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How to Become a Digital Nomad: 6 of the Best Online Courses

Online courses. Digital Nomad. Remote worker. Fulltime freelancer. These expressions are very common in the online world. If the idea of working 9-5 in an office scares the hell out of you, life as a digital nomad will have surely crossed your mind at some point. It has mine. I spent the best part of a year and a half working freelance when I ran my own travel blogging/content creation company, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. As well as the flexibility of being able to work where I wanted, when I wanted, I loved the freedom that being a digital nomad gave me. I didn’t have to worry about limited annual leave, or about taking time off for a doctors appointment, I simply just worked whenever I was able to, and chose not to work when I fancied some time off.

 

 

The digital nomad life is not for everyone though, and it was incredibly tough at times. If I’m honest, although it was amazing at the start, I really struggled for the last six months of my 18 month freelance life and made the decision to go back to full time work shortly after. I found I was constantly hustling, constantly pitching. I had visions that being a full time travel blogger meant I went on back to back press trips, writing hotel reviews and destination guides left, right and centre. But in reality, hardly any of my income came from press trips/sponsored blog content, and the majority of what I earnt was through social media management from clients that weren’t in the travel industry. I woke up late and went to bed late because I had no routine. I needed structure in my life, and a 9-5 job gave me that, so I started working in luxury travel in September 2017 and have been grateful to enjoy a fulfilling career until Covid-19 ruined the travel industry!

But lets go back to the digital nomad life for a second. If I had more determination, more consistency and perhaps a little more time to make it work, I have no doubt in my mind that I would largely still enjoy being a freelancer. I just wish I’d had more of a niche, and perhaps more transferable skills or multiple income streams, that would have made it work better for me. Having worked for both myself and for others, there are so many benefits to freelance life that you just don’t get when you’re an employee for a company. However, in order for your career as a digital nomad to be as successful as possible, I think it is absolutely KEY to invest in yourself, and your future.  By constantly learning new skills you can apply new experience to every role you take. As well as networking and attending events, I found that online courses were also a fantastic way to learn new skills and build my confidence. So, without further ado, here are 6 of the best online courses to help you on your way to being able to work from anywhere in the world…

 

An English teaching course with The TEFL Academy

 

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☺️ Meet alumna @eslroxy! Roxy is from Australia 🇦🇺, currently teaching online in Scotland with Palfish. ⠀ ⠀ "I've been teaching online for a few months now and I love it! I have been inundated with job offers from different companies thanks to my level 5 TEFL Certificate and the help from The TEFL Academy with re-writing my resume. I teach kids from all over the world and have already formed a solid base of regular students. I can work part time and maintain a full time salary which gives me the ability to do more of the things I love!" 👏⠀ ⠀ #teach #teacher #teachenglishonline #teachenglish #teaching #teacherlife #teachers #onlineenglishteachers #remotework #remoteteaching #remoteteacher #tefl #teflteacher #efl #eflteacher #teachersofig #remoteworker #teflteacher

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During lockdown I promised myself I would finally enrol on my first ever TEFL course after putting it off for months! Back in April I finally took the plunge and enrolled on my level 5 168 hour TEFL online course to teach English as a foreign language. Whilst I was on furlough for three months I dedicated a lot of my time to doing my course, and I have very nearly finished it with just one unit and one assignment to go before I’m qualified! I cannot wait to get my certificate and would really recommend doing a TEFL course to anyone looking for another way of diversifying their income and taking a step towards digital nomad life. Once qualified, there are plenty of online teaching platforms you can choose from so you can teach adults or children from the comfort of your living room and start earning money whilst teaching from your laptop.

 

An SEO blogging course with Make Traffic Happen

 

 

Run my two full time bloggers and SEO consultants, Make Traffic Happen is allllll about keywords, optimisation and Google rankings. After attending a couple of Gemma and Laura’s SEO talks at various Traverse conferences over the past few years, I felt inspired to learn more about how to optimise my blog. SEO the Easy Way, one of Make Traffic Happen’s most popular online courses, gives a fantastic introduction to the world of SEO and how to implement strategies that will make your website traffic skyrocket. There are 35 video lectures, 16 worksheets and 7 checklists to track your progress as you go, and you’ll be sure to notice an improvement of web traffic as you make y0ur way through the course. Admittedly I haven’t actually downloaded the course or the e-book yet, but I am a member of the Facebook group and find some of their posts incredibly helpful, and I have a few friends who have downloaded the course too. This course will be hugely beneficial if you’re looking to increase your web traffic and, in turn, maximise opportunities to monetize your blog.

 

A marketing course with The Open University

 

 

During lockdown The Open University offered free access to hundreds of online courses across a range of industries, with marketing being one of the most notable. The idea was to encourage the th0usands of people on furlough in the UK to do something useful and interesting during their free time whilst they weren’t working, and what better way to do that than to learn something new! Throwing yourself into a new course is always a great idea, and if it’s online it means you can study at your own pace, however slow or fast you like depending on how busy you are. The free courses have unfortunately now ended, but OU still offers plenty of online courses to get stuck into, with their marketing ones proving popular. Improve your social media knowledge, gain an understanding into how brand campaigns work or specialise in digital marketing.

 

A language course with Duolingo

 

 

I downloaded the Duolingo app a couple of years ago when I was trying to re-learn Spanish and practice my fluency. I took Spanish for GCSE and earned a B grade in my written and speaking exams but didn’t take it at A Level, which is something I really wish I had done! I was struggling with websites or audio books which made learning Spanish feel fun and easy, until I discovered the Duolingo app and I instantly became hooked! With daily levels which can be unlocked as quickly or as slowly as you like, and both audio and visual prompts to encourage different learning styles, understanding the basics of a new language has never been easier with Duolingo, and it’s totally free to use!

