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5 tips for Travelling with an Invisible Illness

Hi guys,

As some of you may know, I have a medical condition called a Prolactinoma, which is a pituitary-related illness affecting different parts of my body. As the pituitary gland is in the brain, most of my symptoms involve headaches, blurred vision and dizziness, all relating to the head/brain area, but it does affect other parts of my body too. Despite sometimes getting overwhelmed and upset by my condition, I mostly have a positive outlook on it, and I sure as hell haven’t let it stop me travelling! Of course, travelling with any illness or condition is difficult, because there’s so much more to think about, however, having an invisible illness brings a whole host of other challenges as you are not easily recognisable as being ill. If you look on my Instagram page you’d think I’m just a smiley happy kinda girl who spends her life being positive and adventurous, which I am to a certain extent, but there are times when I can barely open my eyes because my headaches are so bad, and there are times when I feel I can’t even get out of bed, let alone get up and face the world. Having said that, I strongly believe that having an invisible illness shouldn’t stop you from travelling and having adventures though, so here are five tips for travelling with an invisible illness…

Make sure you’re covered

Insurance is a vital part of travel, but even more so when you have a pre-existing medical condition. Thankfully, it doesn’t mean you won’t get cover, it just might require a little more research into which cover will be best for you. Never scrimp out on travel insurance, especially not with an illness or condition. The best case scenario is that you won’t need it, but if you do, at least you know you’re covered and won’t be left with a huge bill at the end. Did you know, for example, that one week in hospital in the USA can cost over $30,000? Make sure you’re open and honest with your insurer about any illness so you’re fully covered. You may pay a little more in premiums, but it’s better than spending that kinda money on a hospital visit. This is something I was really serious about when I booked my whirlwind tour of the USA and I was able to find insurance no problem, you’ve just got to be transparent and honest!

 

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October is National Pituitary Awareness Month. As a proud ambassador for the wonderful @pituitaryfoundation I thought now would be the right time to write a bit of a personal blog post and to tell you about what it's really like to live with an invisible illness day in day out. My invisible illness is called a prolactinoma, a benign brain tumor which has had a massive impact on my life for the past 7 years. To look at me you may not think that anything is wrong with me, but that's the problem with an invisible illness, it's always there even when you can't see it. ✨Link in bio – please give it a read ✨ #pituitary #pituitaryawareness #prolactinoma #pituitarypatient #pituitaryawarenessmonth

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Pack everything you’ll need 

In this situation, it’s okay to over-pack. Make sure you have all the medications and equipment you might need, even if they’re not things you have to use every day, as it will be much easier than having to try and find them in a different country. Seriously, we take our 25p Ibuprofen and Paracetamol for granted here in the UK, and it costs a lot more when you’re abroad! I didn’t know this, but you’re actually allowed to pack your medication in your hand luggage which is great if you’ve got a long flight and don’t want to wait til you land to take your meds, plus they’re less likely to get lost if you’re carrying them in your hand luggage. I’d also suggest to pack anything that will make you feel more comfortable, whether that be hand warmers or your own pillow, as the easier you can make things for yourself when travelling, the more fun you’ll have and the less stressed you’ll be.

 

 

Schedule in days of rest

Try not to overdo it with the itinerary. As much as we all feel like we want to see and do everything all at once, it’s simply not practical, even without an invisible illness. Choose the things you’re desperate to tick off and see everything else as a bonus. Make sure you schedule in days to rest to avoid burning out as this is just as important as sightseeing. I’m not sure who I’m trying to kid though as I am the WORST person for this! I very much live by a YOLO motto when I’m travelling and try to tick off as much as I can in a short time, which is obviously fun and exciting, but sometimes I do need to remember to reign it in and calm down a little. Sometimes I forget I even have an illness, which is great on the one hand as I can be more care-free, but on the other hand I know I’ve got to be careful and I have to slow it down sometimes to ensure I don’t over do it, so having rest days is really important when you’re travelling.

 

 

Be honest about your needs

If you’re travelling with other people, don’t try to hide your illness; the more honest you can be, the better. This is the same for staff in hotels or in the airport – they can’t help you if they don’t know what you need. An invisible illness is hard to spot, so you’ll have to tell them if there’s something you need to request in order to make your trip easier or more comfortable. Doing this beforehand via email may make it easier, especially if you don’t feel comfortable approaching someone and telling them, but I’ve found that most people in this world are happy to help you, especially if you need a little more assistance than most. I have been honest about my illness since I was first diagnosed 7 years ago, which makes talking about it in public a little less daunting, but I can imagine it is still a huge thing to do for people who have never been as vocal about their conditions before.

