, to see whether or not I’m on track and if I’m achieving/failing my goals set by my 2017 Resolutions post… Here goes!

 

 

I want to travel to 10 new countries

 

 

This was my biggest and most challenging resolution – definitely the one I was most scared about tackling, but I’m so pleased to say that I’ve been smashing it!! So far this year I have taken seven trips and have been everywhere from Copenhagen and Bratislava to Menorca and Tenerife. I’ve been to five new countries, five new cities and made countless new memories. All of my trips have been totally amazing, but highlights have included my first ever group press trip to Menorca, a last minute city break to Sofia, and a girly holiday with my sisters to Tenerife. In the next two weeks I’ll also be ticking two new countries off my list as I’m heading to Switzerland tomorrow and Germany the week after! Both are group press trips with other bloggers and we’ll be working with the respective tourist boards when we are out there. I’m so excited for my future travels and feel I’m in good stead to complete this challenge as I’ll have done 7/10 by August – not bad going if I do say so myself 😉

 

I want to stop buying scratch cards

 

Amazingly, I’ve actually not done too badly at this one! So I’m not saying I’ve stopped buying them completely – cheeky ones still fall into my shopping basket every now and again – but I have made a conscious effort to try and avoid them wherever possible and I now only use the self service check out at the supermarket to minimize the temptation at the kiosk! I’ve started a little savings pot too and am collecting 50p’s and £2 coins, so whenever I do get the urge to buy one I plonk my change in there and watch it build up –  WAY more fun than losing money every week!

 

I want to grow my blog as much as possible

 

This was probably the single most important resolution for me, and I’m proud to say I think I’m halfway there. I’ve still got a long way to go before I can become a full time travel blogger, but before this year I had never been on a press trip and by the end of August I will have been on THREE in the space of just a few months! For me, a real turning point came when I visited #Traverse17. If you read my post you’ll know that I had an amazing time at the three day travel blogging event down in London, but what I didn’t expect from it was the sheer amount of opportunities I would be opened up to after attending. Just a few weeks after the conference I was lucky enough to be selected to attend the Must See Menorca press trip in April, along with the Spanish Tourist Board and Traverse themselves. And then I was asked to pop over to Hamburg for the weekend with the Visit Hamburg team. I’ve also grown in confidence and have started reaching out to pr companies, tourist boards and local attractions to create new opportunities for myself. So what if there’s no press trip advertised? Make yourself known and start creating things that you might otherwise miss out on!

 

 

I now really enjoy the networking side of things and rarely get nervous. At Traverse everyone was pitching themselves to the tourist boards for trips, I could hear fellow bloggers practising what they were going to say in their speech and it made me feel a little nervous – I certainly wasn’t professional enough to start pitching!! When it came to meeting the brands and speaking to the tourist boards though I actually felt really confident and was completely myself. I didn’t ‘pitch’, I didn’t start reeling off numbers of followers, my monthly page views or my audience demographics, but instead I started talking about the brands and asking questions. I told Visit Spain that I have been to their beautiful country 14 times, and that I have the most amazing childhood memories of beach holidays and tapas and paella. I told Visit Hamburg that I genuinely have always wanted to go to Hamburg because I want to start exploring some of the smaller cities across Europe and promote them to new audiences, rather just writing about capitals like Berlin and Barcelona. I was 100% myself when I was talking to these brands and I think this just might have been why I was lucky enough to be picked to attend these brilliant press trips.

 

I want to spend more time with family and friends

 

First night out together now that Baby Buck is old enough! Why do I feel so OLDDDDD 😭 #saturdaynight #sisters #love 👯💖

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I like to think I was pretty good at this one anyway, but I do think I have really started to spent more quality time with the people that mean the most to me, and I’m so grateful to have the most amazing support network. I still live at home so I’m really close with my parents and my sisters (probably too close, we argue constantly, but we always work things out). I live near to all my friends so I go out for dinner and drinks with them every few days and am always making plans to catch up whenever I have the time. Sadly the rest of my family are split between Liverpool and Essex, so I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like to, but we communicate daily and they’re only a phone call away.  Every single person in my life right now knows how much they mean to me, so thank you <3