 

A Photoshop course with Adobe 

 

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Hey guys, @georgiarosehardy here! I'm very honored to be doing this week's takeover for the theme #Ps_Imagine.⁠ •⁠ When people ask what I do for a living, I'm often unsure how to answer. Am I a photographer? A digital artist? An escape artist? A weirdo in a field with a tripod? The lines are definitely blurred. I started shooting self-portraits at the tender age of 16, and I'm now nearly 30! The ability to create magical worlds (as a teenager with a low budget) was transformational for me, in more ways than one. It's given me a career, been therapy through the challenges life has thrown, and makes up a large portion of my identity.⁠ •⁠ I am so looking forward to sharing more of my journey and work with you all and seeing the different ideas people come up with for #Ps_Imagine! Thanks so much for having me, Photoshop.

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Photoshop is one of the best tools out there for editing images, and if you want to start making money from your prints, it’s a good idea to invest in some training with Adobe first. Choose from a wide range of beginner, intermediate and advanced online courses to suit your needs depending on which learning level you’re at. Becoming a bit of a professional with Photoshop means you’ll learn how to become an expert in image editing and can really show off your creative photography skills. If you specialise in Instagram and want to take your account to the next level, these online courses will be right up your street.

 

A social media course with Buffer

 

 

Much like the Open University, Buffer often offers a multitude of free online courses to help you grow your skill set, but these are available throughout the year, not just during lockdown! Specialising in social media and marketing, Buffer’s fun and interactive online courses are perfect for delving deeper into the digital world and discovering algorithms and trends within social media platforms. Whether you’re more interested in Facebook or Twitter, or keen to learn more about strategies than advertising, Buffer’s insightful online courses are the perfect place to kick-start your social media learning.

 

I hope this selection of online courses help inspire you to think about which path you want to take in order to obtain that digital nomad life. There are plenty of free online courses out there which you can take alongside your day job so you can earn whilst you learn, and even the ones that aren’t free should still provide an excellent return of investment once you’re qualified/certified and can use those transferable skills. Have you ever taken any of these online courses before? I would love to know if any of them have brought you one step closer to your dream of being a full time freelancer!

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How to Spend a Weekend in the Cotswolds: A Cotswolds Road Trip Itinerary

Having lived in Oxfordshire my entire life, and having blogged for over six years, I have no idea how it has taken me this long to write up my suggestions for a Cotswolds road trip itinerary. I think that, because I have grown up here, I have taken it totally for granted, and I have always prioritised writing about my overseas trips in comparison to favouring UK content. However, with UK staycations becoming increasingly popular post-lockdown, I figured now was the perfect time to help you plan a spectacular Cotswolds road trip itinerary. All these places are hand-picked and I have visited them all over the past 27 years. Here’s how to spend a weekend in the Cotswolds, including everything to see and do in the various towns and villages, as well as plenty of recommendations of where to eat and drink too!

 

 

Day 1 (Friday)

I have based this Cotswolds road trip itinerary on having 3 nights from Friday-Sunday so that you can really make the most of your time in the Cotswolds and see as much as possible. If you don’t have the time, it can of course be cut down to 1 or 2 nights depending on which places you want to see, so you can remove the areas you might have visited already or aren’t too bothered about, but this itinerary is a great place to start if you’re totally new to this neck of the woods. It is also worth pointing out that this itinerary only really works if you have a car. If you don’t have one and are arriving by train or plane into London (1hr by train from Oxford or 2hrs by car) I would really recommend that you hire one as public transport isn’t one of our strong points down here!

 

Burford, Oxfordshire

 

 

Assuming you’re travelling to the Cotswolds on the Friday, either morning or afternoon, I would 100% recommend starting in Burford and basing yourself here for the duration of your stay. Perched on a medieval hill and also known as the ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’, Burford is conveniently located just off the A40, allowing easy access to the likes of Oxford, Cirencester, Cheltenham and more. I went to school and sixth form in Burford for seven years so I am totally biased, but I just love it so much and it is definitely not to be missed off your Cotswolds road trip itinerary! Highlights include Huffkins tea rooms (they do the best cakes), the stunning St John the Baptist church at the bottom of the hill, and the upmarket Burford Garden Centre, frequented by many a local celeb. Cotswold Wildlife Park, just a few minutes outside of Burford, is also well worth a visit if you have time and are looking for a family day out.

 

Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire

 

 

After having lunch and wandering around Burford, head over to nearby Bourton on the Water (15 min drive) for a lovely stroll around one of the best loved villages in the Cotswolds. Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, Bourton is brimming with boutique shops, classic tea rooms and cosy pubs. Bourton is home to many different bridges that stretch across the river Windrush and the water is at the heart of this village. Travelling with kids? You won’t want to miss Birdland, an enormous wildlife park with penguins, pelicans and parrots, home to over 500 bird species. In the height of summer Bourton is very busy with tourists, so get away from the crowds and take a countryside hike out to Upper and Lower Slaughter instead – these picturesque villages are a must on any Cotswolds road trip itinerary.

 

 

Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire

 

 

On your way back from Bourton, make a stop at the historic market town of Stow on the Wold. Brimming with cafe’s, shops and restaurants, this place is classic Cotswolds in a nutshell and is worth a visit, although there isn’t a huge amount to do. St Edward’s Church, with its heavy oak doors, is said to inspire JRR Tolkien’s Doors of Durin in the Lord of the Rings, and makes a perfect photo opportunity. I’d also recommend a stroll down the high street so you can dip in and out of the many antique shops, as well as an evening meal at either The Old Butchers or The Queen’s Head, serving delicious dinners until late.

 

Day 2 (Saturday)

After a busy first day of your weekend in the Cotswolds, today is no different as you explore a whole host of famous chocolate box villages. Continue exploring more of pretty Gloucestershire as you tick more Cotswolds landmarks off your bucket-list. This itinerary still works well if you’re staying in Burford, as I have previously mentioned, but stays at either Cheltenham or Gloucester would work fine too. Don’t forget that you’ll still need a car to get around as transport links between these places are pretty non-existent!

