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Happy New Year! My 2018 Resolutions

 

Happy new year everyone!

Welcome to my first post of 2018! It’s my first post of many for January and, given that we’re celebrating the start of a new month and a new year, I’m kicking off with a traditional resolutions tick list for you! If you read my 2017 resolutions post last January (how has it been a year already since that was published?!) you’ll know that I’m a big fan of making new year’s resolutions, and I do actually stick to them, promise! Last year I vowed to:

  • visit 10 countries (TICK)
  • grow my blog as much as possible (TICK)
  • get a part time job (TICK)
  • start spending more time with family and friends (TICK)
  • spend less time on social media (FAIL) – ooooops
  • stop buying scratch-cards (SEMI-FAIL) – these two were harder than I thought!

I’m really proud that I managed to achieve most of these things within a year, and even more so that I managed to surpass my expectations by visiting 11 countries instead of 10, got a part time job to run alongside my freelance business and then landed my dream full time position and started my career in the travel industry, and grew my blog to the biggest it’s ever been, going on press trips and working with some incredible brands.

All in all, 2017 was a pretty amazing year for me, but as one year ends another one begins and this brings me on to my resolutions for 2018. I’m already thinking ahead to the next few months and am super excited to fill in the empty pages of my new chapter for this new year. Here are my 2018 resolutions…

 

Visit at least 5 countries

 

 

Last year I was lucky enough to visit a whopping 11 countries as I embarked on my greatest year of travel yet as a full time blogger and freelancer, but this year I have annual leave restrictions that I need to be careful of, so that will definitely impact on how many trips I can take! I’ve already got two trips planned and am in the process of planning a third which will take a few weeks to get organised. My first holiday will (hopefully) be an inter-railing trip starting in Paris and Luxembourg and ending in Brussels and Bruges – I’m really excited to go inter-railing for a third time and can’t wait to finalise everything for this week-long European adventure with my sister! I’m then going to be hopping over to Amsterdam and Rotterdam with some of my fellow blogger friends for my third annual Traverse conference and I’m soooo excited that it’s going to be held outside of the UK this year for the first time ever! My next holiday will be a cruise round the Mediterranean taking in the sights of Croatia, Malta, Sicily, Greece and Montenegro. I’ve never been on a cruise before and I’m nervous/excited in equal measures but can’t wait to see how the week unfolds, and I’m going with 13 of my crazy family members, so whatever happens I’m sure it’ll be a week to remember. I’m sure that more last minute trips will pop up over the course of the next 12 months, but I’ll definitely be making use of my weekends off as well!

 

Reach 10,000 followers across my social channels

 

It's the last day of 2017 and I'm reflecting on everything that has happened in my little life over the past 12 months… My highlights include press trips to #Spain #Switzerland and #Germany with my blog, a holiday to #Tenerife and my #European interrailing adventures. 🌍 I celebrated my 24th birthday, freelanced full time, took 17 flights to 11 countries, bought a new car, started my career in the travel industry with my new job, opened a help to buy account to start saving for a house, became a charity ambassador and shared my story with the national newspapers, went on countless day trips, weekends away and nights out with my friends and family and pushed myself to say YES to things and make the most of every minute. 🌟 Sadly I've ended on a low note after losing my beautiful Cassie, but she is in a better place and she'll remain in my heart forever 💖 I'm so grateful that I've got amazing friends and family and am surrounded by love each and every day. 2017 has taught me a lot and has brought me so much, but I'm so excited to see how 2018 will top it and can't wait to see what the future brings. Happy new year everyone, here's to making every second count! 🎉 #2017bestnine #HappyNewYear #2017

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This is going to be a HUGE milestone and I really hope that it’s something I can achieve within the next year. Currently, I have 4200 Twitter followers, 1800 on Instagram, 600 on Linked In and 540 on Facebook, so I’ve got a long way to go before I hit my target of 10,000! I do think it’s going to take a lot of effort and hard work to get it done, but I love a challenge and am determined to make this happen, plus my stats on my media kit are going to look pretty damn good if I finally reach the big 10k!

 

Spend less time on social media

 

 

Ok, ok, so I know this is massively contradictory to my last resolution, but I want to try and spend less time on social media on a personal level, although I want to grow the followers for my blog as much as possible. I have a constant obsession with logging on to my apps, refreshing the news feeds and scrolling aimlessly for hours, consuming irrelevant content about things which mean absolutely nothing to me. It’s something we are all guilty of, but the constant scrolling is what really gets me down and I know I really need to stop. I’ve made a good start by deleting my apps and muting all of my notifications, so now I only get bothered when someone texts or calls me! My accounts are still active but I’m going to try and post less and, in turn, scroll less too. I also want to read more books and so, whenever I get the urge to scroll during the ad break of my fave TV show, or during a quiet 5 minutes on my lunch break, I’m going to read chapters of my books instead and keep my mind occupied on something more productive.