 

I want to spend less time on social media

Yea this one hasn’t gone quite the way I’d have liked it to. I’m a social media obsessive; it’s my job, my hobby, my whole life, what can I say?! I’m actually quite sad I haven’t nailed this one as I know that the amount of time I am spending on the net is damaging and I really want to cut it down. I just find it difficult to switch off and feel like I constantly have to know what’s going on in the world. I recently read a brilliant article by the lovely Emily Luxton who described how Instagram is ruining her life. I really resonated with a lot of the aspects in Emily’s post, although my blog isn’t as big as hers, so it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who has an unhealthy relationship with social media. I  know it’s not good at all though, so I’m gonna work really hard to cut down my usage over the next few months… Wish me luck and please send any tips my way. PS thanks Emily for the refreshing, very honest and personal post! <3

 

I want to stop looking for love

 

 

Lol this one is easy. I’ve done it, I’m not going to find anyone, so I’ve given up looking. Ok that’s not strictly true, I was seeing someone off and on for a couple of months, but he found his way to me, I didn’t go looking for him. And we’ve known each other YEARS, so it wasn’t a new thing. Or a Tinder match – that’s deleted, thank God. I’ve finally stopped looking because I genuinely have no desire to be with anyone at the moment. I know that’s quite sad and at times I would love to have someone to share my life with, and I do want that for my future, but right now it’s the last thing on my mind. I don’t have TIME for a boyfriend, I’m travelling too much to want to settle and I’m so spontaneous and carefree that I just don’t want the hassle of a relationship, despite the good things that I know will (one day) come with it. I don’t feel unhappy though, for the first time in months I feel really great about being single and am just getting my confidence up before I decide when/if I want to start dating again. There’s no rush though, I’m still only 24 – sorry mum, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to be a nanny 😉

 

I want to focus on myself

After that last paragraph, I think this goes without saying, but I have focused on myself so much since January that I’m actually starting to feel a bit selfish! Is that a bad thing?! I guess it kind of is, but I’m just looking after number one because one day I won’t be able to do that! So I’m saying YES to new opportunities, YES to hanging out with new friends and YES to doing whatever the hell I want. I’ve been really enjoying every aspect of 2017 so far, and hope that will continue for the remainder of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I still get my down days, and there are (very few) times when I really struggle to be happy, but I’m much better at picking myself up, dusting myself down and painting a big smile on my face.

 

So there we go, I don’t think I’ve done too badly?! It’s quite nice to look back at all the things I’ve done since January and it gives me the confidence to carry on as I have been doing so that I can make the most of the rest of 2017. For now I’m looking forward to heading to Switzerland tomorrow – don’t forget you can follow my journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! What new years resolutions have you been sticking to this year? I’d love to know if you have been achieving your goals, so leave me a comment below!

 

Love Jess x

 

Party #2 of #MustSeeMenorca and we're having tapas and cocktails at the beautiful @portbluehotels

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Why I'm not sure how my 2017 will turn out…

Back in my happy place 🌊🐬 #Cornwall #lovecornwall #stives #swisbest #GB #UK #visitengland #visitbritain #lovegreatbritain

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Hi everyone,

So I’ve had a weird few days this week, and I just wanted to share something with you… I’ve got this thing in my little brain telling me to book trips, get out there and see as much of this world as possible, as quickly as I can. I don’t know what it is, but I desperately want to travel more than I ever have done before this year, and I want to see it ALL! I want to inter-rail across Europe, I want to road trip across America (again) and I want to travel around Australia. Yes I know that seems like an awful lot of places to go in the space of 12 months, but I just want to jet off and explore as much as I can…

I know I have this constant need to tick off countries, and cities, and my 25:25 challenge is probably to blame for that(!!) but this month I’m feeling the wanderlust more than ever and I just can’t understand why. I’m not complaining, I don’t think I could ever get bored of browsing Skyscanner for their cheapest flights to anywhere, or scrolling through Secret Escapes’ latest newsletter when it lands in my inbox each week. I won’t ever tire of booking those flights, searching for the perfect hotel room and finalising all my travel plans, but I guess I’m just itching to explore all of these places, and I want to see them all NOW! I had my birthday last month and I got sooo many travel related pressies that it made me more determined than ever to up my travel game for 2017.