Broadway, Worcestershire

 

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Beautiful day out at Broadway Tower… how have I lived in the Cotswolds my entire life but never been here before?! 😍 Exploring new places close to home is how I've been spending my lockdown and I'm going to continue it over the coming weeks and months too! I just love discovering more of our beautiful country 🇬🇧 . . . #broadway #broadwayuk #broadwaytower #broadwaycotswolds #worcestershire #igersbroadway #cotswolds #thecotswolds #igerscotswolds #discovercotswolds #cotswoldslife #cotswoldway #cotswoldsuk #cotswoldvillages #visitcotswolds #visitengland #visitbritain #lovegreatbritain #weloveengland #england #england_insta #englandmylove #englandtravel #britishsnaps #englandtourism #bbcbritain #capturingbritain #scenicbritain #beautifulbritain

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Somewhere I have only visited recently is beautiful Broadway and it’s famous tower. Broadway is a stunning market town lined with honey coloured cottages, antique shops and cutesy cafe’s and is one of the most visited spots in the Cotswolds. It can get super touristy and really quite busy on weekends, so I would recommend going first thing in the morning or later on in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. No visit to Broadway is complete without a stop off at Broadway Tower, a few minutes drive (or approx an hour’s walk) away. Completed in 1798, this Saxon designed tower is a museum/viewpoint housing historic exhibitions and boasting stunning views. Climb to the top and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views reaching as far as 16 counties, as well as an aerial view of the resident red deer in the park below. There are many circular walks you can take at Broadway Tower, along with a shop, cafe and interesting nuclear bunker onsite too.

 

Cotswold Lavender Farm, Gloucestershire

 

 

Located just a 4 minute drive from Broadway Tower, close to the teeny tiny village of Snowshill, Cotswold Lavender is one of the most instagrammable places in Gloucestershire. A must visit for any Cotswold road trip itinerary during, a stop off at Cotswold Lavender makes a great addition to a day out in Broadway. For just £4 you can access the beautiful lavender farm and walk along the many rows of gorgeous lilac flowers that stretch as far as the eye can see, but please bear in mind that the farm is only open from mid June – early August. There’s also a vibrant yellow field right next to the lavender too, which is perfect for even more photos. Dogs are welcome if they are kept on leads, and there’s also a small shop and distillery on site if you want to purchase some pretty lavender infused goods! If you have time, drive 3 mins down the road to nearby Snowshill and enjoy a drink or a pub lunch at the Snowshill Arms.

 

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

 

 

Famed for its annual race days, Cheltenham is a great place to while away a few hours on your weekend in the Cotswolds. On your way back from Cotswold Lavender/Broadway, stop off in Cheltenham for an afternoon of shopping or fine dining. Regent Arcade and the Promenade are great for high street and designer shops, whilst the Brewery Quarter and Montpellier are the best places to find all your favourite restaurants – The Ivy is a particular favourite of mine! Enjoy an ice cream at Imperial Gardens if the weather is good, and look out for the Neptune Fountain just around the corner. If you have time, head to nearby Bishops Cleeve to walk up Cleeve Hill which boasts impressive panoramic views over the valley below.

 

Bibury, Gloucestershire

 

 

Make beautiful Bibury your last stop of the day before you head back to your accommodation for the evening. Perched on the river Coln, Bibury is a very small village but is hugely popular with tourists. Lined with iconic Cotswold stone cottages, Arlington Row attracts coachloads of visitors at the height of summer, so avoid going in the middle of the day and head out late afternoon/early evening instead. Walk around the village over the bridge and past the trout farm, where you can spot plenty of rainbow trout splashing in the stream below. Round off your day with an evening meal at either The Swan or The Catherine Wheel, both perfectly located in the centre of Bibury and both offering delicious lunches and dinners.

 

Day 3 (Sunday) 

 

It’s the third and final day of your Cotswolds road trip itinerary, and I’ve only added two morning stops so that you can spend the majority of the day exploring beautiful Oxford! Head out on an early morning walk to Minster Lovell before stopping for brunch in Woodstock where you’ll then wander around Blenheim Palace. From there head into Oxford to marvel at its university buildings and dreaming spires. You could easily spend 2 whole days in Oxford, but I’ve listed the highlights below for you and these can easily be done in a day if you’ve got your walking shoes on!

 

Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire

 

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I hope you've had a lovely Easter weekend staying at home 🏡 Every time I walk past this gorgeous cottage I want to live there! Haven't been to this little village in #Oxfordshire since we went into lockdown 3 weeks ago, and I can't wait for the day when we are able to drive 10 mins to the next village/town to enjoy a long walk or a pub lunch rather than being confined to our back gardens for the foreseeable future ✨ This easter has been a little different – last year I had just got back from being in Australia – but when all of this is over, I'll look back and be so grateful that I have my family, my health, a lovely home & 2 pretty gardens to enjoy in the sunshine ☀️ Whatever happens over the next few weeks, we must continue to #stayhome ❤️ The world will be waiting for you to visit when we are able to, and the #Cotswolds certainly isn't going anywhere 🌎 . . . #happyeaster #uklockdown #minsterlovell #littleminster #lovethecotswolds #cotswoldstyle #thecotswolds #loveoxfordshire #weloveengland #visitbritain #instatravel #lovegreatbritain #capturingbritain #photosofbritain #loveengland #photosofengland #visitengland #thisisengland #igersengland #igersuk #igersoxfordshire #cotswoldslife #oxford #experienceoxfordshire #oxfordshire #countryside #oxfordshirelife #travelblogger

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The first stop on the last day of your weekend in the Cotswolds is Old Minster Lovell, a tiny Oxfordshire village located near the market town of Witney (also worth a visit if you have time). Park at the Wash Meadow and walk across the fields to Minster Lovell Hall & Dovecote, the ruins of a 15th century Oxfordshire manor house. Complete with crumbling hall, tower and nearby dovecote, the ruins date back to the 1430s when they were built by William Lovell, one of the richest men in England at that time. Occupying a peaceful setting beside the River Windrush, you can take a walk in the nearby woods before circling back to the car park via St Kenelm’s Church and passing the gorgeous cottages that line the main road.