 

 

 

Do whatever you need to do

The important thing is that you have a good time, so if that means you have to enjoy the scenery from inside the car because some aspect of your illness means you’re unable to get out, then that’s okay. I know it can be frustrating not doing all the things you set out to do, or not being able to keep up with your friends, but trust your body and allow yourself to listen to your gut instinct as that will tell you how well or unwell you might feel in certain situations. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you can handle – no one knows your body as well as you do. Some people might be well-meaning and try and encourage you to do more than you want to/are able to, and this can lead to exhaustion, or it might make you feel worse. Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns – if they’re real friends they will totally understand what you’re going through.

So I suppose what I’m trying to say is: don’t let your illness stop you from having amazing adventures! In fact, if anything, you deserve to have more fun – being unwell certainly isn’t easy, and we definitely need to learn to pat ourselves on the back every now and then. If you follow these tips, travelling with an invisible illness will hopefully become easier. Plus, once you start, you won’t want to stop! Have you got any other tips for travelling with an invisible illness? I have done it for the past 7 years and with each trip I become more content and confident in myself, and more at ease with my condition. Please let me know if, like me, you’re suffering with an invisible illness too?! I would love to hear your comments.

Love Jess x

NB. This was a collaborative post with Dale White Media.

 

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My Dubrovnik Bucketlist, Croatia’s Crowning Jewel

 

Croatia has been a popular European country for decades, with harbour front resorts, cosmopolitan cities and busy shipping ports at every corner. Croatia is famed for its blue skies, turquoise waters and charming heritage, but its crowning jewel has got to be the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Rising in popularity due to its recent appearances in the blockbuster Game of Thrones series, Dubrovnik is one of the hottest places to visit in 2018. Luckily, I’m going to be there for the first time this summer when I embark on a cruise around the Mediterranean, and I can’t wait to explore this pretty place. So when villa rental company James Villas,who offer fantastic Dubrovnik villas in the city, asked me to put together my Dubrovnik bucket list, I jumped at the chance to create my own itinerary…

 

10.00 – Arrive in Dubrovnik 

 

 

I’ll be arriving in Dubrovnik on a flight from Manchester in the early hours so am pleased that I’ll be able to make the most of having a full day in the city. Once our luggage has been safely delivered to the ship and I’ve refreshed from my flight I’ll be ready and raring to explore the first stop on my cruise!

 

 11.00 – Head to the Old Town

 

The amazing Old Town of Dubrovnik ~ Photo @ccr135

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Nothing screams history like an old town, and if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know how much I love exploring a good ancient area! As Dubrovnik has been high up on my bucket list for ages, I’ve got a good idea of what I want to see, and this historic area is definitely the right place to start. I plan on heading to the market square to look at the stalls, food halls and little cafe’s and shops and will go from there. I’ve heard it’s a cultural hub with incredible architecture and endless cobbled streets, so I can’t wait to kick off the day and explore this area.

 

12.00 – Walk along the ancient City Walls

 

Just magnificent! @miikkanevalainen #dubrovnik

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Dubrovnik is famed for its city walls, and rightly so as they wrap around the entire old town and stretch to over 2000 metres in length. Dating back to the 7th century, the fortifcations were built to defend the city from hostile forces and offer a wealth of history. I’ll be walking as far along the walls as I possibly can in the short amount of time I have and am really looking forward to seeing the city from an elevated position, I think it’ll really help me to get my bearings and get those all important Insta pics of the iconic red roofs and stone buildings!

 

2.00 – Stop for lunch at trendy restaurant Nautika

 

🙂

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A regular haunt of VIP’s and a host of celebs, I’ve heard this restaurant is the place to be to enjoy a spot of fine dining. I’m not sure if my budget will allow it, but I hope to pop by and scout it out whilst I’m in Dubrovnik. Apparently the roof terraces offer the most incredible panoramic views over the crystal clear waters below, so I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of that whilst I visit, even if I don’t end up getting a table! I’m sure there will be plenty of other places to eat though, so I can refuel ready for a few more hours of exploring afterwards.

