Posts

,

My End of Year Review: 17 Highlights From 2017

 

Having no regrets is all that she really wants 🌟

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

 

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 🌎✈️💖

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

 

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

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

 

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 💔

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

 

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

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

 

 

October Newsletter: Autumn Has Arrived!

12047454_10207527519167522_1046119799_n

Hi everyone,

So firstly I wanted to apologise for the huuuuuge delay in writing this up and my lack of blog posts since September! I’ve been super busy since I returned from my recent holiday away to Budapest that I’ve barely had time to think! Now that the nights are getting darker and the days are getting colder, it feels as if autumn is well and truly here and its given me chance to get myself a little more organised. I thought I’d better give you all an overview of what’s been happening lately so my new blog feature, a monthly newsletter, should explain it nicely! Here goes…

12071608_10207531481146569_1927087826_n

Budapest was a brilliant place to visit for my 5th European city break in the past 2 years; its full of culture, character and charm and provided the perfect getaway for me and my sister. We spent three nights and four days in the city which gave us plenty of time to see the sights, explore the little side streets and indulge in some Hungarian history. I’ll be writing up my Budapest adventure as soon as possible, so watch this space!…

12077152_10207531479026516_723161677_n 12081566_10207531480346549_1931379376_n 12086743_10207531478786510_1042645421_n

The day after I returned from my holiday I whizzed straight off to Northampton to see one of my best friends get married. She held her reception at the beautiful Dodford Manor, a converted countryside barn which was simply stunning. Everyone had a brilliant time, and the bride and groom looked totally gorgeous! Congrats Mr & Mrs Nicholson, and thank you for letting me be a part of your special day! <3

11002650_10207580810419770_7469268799597501876_n 12065774_10207580811059786_6245422969870267284_n

12096039_10207580795379394_8397040236122104552_n 12109124_10207580793139338_8744953963691938713_n

Last weekend I headed into London for the day to review some of the best restaurants and bars in trendy Westminster. I hadn’t been to the capital since June so I was dying to go back and this gave me the perfect excuse to visit! As many of my regular readers know, I’ve been contributing for global online magazine The Culture Trip since the summer and was delighted to be asked to take part in their new Neighbourhood project. The task involves taking an area of London and posting about the best bars, restaurants, brunches and things to see and do in said area. I chose to take on Westminster, Covent Garden and Canary Wharf and couldn’t wait to get to work!

12106830_10207580823140088_4227005998846724350_n 12122668_10207580816899932_3213594365894869276_n12072673_10207580817579949_4722537015067754232_n

As part of my research I set up meetings with bar and restaurant managers for a few of my chosen establishments and had the pleasure of being toured around the buildings, interviewing the managers and even being treated to a few free drinks… the perks of being a travel blogger! I’m currently busy typing up my posts for The Culture Trip, all of which are due to be completed by mid December so my works are pretty much all scheduled in between now and Christmas.. it’ll be here before we know it…scary stuff! In between interviewing lovely managers, blagging free drinks and being toured around some beautiful places I managed to squeeze in some sightseeing with my close friend and we even had time to enjoy a scrummy ice cream or two at the AMAZING Haagen Daas Ice Cream Parlour in Leicester Square. I’ll social share my Culture Trip posts once they’re live and will write up my interviews as soon as I can!

12003169_10207580821340043_3398110022069356108_n   12074488_10207580820140013_1903324053786265075_n 12109215_10207580814019860_2357655487220268222_n 12119035_10207580823660101_3095314390502369335_n

This weekend has been a little more chilled, thankfully, so I’ve had chance to spend some quality time with my family as we strolled around one of our favourite local haunts, beautiful Blenheim Palace in nearby Woodstock. Our westie, Cassie, absolutely adores running around the grounds and we wandered around the lake with her whilst staring at the grand architecture of the Palace itself. View one of my previous blog posts to find out a little more about the birthplace of one of Britain’s most loved characters, Sir Winston Churchill.

12122546_10207580862181064_1989179252796848794_n

My final piece of news in this month’s newsletter is that I’ve been asked to write a series of Destination Guides for the brilliant ABN Save Travel Group. Travel writer Breanna Wilson has been working with me closely to edit and publish my guides and it’s been great to get another piece of my work published on a more global scale. Like The Culture Trip, ABN Save have asked me to write weekly articles on some of the hottest city break destinations. As most of you lovely readers will know, my blog focuses on European city breaks and so I’m delighted to be able to share some of my knowledge and handy tips with a much wider audience. My first post for ABN Save was published last week, click here to read my Paris Destination Guide. Next up is Barcelona and Reykjavik so I’ll be social sharing those in due course.