 

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

 

 

Before you head into Oxford, I’d really recommend spending an hour or so at beautiful Blenheim Palace, one of the most famous palaces in the country, and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Book in advance if you want to check out the state rooms inside the palace itself, otherwise you can turn up on the day to explore the grounds and gardens. With history spanning 300 years, there’s plenty to see and do during your visit to Blenheim. Check out the ‘finest view in England’ (according to Churchill) as you stroll around the grounds past the enormous lake, or let the kids run riot in the maze and pleasure gardens.

 

Oxford, Oxfordshire 

 

 

In my humble opinion, no visit to the Cotswolds is complete without a day trip to the dreaming spires of Oxford! Famed for its historic university, its enviable location on the river Thames and its secret Harry Potter filming locations, Oxford makes a fantastic place to end your weekend in the Cotswolds. As well as visiting the iconic college buildings, be sure to tick the Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library, Sheldonian Theatre and Bridge of Sighs off your Oxford bucket list. All that walking will have you working up a thirst, so I’d highly recommend stopping at rooftop bar The Varsity Club to enjoy a drink with a view of the spires in the distance. The Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean museums (both free entry) are worth a visit if you have time, and don’t forget to head to the newly opened Westgate Centre to get your shopping fix (there are lots of rooftop bars/restaurants there too). You can read more about things to do in Oxford in my other blog post, but you can definitely see most of the sights in a day! Finish up with a hearty meal at The Chequers, just off the high street, and indulge in yummy pub grub at the heart of the city centre.

 

So there we have it, a bumper guide on how to spend a weekend in the Cotswolds. I really hope this helps you to start planning your Cotswolds road trip itinerary and gives you plenty of travel inspo. I’m well aware that this itinerary is completely jam packed and I have probably included way too many stops for a short three night break in the Cotswolds, but I really want to share all my favourite places with you as there are SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM!! This itinerary therefore is of course totally adaptable, so feel free to remove or add any places that you do or don’t want to see depending on how much time you have. A weekend in the Cotswolds is a lovely idea for a UK staycation, and there’s so much to see that you’ll struggle to fit it all in, but that just gives you all the more reason to come back again another time!

Have you been to the Cotswolds before? I’d love to know which parts you’ve visited!

 

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100 Days of UK Lockdown: How Coronavirus Has Changed My Life

Day 100 of UK lockdown. Can you believe we have been officially locked down for 100 days now? I can. It feels like day 1000 though, not day 100. Everyone has either made TikTok videos, baked banana breads or played virtual Zoom quizzes. Remember that Houseparty app right at the start? Nope, me niether! In some ways it’s gone quickly, but when I think back to the 23rd of March, the day Boris Johnson announced the country was to go into immediate lockdown, it feels like a lifetime ago. So much has changed since then. In the world, in the country, in my life. Coronavirus has turned our planet upside down, and I didn’t realise how much of an impact it would have upon me personally too. Although it’s been a tough three months, there have been some happy times too. I wanted to show the good, the bad and the ugly on this blog post so I can look back in a year’s time and remind myself of how I coped during lockdown. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past 100 days of UK lockdown, and how Coronavirus has totally changed my life…

 

The Positives:

I’ve bought a house

 

 

 

Ok let’s start with some good news because something very exciting happened to me during these 100 days of UK lockdown… I only went and bought a HOUSE!! After saving up a deposit for the past 5 years, I have finally decided to put down some roots here in beautiful Oxfordshire and have bought a 2 bed house with my sister Hannah. After our offer got accepted at the end of November, little over 6 months later, on 1st May 2020, we completed our purchase and collected our keys from the estate agents (socially distanced, of course!) Over the past 8 weeks we have completely transformed what was once a run down, neglected property in to a pretty little semi detached house that is now our cosy home! Huge thanks to our mum, dad and our sister Sophie for all their help with painting/cleaning/gardening over the past 2 months – we absolutely could not have done it without you!

 

I’ve gained a qualification (almost!)

 

 

I’ve had to put almost because the qualification isn’t quite mine yet, but in April I enrolled on a course with to become an online English teacher and I am so so close to finishing it! I’m currently on unit 9 of 10 and have completed 2 assignments out of 3, so I just have 1 unit and 1 assignment to go before the course is finished and I am qualified to teach English online as a foreign language. I have thought about being an online English teacher for a while now but have never really had the time to dedicate to an intensive course before, so spending 100 days of UK lockdown putting my energy into something new has been really fulfilling and I am hopeful that I can start teaching online as soon as I am qualified! The course I am taking is the Level 5 168 hour one with the TEFL Academy, which is the UK’s leading level 5 course and is the most recognised in terms of quality. I was inspired by my friend and fellow blogger Gabbi to take up the course this year after seeing her become an online English teacher with mobile company Palfish, and her fab blog post exactly explains how she did it – it’s well worth a read if you are thinking of becoming an online English teacher too.