 

4.00 – Take the cable car up Mount Srd

 

 

I’m not sure I’ll have time to do this one, but I will certainly try my best to fit it in! Cable cars are a brilliant way to see a new city as they offer wonderful views from above and are an exhilarating experience at the same time. I’ve heard it’s a little pricey, but am sure it’ll be worth it when I get to the top and the buildings turn to tiny dots as the Adriatic sea dominates the skyline. There’s also a restaurant/cafe at the summit too, which will be just perfect for snapping as many pics as I can and taking in the incredible 360 degree views… Ahhh I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

 

6.00 – Take some time out on Banje beach

 

 

This will probably be a luxury thing and something I’ll only do if I have time to spare as I’d much rather run around and explore the city instead of laze around on a beach, but this one looks really beautiful and I hope to at least take a few pictures of it, even if I don’t get the chance to soak up some rays. With it’s gorgeous white sands, bright turquoise waters and rocky cliffs, Banje beach looks like a sun worshipper’s haven and I can certainly see why!

 

8.00 – Sink a sundowner whilst watching the sunset

 

Chase the sunset 🌅 Photo @dubrovnikboatcharter

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Watching the sunset is without doubt one of my favourite things to do when exploring a new city, and I know Dubrovnik is going to be an amazing place to do this! I’m going to try and head to a bar with a panoramic roof terrace and grab a cocktail or a glass of fizz whilst watching the sun go down as it casts its orange glow over the buildings and the sea shimmers below. Sounds totally dreamy, doesn’t it?!

 

10.00 – Return to your cruise ship ready for departure

 

 

Phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about this itinerary! After a busy day of exploring I’ll be ready for a good sleep during my first night at sea and will probably welcome a day of rest on the ship the next day. I’ve certainly packed a lot in, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do all of it, but I’m going to try my best to see as much of Dubrovnik as I possibly can and I think it’ll be a great way to kick start my Meditteranean cruise.

 

So this is what my Dubrovnik bucket list currently looks like, and I’m hoping it’s as every bit jam packed as this when the day comes! As you can see, I literally have 12 hours to explore this Croatian gem and want to see as much of it as I possibly can during my time there. Our cruise starts and ends in Dubrovnik, so I may be able to squeeze in a couple more hours of exploring before I head back to the UK, but here’s hoping I can leave with some wonderful memories from my short time in the city. Have you ever been to Dubrovnik before? Let me know if there are any places I’ve missed that should be on my bucket list itinerary! And if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the city, don’t forget to check out Dubrovnik villas with James Villas for a luxury alternative to a traditional hotel break!

NB. This post was sponsored by James Villas, but all thoughts and comments (and this itinerary!) are of course my own.

 

Ready for a sunday walk around the Old Town? Photo @unsettledown

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A Travel Guide to Cornwall: The Capital of the South West

 

Located on the southwestern tip of England, and famed for its sandy beaches, rocky cliffs and glorious bays, the rugged county of Cornwall offers the perfect stay-cation to thousands of holiday makers year after year. The Cornish Riveria is home to popular seaside resorts, beautiful harbour towns and awesome surfing regions too, offering a fun filled family holiday or weekend break. Whether you’re going surfing in Sennen Cove or fishing in Falmouth, you’re sure to have an amazing holiday with so many things to see and do. I’ve been going to Cornwall almost every year since I was a six month old baby and, to this day, I never tire of its beautiful scenery and it’s long sandy beaches. I love Cornwall so much that I thought I’d put together a round up of my top things to do in one of the UK’s most loved go-to getaways at any time of year, and with a little help from the guys over at Clickstay, you can find your dream Cornish holiday home too…

 

Stand on the edge of England at Lands End

 

My whole world in one picture, at our favourite place

 

I don’t know what it is about this place, I can’t help but feel emotional each and every time I visit. I’ve been going to Lands End, the most westerly point of England, for years now; I’ve been as a baby, as a child, as a teenager and as an adult, and each time I go I get the same feeling. I get goosebumps on my arms,  shivers down my spine, and tears running down my cheeks. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve stood near one of the cliff edges, standing alone and just gazing out into the sea, lost in my own thoughts. As the name suggests, standing in those places and looking out to sea literally does make it feel as if you’re standing on the edge of the world, at the place where the land ends, and it’s pretty damn special if you ask me! As well as offering stunning views across to the Atlantic Sea, you’ll also find a whole host of fun things to do for all the family, including exploring one of their interactive exhibitions, playing in the park, visiting the wildlife centre and stopping off at the  shop and large restaurant.

Go surfing in Newquay

 

Image courtesy of Visit Cornwall – I only have hard copy photographs from my time in Newquay a few years ago but  they’re all in the loft!