 

Work on new projects for The Pituitary Foundation

 

 

As part of my role as an ambassador for UK charity The Pituitary Foundation, I’m trying to raise as much money and awareness as I possibly can for an organisation which has been hugely important to me since my own prolactinoma diagnosis back in 2011. I became an ambassador last summer and have already taken part in a fun run, national newspaper campaign and a Go Orange event in order to raise awareness of the charity. This year I’d like to step it up a notch and get more involved, take part in more events and raise even more money than I ever have done. My plans include another fun run and Go Orange day, as well as a summer fete and a hike up Mount Snowdon as I aim to challenge myself as much as I can. More details will be emerging when I have them, but for now please wish me luck!

 

Start saving at least £500 a month

 

 

I’ve only been able to do this one since I went back to full time work at the end of last year, but in October I opened a Help To Buy bank account as I aim to start saving for my first house. It’s going to take me a good few years to get a deposit behind me, especially as property prices in my local area are ASTRONOMICAL, but if I can try to save at least £500 every single month then I’ll stand myself in good stead going forwards. Since landing my dream job I’m starting to feel really settled and really positive about creating a stable future for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop travelling and I’m certainly not ready to get married and have kids, but I just want to give myself the best future possible and saving lots of money will definitely help me to achieve that.

 

Incorporate exercise into my weekly routine

 

 

Exercise is something I have ALWAYS struggled with, I hated P.E. as a child and my idea of increasing my heartrate was standing at the back of the rounders pitch having a good gossip with my school friends and doing a few star jumps! As I’ve got older my attitude has changed a little, but I still feel faint at the idea of even going in to a gym, let alone doing a full blown workout. I do however really enjoy the gym once I get some blood pumping, but it’s the idea of going that makes me feel really demotivated, and maybe it’s because I’m a little intimidated by all the amazing girls and guys who go and look like their professionals. I’m going to start doing a small workout at home once a week though to improve my fitness, and my core strength. It’s not about losing weight or toning up, I think I just want to feel good about myself again and I know how much exercise can do for your mental and physical health. Here’s hoping I can do at least one workout a week to help with this – plus daily walks too!

 

Grow my blog as much as possible whilst working full time

 

 

I’m hoping to smash this one as I’ve already had a positive start to the year, but the first few months of being back to full time work meant that my blog really took a back seat at the end of last year. I was just so exhausted doing 40 hour weeks, plus 2 hours of driving a day, and didn’t want to do anything other than watch telly and get into bed during my week night evenings, and my weekends were for catching up with friends and making exciting plans. I also lost my beautiful dog Cassie at the end of last year and this had a massive impact on my motivation to do anything productive. If I’m honest, I barely slept or ate, let alone found the time to blog, and it did affect me. I was totally consumed by grief and loss, which is something I had never experienced before. But with the start of a new year comes new positivity and I’m really excited to throw myself back in to my blog and make proper time to publish regular posts, grow my followers and keep up my social media statuses. I’ll probably schedule in one evening a week and one day of the weekend to dedicate time to my blog and I’m hoping to stick to it over the coming weeks.

 

I like to think that these resolutions are all achievable and are all things that are going to enhance my little life over the next 12 months, and I’m feeling more motivated than ever to make this another incredible year. In addition to these resolutions, I’m also hoping to make more time for myself and put myself first. Little things like having a bath, popping on a face mask or reading a book will all help to give myself some well deserved ME time and I intend to do this a lot in 2018. Do you make New Years resolutions? Do you ever stick to them? Here’s hoping I achieve mine – happy new year everyone, wishing you all a successful, healthy and happy 2018!

Love Jess X

 

Happy new year y'all 🍾🍾 #NYE2017

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48 Hours in Salzburg: Discover The Magic Behind The Sound of Music

 

 

If you’ve been following my blog or social media channels lately you’ll know that I have recently returned from my epic inter-railing adventure around Europe with my lovely friend Toni and we had the most amazing ten days! After back to back whistle stop tours of Warsaw and Prague, next up on our trip was the stunning Austrian city of Salzburg. Famed for its Sound of Music film locations, its authentic puppet museum and its beautiful castle on the hill, Salzburg stole my heart as soon as I stepped off the train and I fell totally in love with everything about it.  I was lucky enough to arrange a meeting with the lovely Stephanie from Visit Salzburg who really helped us to plan our break to make the best possible use of our time, as well as providing us with our trusty Salzburg cards, but I  could have easily spent another day wandering around the Mirabell Gardens or admiring the view from the castle courtyard. Being the avid travel blogger that I am, I planned my trip well and did everything I wanted to do and more, so here are my tips on making the most of your short time in this incredible city…

 

Take a Sound of Music tour

 

 

An absolute must see whilst in Salzburg, The Sound of Music by Panorama Tours  offers a fun filled half day for all the family. With either a morning or an afternoon slot, and pick up from the central bus station, the tour starts and ends in the same location and ferries you around all day. Stopping at iconic film locations in and around Salzburg, the route begins at the beautiful Mirabell Gardens, where the famous Do-Re-Mi was filmed. You’ll then be driven to the Leopoldskron Palace, the location for the Von Trapp house and the lake and gardens where the boating scene took place. Next up is the Hellbrunn Palace grounds with its gazebo where the musical number ‘Sixteen going on Seventeen’ was filmed.  Afterwards you’ll stop by Nonnberg Abbey, the convent used in the film, and the Salzburg Lake District area where many of the picnic and outdoor scenes were filmed. Your sixth and final stop will be the beautiful town of Mondsee, where you’ll enjoy some free time to explore the cafe’s and shops at your leisure, before heading inside the stunning St Michael’s Church where Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married. The four hour tour was truly amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting all the locations and seeing all the sights, as well as having a singalong on the tour bus in between stops! If you’re a Sound of Music fan this is the only tour you’ll want to take in Salzburg.