 

I’ve become a volunteer

 

 

As soon as the government announced they needed 250,000 volunteers for their nationwide NHS Volunteer Responder programme, I signed up right away. I knew I wanted to try and help people during this pandemic, and really wanted to do something useful and worthwhile during my time on furlough. After a whopping 750,000 people signed up (!!) I was chosen to be a Check in & Chat volunteer through the NHS /Royal Voluntary Service and I was even featured in this news story by the Daily Mail. I have spent the past 12 weeks taking calls from people who are isolating and just want a friendly chat with someone to brighten up their day, which I have enjoyed so much! As well as being an NHS volunteer, I am now a volunteer within my local community and have been collecting and delivering shopping and prescriptions to local people in my town who are shielding/vulnerable. Finally, I have also been doing some remote work and fundraising for The Pituitary Foundation, the charity I am an ambassador for, and it has been an honour to help them through these tough times. Being a volunteer for these 3 organisations has been extremely rewarding during the past 100 days of UK lockdown and I hope I can continue to help them even after Coronavirus is over.

 

I’ve spent quality time with my family

 

 

Despite moving house and leaving my family home, I have been able to spend sooo much time with my mum, dad and sisters during these 100 days of UK lockdown and it has been an absolute blessing. We are a very close family anyway, but this has just brought us even closer together. We’ve watched film after film, enjoyed many a countryside dog walk here in our beautiful county of Oxfordshire and have done more after dinner quizzes than we care to remember! A particular highlight of ours was celebrating VE Day sharing afternoon tea and prosecco in our garden with our lovely neighbour across the wall! The sun was shining, We’ll Meet Again was playing on the radio and it was such a beautiful day. It has been really fun to spend more time at home during lockdown and it definitely gave us more quality time to enjoy together before Hannah and I moved into our new home last weekend.

 

 

The Negatives:

I’ve lost my confidence

 

 

Although there have been a lot of positives from the past 100 days of UK lockdown, there have undoubtedly been some low points too. I’m not sure why, but I just feel like I have totally lost my confidence with certain aspects of my life, including the way I look, how my low moods make me feel and how I have not exactly been successful with finding a new relationship lately. This pandemic caught us completely unawares, and I was at a point in my life where I was really happy with how my work and personal life were going, but now it feels as though all of that has been taken away and it has definitely knocked me for six. Here’s hoping things improve once Coronavirus is over. One thing that has helped massively though is walking, I have been enjoying so many walks in the countryside and it’s definitely helped to improve my state of mind (and my fitness!)

 

I’m possibly being made redundant 

 

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New week, new month, new JOB! 😬 Eeeek been keeping this under wraps for a little while, but today's the day I start my brand new job at a luxury travel company in Witney. 🌎 I'm so excited to have swapped a 2hr daily commute for a drive that takes me just 8 minutes to get to my new office 🙈 Instead of finishing at 5:30 and not getting home til nearly 7 I'll actually be home before 5:30 which means I can actually have a social life in the evenings and can fit it around working part time on my blog too ❤️ So excited for my new chapter to begin, after 4 months of travelling and spending way too much money I can't wait to get into a proper routine again and start settling down (kind of 😉) Operation 'Jess is saving up for a house' has been resumed! 🏡 #MondayMotivation #NewJob #NewChapter #WishMeLuck

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Another reason for me feeling so weird lately is because tomorrow I will find out whether or not I have been made redundant from my job. On the day that would have been my 1 year work anniversary, I will be told whether or not I will be staying or going, and I am just completely gutted! I absolutely adore my job at a local luxury travel company in Oxfordshire and the thought of losing it is filling me with dread. I have no idea what the outcome will be tomorrow, but whatever happens I just have to remember that everything happens for a reason. As one door closes, another one opens, so I will be keeping that mindset tomorrow and crossing fingers that things will turn out okay.

 

I’ve missed my old life

 

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Another Monday, another week of lockdown! I think we are on day 89 of lockdown now but it definitely feels more like day 889 😳 As the weeks go on, I start to get abit restless and miss life being 'normal'. I miss going on day trips and weekends away and holidays. I am however feeling really anxious about the idea of travelling again, and I'm pretty sure I won't be setting foot on a plane until at least next summer! ✈️ But in order to get my wanderlust fix I'm planning on taking a few UK staycations right here, whenever we are able to travel safely around the country again 🚘 There are so many places in Britain I haven't been to yet, so I've put together my ultimate UK travel wishlist which you can read right now on the blog! (Link in bio) 💻 Where's your favourite place in the UK? I can't wait to explore more of our home shores. In the meantime, here's a throwback of me loving life and running around the beautiful Lake District last summer 🇬🇧 . . . #lakedistrict #thelakes #lakedistrictlife #lakedistrictnationalpark #lakedistrictuk #lakedistrictwalks #lakedistrictcumbria #igerslakedistrict #cumbria #cumbrialife #visitcumbria #igerscumbria #cumbrianfells #england #weloveengland #visitengland #englandtravel #england_insta #englandtourism #englishlakes #englishtravel #lovegreatbritain #visitbritain #instabritain #bbcbritain #greatbritain #capturingbritain #beautifulbritain #uktravel #ukshots

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When I feel a bit down I start to reminisce and think about my past, and sometimes it’s nice to sit back and reflect but other times it really does get me down. I think about things I did in the past which I really took for granted, like going out for a meal with my friends or popping to the pub for a few drinks on a Friday night. I also miss travelling a LOT. Last year I spent 13 weeks abroad visiting Australia, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Latvia. Not leaving the country since December has kind of got to me this week, and I really miss going on holiday! I have decided, however, that I definitely don’t want to venture abroad until 2021, but I am looking forward to planning plenty of UK staycations to satisfy my wanderlust until I can travel properly again. There are sooo many places that I haven’t explored in this country yet, so I’m going to try and tick as many places off my British bucketlist as I can during the rest of 2020 (if I am able to!)