 

Newquay is perhaps one of the best loved surfing spots in the whole of the UK and for very good reason. With its large sandy beach, crystal clear waters and awesome tidal waves, Newquay provides the perfect surfers paradise and attracts thousands of tourists year after year. Some of the UK’s surfing competitions are held there and their surfers rank amongst some of the highest in the world. There’s more to Newquay than surfing though, with its busy high street and pretty promenade which is popular with locals and tourists alike. This seaside resort is located on the North Atlantic coast of Cornwall and offers one of the best beaches in the entire county. As well as surfing, Newquay is also famed for its vibrant nightlife and is often a hit with men and women on stag and hen do’s looking for a memorable weekend away down on the Cornish coast. The last time I went to Newquay I headed straight to the Sealife Centre to discover some of our beautiful marine life and spent an afternoon in the sunshine devouring homemade ice cream – bliss!

 

Go mermaid spotting in Zennor

 

Image courtesy of Encounter Walking Holidays (I don’t have any pics from my time in Zennor when I was a little girl!)

 

I love a good fairytale, and Cornwall has myths and legends at every corner, which is one of the main reasons I find it so magical! The Zennor Mermaid is something that has fascinated me since I was a little girl, and it still continues to do so even now… Legend has it that Mathey Trewella, son of the local churchwarden, became transfixed with a female parishioner who attended services and sang every hymn sweeter than all the rest. With her enchanting beauty and haunting voice, Mathey followed her home and was never seen at Zennor Church again. Years passed and, one Sunday, a ship allegedly cast anchor in a nearby cove prompting a mermaid to rise from the ocean and beg for the anchor to be removed as it was trapping her home beneath the sea. Recoiling in horror, the sailor quickly set sail believing that the mermaid was an ill omen and that she would curse them. When the villagers heard of this, they agreed that the mermaid was the same lady who had long visited their church, and that she had enticed Mathey Trewella to come and live with her under the sea. Today, the famous “mermaid chair” at St. Senara’s Church can still be seen and is one of the popular tourist attractions in Cornwall, putting Zennor firmly on the map for centuries to come.

 

Go back in time at Tintagel Castle

 

Image courtesy of English Heritage – sadly I haven’t managed to get to Tintagel yet!

 

This medieval fortress is one of the best known in the whole of England, and one of the most visited too. Located in North Cornwall, Tintagel Castle was built in the 13th century by Richard, first Earl of Cornwall, and was settled during the early Medieval period. The castle was believed to have fallen into disrepair and was left to rot for hundreds of years before archaeological investigation on the site began in the 19th century. Like many castles in England, Tintagel was linked to yet another hisotric myth, this time the legend of King Arthur, where the castle was believed to be the place of his conception. Since the mid 1900s the castle has been turned into a major tourist attraction and is now owned by Prince Charles and managed by English Heritage.

 

Celebrate the New Year on St Ives Harbour

 

Fireworks over the beach on NYE

 

I’ve only actually done this once, and I can’t believe I haven’t done it more times if I’m honest! I love celebrating New Years, even more than I love Christmas, because I love the idea of reflecting on the past year but also looking forward to the next year ahead too.  My family and I celebrate NYE together every single year and last year we went to St Ives for the first time during the festive period. It’s an old tradition for everyone in St Ives to wear fancy dress on new years eve, with literally EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the town going all out and dressing up – you end up looking pretty stupid if you DON’T dress up so we knew we had to go hard, or go home! Once we’d picked our outfits we headed down to the main street to do a pub crawl. Everyone tends to have the same idea and it’s so much fun looking at all the different outfits – I was people watching til my heart was content! Just before midnight everyone runs down to the harbour to get their spot for watching the fireworks over the sea, and there’s then a marching band that goes on parade up and down the harbour front and off onto the cobbled side streets. The whole night was amazing and we had so much fun! I would highly recommend St Ives for NYE for a quirky, alternative place to go – it definitely beats queuing in clubs and paying for overpriced drinks!

 

So there we have it, just a few of my top picks for your visit to this beautiful county. Whether you’re off surfing, rock pooling or standing on the edge of England, you’ll be sure to have a fantastic time. Have you ever visited Cornwall before? I’d love to know what you thought of it! Don’t forget to find your dream holiday home with Clickstay to make your holiday extra special.

Love Jess x

NB. This post was brought to you in collaboration with holiday rental company Clickstay, but all thoughts & comments are of course my own.