 

 

Maybe it’s because I don’t know what I’m doing with my life this year. I’m toying with the idea of doing Camp America (or something similar) for a few months this summer, but I’m also considering doing some resort work abroad, or potentially a placement at Disneyland Paris if I get accepted. I have all these ideas floating around in my head but I just don’t know what to do for the best. Half of me wants to live and work abroad for a few months, just to see what it’s like, but the other half of me wants to continue to base myself at home and travel little and often instead. Do I bite the bullet and go and live in America, or do I stay here and book lots of short city breaks and then just jet off every few weeks? I’ve spoken to my family and friends about it but they’ve just told me that only I can make that decision, it’s just so damn hard!

My travel plans for 2017 are well underway and I’ve already got four trips in place for the first part of the year, with Copenhagen, Bratislava, Vienna and Tenerife firmly booked in! I’m so excited to be going to so many new wonderful places, all for the first time, and I’m genuinely looking forward to visiting each and every one of them. I’ve loosely planned an itinerary for exploring Europe this year, and it includes popping over to Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland, Poland, Germany and Holland to name but a few! Some people have told me I’m trying to do too much too soon, but I’m young and I can afford it so why the hell not! My main goal though is to visit Australia for a month in January 2018 to celebrate my 25th birthday, and I’m aware that I have to save soooo much money if I’m going to be able to afford it, so some of my European dreams may have to wait until after this (boooo).

 

 

I did speak to my lovely nan on the phone the other day though and she told me to enjoy myself, take time on my travels and explore destinations properly so that I could appreciate it fully. She also told me that I’m never too old to travel, and I can keep on going for as long as I want! My nan and granddad didn’t start travelling until they were in their 40s, and they’ve been to hundreds of places so I know I will continue to travel for as long as I live, but I just can’t help feeling that I want to do it all now! It’s not that I want to get it out the way, I just want to get the big trips out my system so I can then look at getting myself a proper career next year when I come back from Australia.

I think I’m just a little confused about what I want at the moment, and where my life is going. I’m currently working two jobs, trying to save as much as possible, whilst balancing my home life, social life and my health. All my friends are in relationships, they have a partner to share their trips with, some of them are married/engaged and have babies or are expecting, and I’m just over here on my own trying to make my life the best it can be.

 

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

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It’s hard, and I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I wish I had a partner to share things with, to snuggle up to on a Sunday night or to explore the world with one step at a time, but it’s ok, I have myself, I know I’m strong and independent, and I have my amazing friends and family and for that I am so grateful! I’m not trying to turn this post into a rant or a moan, I just feel so overwhelmed with my constant desire to travel at the moment so I’m trying to channel my energy and have things to look forward to whilst trying to cure this ever increasing wanderlust!

Have you ever felt the need to travel constantly? Are you not sure where your life is going at the moment? If you’re in the same boat as me PLEASE let me know – let’s talk about it and try and make ourselves feel better – after all, sharing is caring!

Love Jess x

 

Happy New Year! My 2017 Resolutions…

Happy new year all the way from St Ives 🎉🎉 #NYE #Cornwall #swisbest #lovecornwall #visitengland #visitbritain #lovegreatbritain

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Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to my first post of 2017!

I don’t know about you, but I am sooo happy that a new year is now upon us and I am feeling more motivated than ever to make this year the best one yet! As most of you will know, 2016 actually turned out to be my best year to date, but I am keen to top it in 2017 and am already thinking about my upcoming travels, and my ambitions for the year ahead. Last year I wrote a similar post about my 2016 resolutions, but I’ve been thinking about the new year since before Christmas and have finally settled on my goals for 2017…

 

I want to travel to 10 new countries

 

Planning for my 2017 #travel adventures… It suddenly all seems a little bit real! 🌎✈️🚂 #jessdoeseurope