 

I’m worried about my future

 

 

I think my biggest worry at the moment is the thought of losing my job. Without my job, and my regular income, I cannot pay my mortgage, my bills or my car finance which is something that is making me super stressed. It is such bad timing having just bought a house, but I do have some savings which should tide me over for a couple of months. If the inevitable happens and I do get made redundant I know I’ll have to get another job asap, whether it’s working in a supermarket, taking temp jobs or working in retail until something more permanent comes along, although there are not many jobs in my area at all at the moment. I just feel a bit in limbo and don’t really know what to do so I will probably make a decision about what type of work I want to apply for next week. Times are strange at the moment, aren’t they! Fingers crossed it’ll all work out in the end.

 

It’s been a whirlwind, hasn’t it? The past 100 days of UK lockdown has been a huge challenge for me, and it has affected me much more than I thought it would. Some days I wake up totally fine and feel grateful to have my health and my family. Other days I feel so low I don’t even want to get out of bed. I try to remind myself that it’s okay to feel that way. We’re still in the midst of a global pandemic. We’ve never experienced anything like this before. However, with no end in sight, and no vaccine, I have to admit I am finding it increasingly difficult to stay positive. I know these feelings will pass, but right now I am struggling. I am not ashamed to admit that. If you’re feeling the same as me, please remember that it’s okay not to be okay.

Here’s to a more positive few weeks in the hope that Coronavirus will leave us all alone very soon! Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and well and that you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post!

Love Jess x

 

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Looking back on 6 YEARS OF TRAVEL BLOGGING!! I can't believe Journeys with Jessica turns 6 today! 🎈 Seeing as we can't travel anywhere anytime soon I've been looking back at some of my adventures and reminiscing about my favourite trips from the past 6 years ✈️ I'm lucky enough to have explored 30 countries, spent 5 weeks road tripping across America, 6 weeks roaming around Australia and countless weeks inter-railing all over Europe during the past 6 years and I wouldn't change a single thing ❤️ When I started my blog I just wanted somewhere to write down my thoughts and to share my trips with friends and family. Little did I know that it would soon be read by almost 7,000 people a month and I'd clock up nearly 10,000 followers on social media, and that I would meet so many amazing people along the way because of it! ✨ Starting my blog was the best thing I ever did and, although I'm missing travel and am excited to explore new places again one day, right now I just want to focus on planning some U.K. adventures that I can enjoy once all of this is over! My favourite place in our beautiful country is Cornwall, and I'm just itching to get back there to enjoy the sea when it is safe to be able to do so! 🌎 But for now I'll stay at home and reminisce about my past trips, like I've done in my recent blog post, which you can read right now! (Link in bio) 💻 Thankyou SO much for everyone who's ever read my blog, it means the absolute world to me. Here's to the next six years! 🌎

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My UK Travel Wishlist: 10 Places for a UK Staycation

As we enter the 13th week of lockdown here in the UK, I’ve slowly started thinking about the idea of travelling again. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be jumping on a plane anytime soon, but I am hoping to travel to a few places in the UK whenever we are able to. At the time of writing, we are currently not allowed to stay overnight anywhere in Britain, and we’re encouraged not to take any day trips or make any ‘non-essential journeys’. When lockdown is over and we are able to roam around the country again, I can’t wait to spend time exploring places I’ve never been to in our British isles. I’m grateful to have visited a huge portion of the UK over the past 27 years, but there are still so many places I’ve yet to discover. With that in mind, I thought I’d put together my ultimate UK travel wishlist so I can plan some day trips and staycations closer to home, post-lockdown of course. Here are 10 places in the UK that I’m just itching to visit whenever we are able to…

 

Stonehenge, England

 

 

This one feels pretty fitting as it was the Stonehenge Summer Solstice this weekend, celebrating the longest day of the year. I have driven past Stonehenge many times before on the way down to Cornwall and Devon but never actually stopped off and visited for the day. I would love to visit whilst en route to Southampton or Bournemouth and use it as a handy place to stop off and break up the journey. At over 4000 years old, Stonehenge is the world’s most famous pre-historic monument, and one of the most impressive landmarks in England. I can’t believe I still haven’t been yet!

 

Brecon Beacons, Wales

 

 

Apart from heading to Cardiff last year to see the Spice Girls on tour (yep, they were amazing) and climbing Mount Snowdon the year before, I haven’t actually spent a lot of time in Wales in recent years. Growing up as kids we would visit the likes of Tenby, Cardigan Bay, Newquay, Caernarfon and Pembrokeshire on our annual summer holidays, but I have never explored the Brecon Beacons before. Climbing Pen Y Fan is definitely on my UK travel wishlist, and I’d love to spend a few days getting well and truly lost in the mountains during an epic Welsh staycation.

 

Dublin, Ireland

 

 

Ok so don’t judge me but I have NEVER been to Ireland before!! I know, I know, it’s crazy that I haven’t visited yet. I think the problem I have is that I travel so much and often overlook places closer to home in favour of destinations that are further away or more exciting. Dublin, however, is somewhere I definitely want to visit as soon as possible. I’d love to explore the cobbled streets and the ancient castle, as well as have a good old night out in Temple Bar – it’s got to be done, right? As soon as we are able to fly again, I am 100% heading over to the Irish capital. Although I won’t be indulging in any Guinness, sorry to disappoint 😉

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Despite only being to Scotland once before (last year, aged 26!) I still haven’t ticked Edinburgh off my UK travel wishlist. I I have NO IDEA why or how I have not yet visited this stunning city, but I am really hoping to go towards the end of this year if we are able to travel around the UK – fingers crossed! Everything about Edinburgh oozes charm, history and culture. From it’s striking castle to its cobbled streets, Edinburgh has something to offer all year round. As much as it’d be great to visit in summer, I’ve always thought December would be a great time to go as I am a sucker for a Christmas market and I know theirs are supposed to be amazing!