12092363_10207580976263916_846672386_n

As a side note, I’m also running The Big 5K Fun Run in aid of The Pituitary Foundation so I’ll be in Milton Keynes for that next Sunday. I’m running for The Pituitary Foundation as they have been a charity that have supported me since my prolactinoma diagnosis 5 years ago. Please visit my JustGiving page to read my story and help me raise lots of money and awareness for this fantastic charity. Thank you in advance to anyone that can find it in their heart to donate! <3

12112078_10207569125567656_2106836732760032529_n

That pretty much completes my first newsletter for this month, I told you I’ve been busy! I’ll be writing like crazy over the next few weeks and I have a few more little trips planned between now and the end of the year so, as always, I’ll remember to keep you posted! My next write up will be my beautiful Budapest trip… enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Love Jess x

12112357_10207575831655304_5972566057383959477_n

End of the month round up!

IMG_1852556927954

Happy Sunday everyone!

So as its the start of a new month today I thought I’d bring you a round up of everything that’s happened throughout my January and also give you an insight as to what’s coming up for me in February.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I saw in the new year with all my lovely family up in Liverpool. We spent a good few days with everyone and even had time to go into the city centre to rediscover some places that I hadn’t been to since the early part of last year. You can see my write up of my Liverpool trip here: https://journeyswithjessica.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/welcome-to-2015-happy-new-year/

20141231_233253

The following week I headed to Essex to see the other side of my family as we had a big family party to go to. My aunty was turning 50 so she threw a big get together in the local village pub complete with a band and some scrummy food. Unfortunately as we were only down for the night we didn’t have time to head into Essex itself so didn’t see anything whilst there, but we had a brilliant time and loved seeing everyone!

IMG_6842714572630

The week after was my 22nd birthday weekend and I had a few days of celebrations to make the most of it! I went into Oxford on the day itself and then for a family meal in the evening at a gorgeous restaurant called The Blue Boar in Witney. You can read my Trip Advisor review of the restaurant here: http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g504093-d2437859-r250158750-The_Blue_Boar-Witney_Oxfordshire_England.html#REVIEWS

IMG_6881163947017

The next day I headed into London with my best friend to do some major sightseeing and we had such an amazing day! The sun was shining brightly across the Thames and, although it was cold, we made the most of the sunshine and walked everywhere rather than catching the tube which certainly made a difference. We strolled on foot from Westminster to Tower Bridge taking in all the famous landmarks along the way, including St Paul’s cathedral, The Shard, Big Ben and The London Eye. View my write up of my London day out here: https://journeyswithjessica.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/london-day-trip-from-kensington-to-westminster-to-tower-bridge/

IMG_2009306672271IMG_1707276762638

Finally, this weekend I went into Oxford on the Friday night to see a theatre production of The Woman in Black at The Oxford Playhouse which was amazing! The next day I went back into the city centre again for the day to do some shopping but also found myself with a spare few hours to kill whilst waiting for a friend so I decided to turn into a tourist for the day even though I was in my home city! As I’ve grown up around Oxford I’ve never really had chance to do the sightseeing stuff but I really enjoyed myself and got truly immersed in the tourist spirit! I took a wander round the famous university colleges, stumbled across the stunning Radcliffe Camera and took a tour round the incredible Bodleian Library. My blog post on my Oxford day out will be posted in the coming days!

IMG_7252509334039IMG_6780778531395

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve also been busy collaborating with a couple of fellow travel bloggers this month so I’ll be posting updates of those once they’ve been published! Find out more here:

tCWyzMu_Mad_travel_diaries_logo_300

So as you can see I’ve had an incredibly busy January but I’ve loved every second! February is also going to be jam packed for me as I have exciting news.. I’m moving out of home for the first time! I’ll only be moving out for three months but I’m excited at the prospect of having some freedom although I know I won’t want to return home afterwards! We have family coming down in the middle of the month and then I’m off to Prague for a weekend city break on the 27th, so I’ve got plenty to be blogging about!

Speak soon!

Love Jess x

NEW YEAR NEWS!

Blue Happy New Year 2015 Greeting Art Paper Card

Hey everyone,

As it’s a new year I thought I would change a few things on my blog but also bring you a round up of stats that I’ve collected over the past 8 months. Since my blog began back in May 2014 I’ve gained new followers, enjoyed a large social media presence and have continued to build it as much as I can in order to share my adventures with you all.

As a breakdown, my followers on each of my social media sites are as follows:

WordPress – 62 followers/ over 2000 hits

Facebook – 68 Likes

Twitter – 816 followers

Instagram – 161 followers (not bad considering I’ve only had it for two weeks!)

LinkedIn – 222 connections

download Instagram_logo Linkedin-Logo

As you can see, I have quite a large social media following across the board which I am very grateful for but am keen to grow as much as possible in order to increase my audience. Some interesting stats and information on hits to my blog were detailed in my WordPress Review of 2014 which you can of course read separately!