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For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you’ll know all about my ongoing 25:25 challenge. Last January I set myself the task of visiting 25 countries before I turn 25 in January 2018. As of now I am on country number 12 so am only halfway through with only a year left to complete it! It’s going to be difficult for me to visit another 13 countries before 2017 is over, but I know I have to do at least 10 of them if I have any chance of completing this task next January! In an ideal world, I’ll spend 2017 hitting Europe and will then spend my 25th birthday in Australia, stopping off at Dubai along the way, and celebrating my new achievement. Or if I can’t afford Australia I’ll hop over to Dublin, or Edinburgh, or somewhere else on my bucket list that is a little closer to home… that version of the story is much more likely, but a girl can dream, right?! I’m well aware that it will take a lot of time, and money, to complete this challenge, but I am more motivated than ever to achieve it and really hope I am nearly there by the time 2017 comes to an end! Wish me luck!!

 

I want to stop wasting money on scratch cards

 

 

I’m hoping this one will be fairly easy, but I am THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD FOR BUYING SCRATCHCARDS!! I literally can’t help myself, especially if I’m stood at the front of the queue and they’re just jumping out at me. Or if I’m paying on my card and don’t see the money leaving my account until weeks later, because it doesn’t feel the same as paying in cash, right?! I really need to stop buying scratch-cards though, like seriously, it is a really unhealthy obsession that I want to cut out of my life in 2017. I’m not a gambler, I don’t place bets, I don’t go to bingo and I rarely play the lottery (although I won £90 once woooo!), so I feel like buying scratch-cards is my way of trying to get a little bit of luck, but I NEVER win on them and I just feel they are a complete waste of time. This year, every time I get the urge to buy a scratch-card I’m going to put the couple of quid into a little money pot and try to save it up, at least that way I can save instead of spend!

 

I want to get a part time job

 

Trying to work but getting distracted by cuddles from this one! Love my little helper 🐶💖 #freelancer #bloglife

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You’ll probably all know that I’m currently freelancing and working from home and, as much as I love it, I am starting to get a little lonely. I miss the company of having  work friends, and colleagues, and seeing actual PEOPLE on a day to day basis, instead of just my little dog for company (she’s a babe tho, I love her). I miss the social aspect of it; I’m such a people person and I thrive off seeing a friendly smile and having a little catch up with colleagues, so working by myself has proved difficult over the past couple of months.Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE my freelance life and am going to keep building up my business in 2017 – I love choosing my own hours, not bothering with my hair and make up and working from my bed if I feel poorly! I’m quite good at being  self motivating and I won’t lie in bed all day when I know I have deadlines and a to-do list as long as my arm, but I just feel a little part time job would give me the social aspect that I miss, as well as some more money too, which is never a bad thing! As I write this, I have an interview lined up tomorrow for some part time hours in a retail store, so we will see what comes of that, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

I want to focus on growing my blog as much as possible

 

 

2016 was undoubtedly my best year of blogging to date; I was shortlisted for a national award, I received widespread local press coverage, I underwent a major rebrand, worked with several high profile companies, became a brand ambassador, attended my first travel  blogging conferences and even went on my first ever press trip. I’m not sure how I’m going to top all of those things in 2017, but I sure as hell am going to try! Ideally, I would love to start earing some money from my blog, but I can’t be bothered with all the ads/affiliate links that sooo many other bloggers use. I work with a few PR companies and often get sent on all expenses paid days out and overnight stays to enjoy and review, which in itself is amazing, but I feel like I’m ready to take those next steps into blog professionalism and start earning a living from my little space on the World Wide Web. If you’re a blogger and are already monetising your site PLEASE send some tips my way!

I want to spend more time with my family and friends

 

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 🌎✈️💖

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I do this a lot anyway, but I think I’m going to make a conscious effort in 2017 to spend EVEN MORE time with the people who mean so much to me. In 2016 I learnt that having 5 or 6 close, special friends is better than having 10 or 12 friends who you don’t really see that often. Yes, I have a good social circle and I know an awful lot of people, but I’ve learnt who I can rely on, who I can trust and, most importantly, who I actually want to spend my time with, and who deserves my time too! I love spending time with my family, we are all so close and that will never change, but I’ve learnt who my real friends are over these past 12 months! Here’s to cutting out the time wasters in 2017 and focusing on those who I really want to be with instead.