 

Windsor, England

 

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What's your favourite castle in Britain? 🏰 Edinburgh Castle? Conwy? Warwick? Leeds? Bodiam? For me, it's hard to beat the beauty of this incredible place – the near 1,000 year old Windsor Castle. Love this view of the “Long Walk” – swipe for a close up! Both shots by @_beans_on_toast_ Let's tuck into a large slab of delicious history: In 1066, when William the Conqueror claimed victory at the Battle of Hastings, the Forest of Windsor was already established – serving as a vital resource for the people who lived in the area. But it was William the Conqueror who was the first monarch to be inspired by the grasslands of Windsor Great Park as a place to build a residence In fact, the outer walls of Windsor Castle as they stand today are the same walls which were constructed by William the Conqueror in 1070AD – and some of the original oaks planted during his reign can still be seen standing tall within the Park now. Just amazing Ahh to be a King. Still, I'm the king of my garden shed and there is a slab of half nibbled fruit cake waiting for me there 🤓 This is @timholt wishing you a wonderful Thursday! Super photos by @_beans_on_toast_ 🇬🇧 To be featured, follow and tag us! ‘Ta! 🇬🇧

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Technically I’ve been to Windsor before as I went to Legoland on a school trip when I was 8 (what a day that was), but I was supposed to visit Windsor again properly back in April. Me and two of my besties were so excited for a fun filled girls day out and a little bit of sightseeing, but obviously Corona meant lockdown which meant our day out was cancelled. I am however still planning a little day trip to see the Queen’s Castle (and my best pal) as soon as we are able to travel safely again. Aside from seeing Queen Liz’s digs, I’d love to visit St George’s Chapel (where Harry & Meghan got married) and am sure we would enjoy a little river walk along the Thames too.

Newcastle, England

 

 

Up next on my UK travel wishlist is Newcastle. I have fancied a ‘night out on the Toon’ since I was 18 but I’ve never got round to visiting because a) it is very far away from me and b) it’s bloody cold up there! I think I’d like to do a stopover in Newcastle on the way up to Scotland and would enjoy a wander around the shopping district and a walk along the river Tyne. I definitely want to visit Durham and the famous Angel of the North statue too so would probably try to cram as much in as I could during my short stopover. Also, what are the chances of me meeting Ant and Dec?!…

 

Loch Ness, Scotland

 

 

I travelled to Loch Lomond and Glencoe last year whilst en route to Ben Nevis, but sadly I didn’t have time to visit the famous Loch Ness. A boat trip around the loch is something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember, especially as I would be on the lookout for Nessie the whole time! There are so many beautiful parts of Scotland I am yet to visit, and I would love to dedicate a week or two to the North Coast 500 road trip which would allow me to tick off plenty of famous sights along the way. If anyone has any tips for doing this, or knows of any companies who offer group tours, please let me know as I really want to do this road trip but definitely don’t want to drive it solo!

 

Gower Peninsula, Wales

 

 

Not far from Swansea, the Gower Peninsula was the first place in the UK to be awarded the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status back in 1956. Stretching across 19 miles of fantastic coastline, the Gower Peninsula offers 25 fantastic beaches to enjoy. If I were to book a Welsh staycation I would spend my days taking cliff walks, going on countryside hikes and sunbathing on the beach (if the weather was good). I definitely think the Gower would make a great base for exploring some of the best areas in Wales and would really love to tick it off my UK travel wishlist sometime soon!

 

Belfast, Ireland

 

 

As if I needed another reason to visit Ireland… Belfast is just perfect for a weekend city break staycation. The birthplace of the Titanic, and Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast is steeped in maritime history. Top of my Belfast bucketlist is the castle, city hall and botanic gardens, all of which are right up my street! If I had time I would love to do a week long road trip in Ireland so that I could visit Dublin and Belfast in one go, but I am also desperate to do the Giants Causeway too as the scenery looks totally breathtaking! Does anyone know of any good companies who do Ireland road trips? Again, I’d love to do this on a group tour instead of travelling on my own!

 

Cambridge, England

 

 

Another place I was supposed to visit at the end of March right before lockdown hit was beautiful Cambridge! My cousin Katie goes to uni there so me and my sisters were going to hop on the train to meet up with her for the day and enjoy a lovely lunch and a bit of sightseeing. Being from Oxford I think most people assume I will have visited Cambridge at some point in my life, but nope, I am still yet to tick it off my UK travel wishlist! I’d love to wander around the college buildings, see the Bridge of Sighs and go punting down the river – it sounds sooo similar to Oxford doesn’t it?!

 

These are all popular places to visit in Britain, some more well known than others, and I can’t believe I haven’t visited any of them yet! In terms of immediate travel plans, I’m hoping to go to Scotland to attempt to climb Ben Nevis again for The Pituitary Foundation in 2021, so I’m definitely looking at having a few extra days up there to explore some of the surrounding highlands. And as I’ve never been to Ireland before, I’d love to do a week long road trip and visit Dublin, Belfast and the Giants Causeway one after the other. How many of these places have you ticked off your British bucket list? And where are you planning your next UK staycation? Send over allllll your travel plans please!

Love Jess x

6 of my Top Travel Highlights from 6 Years of Travel Blogging

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all keeping safe and well during this global pandemic! We’re on day 479800605 of lockdown here in the UK and I’m writing this on the eve of my blogging anniversary. Tomorrow marks six years since Journeys with Jessica was launched, and I still pinch myself every year when the date of 27th May comes around! If you’ve been with me since the start, you’ll know how much I adore travel. I have been lucky enough to explore some amazing places in the world; from 5-6 week stints in America and Australia to inter-railing adventures across Europe and long weekends in the UK. As I’m approaching six years of travel blogging, and as I’m not going to be travelling anywhere for the foreseeable future due to Coronavirus (!!!), I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and share six of my top travel highlights for each year my blog has been running. Here goes!…

 

Bank Holiday in Barcelona, 2014

 

 

Back where it all began, the first holiday I ever blogged about, and the reason I started my blog in the first place! A long weekend away in Barcelona with two of my best friends was exactly what I needed back in May 2014, and I have such fond memories of this Spanish city. La Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, the beach – I loved it all! Granted, I spent most of the three days throwing up and recovering from an almighty hangover/alcohol poisoning/sickness bug so I didn’t get to see too much of the city, but I eventually returned five years later in May 2019 with my sister and got to do it all over again (minus the horrendous hangover because I am old now hehe). Pic from my most recent visit because I didn’t have Instagram back in 2014!