On the more visual side of things I’ve been wanting to get to grips with changing the layout and design on my blog for a while now as I feel this is quite limited and doesn’t allow as much freedom as I’d like. I’ve opted to edit the theme, homepage and navigation tabs on my site and, although I’ve only made a few basic changes, I’m hoping this will make my blog look a little more appealing and will read better on screen whether it be via a standard desktop computer, or a sleek mobile site.

crop edit

edit 2

The main alteration I’ve made is to have a front page section with a navigation panel on the left hand side so my readers can choose which posts they want to read, rather than scroll through them all from the most recent to the oldest. I’m hoping this presents my blog much more clearly and allows room for my About page to be viewed first before any other posts are read. I’ve also included my contact details on the front page which makes it even easier to get in touch so if you have any questions, comments or feedback to pass on to me then I’d love to hear from you!

nye

The great debate on my mind at the moment is whether I should continue using my current WordPress blog that provides me with a service free of charge, or whether I should take the plunge and switch to a self hosted site with more flexibility to create exactly what I want without any limitations. I’ve seen a few other travel bloggers ask the same question and also followed the thread closely to see what the general response is. As far as my initial research goes, most of my fellow bloggers advise paying for a self hosted website to allow the degree of flexibility to heighten as much as I want, but I am unsure of taking this step for a number of reasons…

Firstly, as much as I love my blog, I am yet to start making money from it as a business and very much think of it still as just a hobby as I’m only in the early stages of it’s creation. As I’m not generating any income from my blog I therefore don’t have any expenditure, so am reluctant to spend money on websites and themes if I’m not getting anything back other than a pretty display. Obviously appearance and professionalism is important to me, but my writing style is where my skills lie and is unique to my blog so therefore I can write in whatever format I like as long as people are continuing to read that’s the most important factor! Secondly, I’ve built up quite a large number of hits/followers/likes on my WordPress account and really don’t want to lose these if i switch over to a different site! I love interacting with fellow WordPress bloggers and enjoy the ease of the site, along with the basic features that an IT novice like me can deal with!

blogger

If you have any comments on any aspect of this post or would like to pass on any feedback please please do get in touch. I’d also love to hear any suggestions or opinions on the debate that’s at the forefront of my mind at the moment, so whether you vote WordPress or self hosted I’d love to hear your thoughts!

In another news, it’s actually my 22nd birthday on Friday so I’ve got lots planned for the weekend and I’ll be sure to bring you an update on my adventures soon!

Love Jess x

NB. All images other than my profile photo & screenshots of edits to my blog are courtesy of Google images.

2014 ROUND UP!

DSCN9231   jess  sagrada

Hi everyone, So as we are nearing the end of this year I thought I would round up my highlights of the last twelve months and showcase how much my blog has grown since I started my brand Journeys with Jessica. As many of you know, my blog has only been active for the last six months and I run it alongside my full time job as an estate agent so unfortunately cannot give it my undivided attention although I do try my absolute best to update it as much as I possibly can!

I’ve been on some brilliant trips this year and have loved sharing my adventures with you all, so long may it continue and here’s to more success in 2015! There have been so many to choose from, but my top three highlights of 2014 are as follows:

1) Family holiday to Majorca

2) Winter city break to Reykjavik

3) Summer city break to Barcelona

Please click on the relevant links to view my blog posts for the separate trips! As well as growing my blog I’ve also updated my Trip Advisor account to Senior Contributor with currently over 30,000 readers and have been voted in the top 1%  in Oxfordshire. Please click here to view my Trip Advisor account and to view my travel map!

2014-12-19 08.18.22

I have grown my social media outlets this year and have a record number of followers on Twitter, Facebook and WordPress so that’s all down to you lovely lot! Thank you so much for choosing to keep up to date with all my latest adventures, I hope you continue reading and enjoy my posts – I can’t wait to bring you more in 2015! My current plans for next year are a bit up in the air at the moment, but I am hoping to go interailing around Europe over the summer and will squeeze in lots of city breaks so that I have tonnes to write about whilst getting my latest travel fixes!

Finally, I have made some wonderful friends in the blogosphere over the past 6 months and am excited to take this to the next level when I start attending travel conferences next year. I cant wait to meet some of the people that I have been interacting with recently! A big thanks to you for all your tips, friendly messages and helpful words of advice. Special mentions must go to the lovely Char from Taylor Hearts Travel and to the brilliant Jess from The Travelista as you two have been particularly helpful to me – can’t thank you enough!

That completes my round up for 2014 – it’s been a blast! I would like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and fun-filled 2015… speak soon!!

Love Jess x

metowerbridgeimage