I want to spend less time on social media

 

 

It’s no secret that I’m a total social media obsessive. I’m on social media literally ALL THE TIME, mainly because of my job, but also because I love it and I can’t help myself. A lot of the time I’m genuinely absorbing important stuff, like keeping up to date with the news, researching new travel destinations or thinking of new post ideas for the blog. Sometimes though, I find myself just sat there staring at my phone, totally absent minded and taking in boring content that has no impact or relevance to my life whatsoever. This is what I need to stop doing in 2017 – I need to stop looking at things that I don’t care about, and things which aren’t important to me. Who cares if that couple from down the road got engaged, or if that girl from school has had a baby? If it doesn’t affect my life I am NOT interested! Of course I want to see what my friends and family are up to and I want to be involved in their online lives too, but I’m going to delete people who aren’t important, ignore things that don’t matter to me, and stop comparing my life to other peoples lives. I also think it will help me to have a little digital detox and interact with humans more instead!

I want to stop looking for love

 

🎉👯🌹😘

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After a bloody awful year of dating in 2016 I think I’ve decided to give up looking for love in 2017 – I never seem to get anywhere, I don’t meet anyone decent, and I ALWAYS get hurt! I’ve been on dates, started seeing people, got to the point where I think it could turn into something, and then BAM, it gets taken away and I end up back at square one. I’m so afraid to let someone in, get close to someone and open up to them because I’m so scared of getting hurt again. I know it’ll affect my confidence the longer I leave it, but I feel that, by not looking for something, I might just be lucky enough to find someone when I least expect it. I’m not totally bitter towards men, and I really do believe that there is someone out there for me, I just haven’t found him yet and I don’t want to look for him now. That’s ok, right?!

 

I want to focus on MYSELF

 

Back in my happy place 🌊🐬 #Cornwall #lovecornwall #stives #swisbest #GB #UK #visitengland #visitbritain #lovegreatbritain

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This kinda follows on from my last point, but I honestly think that, unless I start focusing on myself and looking after number one, I’m not going to find anyone who wants to be with me. I really want to look back on 2017 as the year I started to love myself, because I haven’t done a lot of that in recent years. I’m quite a confident, bubbly person on the outside, and I’ll always put a big smile on my face, but, inside, I’m this little girl who constantly compares herself to others, and overthinks just about everything. I put myself down, I take 20 attempts to get the right selfie, I breathe in when I walk past a mirror because I think I look fat, and I let my health get the better of me sometimes. It’s not something I do on purpose, I just can’t help it, I’ve been like it since I was a teenager, since I encountered some problems when I was 15.

 

Yesterday was a bad day, today will be a good day ✨👸 #selfie #happywednesday

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I won’t go into the details but, ever since then, I have suffered with occasional bouts of mild depression. Sometimes I just have days where I don’t even want to get out of bed. It’s like everything around me is dark and I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes things trigger it, but other times it can be something so small, like a ridiculously sad advert on the telly, and I’ll start bawling my eyes out and crying like a baby. It doesn’t happen too often, and I know people deal with things that are much, much worse, but, this year, if/when I start to feel this way again, I’m going to tell myself that I’m a strong, smart and independent female who CAN and WILL achieve great things, and that might help me look at the bigger picture a bit differently! I want to focus on what I HAVE got, not what I haven’t got, and I think that will really help me to look after myself this year.

 

I'll keep dancing on my ownnnnn 💃💃 #boysarecheatsandliars

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I’m hoping that, by the time 2017 comes to an end, I’ll have ticked off all of these resolutions and will be feeling super proud of myself! I like to think that they are all manageable, and achievable, and that 12 months gives me enough time to complete them all. I know that travelling to 10 new countries is a pretty big ask, so I’m not going to beat myself up too much if I don’t complete that one, but I’m feeling so determined this year and am confident I can do it!

What are your New Years Resolutions? I’d love to hear your 2017 goals!

Love Jess x