 

A Week in Cornwall, 2015

 

 

I spent a week in Cornwall with my family back in July 2015 and it was one of the best family holidays we have ever been on. My mum and dad have taken me and my sisters to St Ives almost every year since we were babies, and for that reason it remains one of my favourite places in the world. We hadn’t been to St Ives for a few years until we spent a week there in 2015, and it made me fall in love with it all over again. The weather was amazing, the beach was bliss and the scenery was stunning. The cobbled streets, long sandy beaches and gorgeous blue sea makes St Ives the perfect place for a UK summer beach break, and I am itching to get down there again when lockdown is over as my last visit was for New Years celebrations back in 2017!

 

An American Road Trip, 2016

 

 

The holiday that really kick-started my love for solo travel was this American road trip back in 2016. I quit my job and flew to Los Angeles on my own then travelled with Contiki from LA to NYC on an epic 28 day adventure across 23 states and had the absolute time of my life! I made life long friends on this group trip and it was the best way for me to dive into a totally new style of travel which would soon become one of my favourite ways to explore the world. Highlights included helicoptering over the Grand Canyon, parasailing over Daytona Beach, running around Walt Disney World, partying in Las Vegas and sightseeing in New York. I would love to go back to America one day to explore the other side of the country and I would also like to visit Canada too!

 

Must See Menorca, 2017

 

 

This was my first press trip with my blog and I remember having to pinch myself on the way to the airport because I could not believe that I was about to embark on a group trip with 50 other travel bloggers in beautiful Menorca! I was selected to attend by the team at Traverse Events and the Spanish Tourism Board when I attended Traverse 18 in London and was so excited but also super nervous! I needn’t have worried though, everyone was so friendly and welcoming and I made amazing friends on that trip who I still talk to now most days. We spent two full days conferencing and then the other five days seeing all that Menorca had to offer. As a child I had been to Menorca 3 times between the ages of 8 and 12 (it was the first place I ever went abroad!) but re-visiting it as an adult made it even more special and I would love to return again some day.

 

My Mediterranean Cruise, 2018

 

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Doing the Titanic pose all by myself cos this Rose doesn't need a Jack in her life 😎 I've been home for just 24 hours and I'm already missing being at sea 🌊 Words can't describe the amazing experience I had on my first ever cruise 🚢 I was so nervous before going as I suffer so much with travel sickness (ironic as I'm a travel blogger) but luckily I was absolutely fine and kept well the entire time! It's only now that I'm home I'm suffering with motion sickness despite being back on land! What is THAT all about?! 😩I think it means I need to book another cruise asap, I'm a total convert now and loved waking up in a new place each day, but my favourite thing was spending hours looking out at the blue waters, with nothing but the ocean staring back at me 🐬 Can I go be a mermaid again please? #cruiselife #titanicpose #takemeback #marellacruises

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I had always been curious about cruising and a bit weary of booking one, but when my family suggested a big get together for my mum’s 50th and my grandad’s 80th birthdays how could I refuse?! 12 of us decided to book together and we chose a Mediterranean voyage with TUI’s Marella Cruises which was the perfect choice for a first time cruiser like me. We sailed on a round trip from Dubrovnik to Dubrovnik, passing Kotor, Kefalonia, Messina and Valletta along the way, and we had the most amazing time. It totally opened my eyes to a new way of travel and I loved waking up in a new destination every single day. I would really love to do another cruise some day soon, but maybe in a few years time once Covid has well and truly passed – the thought of being stuck in the middle of the ocean on a ship gives me so much anxiety!

 

An Australian Adventure, 2019

 

 

Probably my most favourite trip of the last 6 years, and definitely the most memorable, is my 6 week Australian adventure that I embarked on last year. Starting in Melbourne and ending in Sydney, I explored Adelaide, Alice Springs, the Outback, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Brisbane and Bondi Beach in between and had the most amazing time! I did a mixture of group and solo travel, as well as reuniting with friends I had met on my Contiki around America back in 2016. Highlights included snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, sleeping under the stars in the Outback, driving the Great Ocean Road and admiring Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. This trip felt totally life changing for me and it came at the perfect time – it gave me my confidence back, it helped me fall in love with travel again and it opened my eyes to just how amazing our world can be! Australia, you have my heart. <3

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed going back in time with me and reliving some of my travel adventures from the past six years, it’s certainly made me realise how lucky I am to have visited some of these amazing places. With everything going on in the world right now though, I’m more than happy to take a bit of a travel break and can’t really see me wanting to go abroad until all of this is over, which makes me think 2021 will perhaps be the next time I venture overseas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m missing that feeling of packing for my next trip and getting excited to tick new destinations off my bucket list, but if this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate what is right in front of us.

I have spent the past ten weeks enjoying long countryside walks in my local area here in Oxfordshire, reading book after book in my garden, and just trying to take things back to basics by appreciating the little things in life. I am so grateful that my family and friends are all happy and healthy, and I can’t wait to visit them when we are allowed to travel round the country again. For that reason I want to focus my energy on planning UK adventures for the rest of 2020, if we are able to, and I’m eyeing up a trip to Cornwall in the autumn and perhaps an Edinburgh Christmas market getaway too, but who knows what will happen between now and then?! In my six years of travel blogging, this has definitely been the weirdest one yet, but Journeys with Jessica is still going strong, and that’s all thanks to YOU, my lovely readers. Here’s to the next six years!

Love Jess x