 

 

Wander around the Castle Courtyard

 

 

Gazing up at the castle on the hill

 

If you’re anything like me, castles will be one of your favourite things to see in any city and the Hohensalzburg Castle certainly didn’t disappoint. Set on top of the Festungsberg, a small hill at the heart of the city, the castle is complete with an incredible stone fortress and gives a real medieval feel when walking around the site. Erected by the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg, who were already powerful political figures, construction first began in 1077 with expansions, including the towers and ring walls, later added in the 1460s. Situated at an altitude of over 500m, the castle offers incredible panoramic views over the old town and nearby hills below and is the focal landmark of the entire city. Take the funicular up to the top of the fortress and then wander round the interior and exterior of the castle at your leisure – don’t forget to check out the amazing Marionette museum to see the history behind this puppet art and you might even be treated to a miniature opera too!  The funicular ride and castle entrance are both free with your Salzburg card.

 

Discover DomQuartier’s architecture

 

The pretty cathedral and carousel on site for the Rupertikirtag Festival

 

This was my favourite part of the whole of Salzburg as it looked oh so beautiful both during the day time and lit up at night too. We were lucky to be staying whilst the historic Rupertikirtag Festival was on and were treated to fairground rides, marching bands, traditional food and a real authentic Austrian party. Despite the Festival giving plenty of reasons to keep us occupied, the DomQuartier area would keep you entertained for hours even if the Festival wasn’t taking place. The cathedral-museum complex, designed in traditional Baroque style, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to five museums and the stunning cathedral which is the focal point of the entire area. Choose to explore the state rooms of the Alte Residenz, the terrace above the cathedral arches or St Peter’s Abbey with its spiritual treasures exhibition of the oldest abbey in the German-speaking world. The stunning cathedral is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen; everything from its stained glass windows and its intricate altar to its enormous ceilings and its silent underground chamber complete with chapel and light room, left me with goosebumps and was a real highlight of my trip to the city. Don’t miss out!

 

Visit Mozart’s Birthplace

 

Photo courtesy of Visit Salzburg Tourism Board

 

Built in the 12th century and located in the centre of the historic old town, Number 9 Getreidegasse was the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1756, the seventh child of Leopold Mozart who was a musician of the Salzburg Royal Chamber. As we all know, the young Mozart became one of the most famous musicians the world has ever seen, and was perhaps best known for his iconic composition The Magic Flute. In 1880 his birthplace was turned into a museum and it has been welcoming guests ever since. Visitors can find out about the early life of the classical composer where they can see his first musical instruments being exhibited and they can also take a tour through some of the many residency rooms inside the building. Owned by the Mozart Foundation, entrance to the museum is free with your Salzburg card.

 

Where to Eat/Drink

 

Inside the cafe of the decadent Hotel Sacher

 

There are plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from in Salzburg, and they can be found in and around the DomQuartier area. We actually failed at being good travellers as we didn’t have a proper sit down meal at all during our time there – bad Jess!! On our first night it was pouring it down with rain so we sat in the common room in our hostel and watched The Sound of Music whilst eating takeaway pizza and chips! Our second night was spent having a traditional Austrian dish consisting of potatoes and sausage which we quickly chomped down whilst attending the Rupertikirtag Festival in the cathedral courtyard – think Oktoberfest and you’ve got it! I’d highly recommend taking the time to check out some of the other restaurants in the city centre though as they looked fantastic, and one thing you absolutely MUST do is have a slice of Sacher Torte (heavenly dark chocolate cake/cheesecake) at the world famous Hotel Sacher, the place that Julie Andrews stayed in whilst she filmed the Sound of Music!

 

Where to Stay

 

Photo courtesy of Hostelworld

 

As this was an budget inter-railing trip we spent both nights in Salzburg at the YoHo International Youth Hostel, located halfway between the train station and the historic city centre, both of which were a ten minute walk away. The hostel was kitted out for all ages and provided clean and tidy accommodation in an unbeatable location. Although pretty basic, our bunk bed room was a private room and did the job but we had shared toilets and showers which wasn’t ideal –  you could pay more to have a private en-suite room though if you’re not keen on sharing bathrooms. The bar and breakfast area was a great way of socialising and meeting fellow travellers and they play The Sound of Music film in the downstairs common room EVERY SINGLE NIGHT so I would suggest embracing this whilst you’re in Salzburg and making the most of the cheap pizza and giant screen! I’d highly recommend this hostel to those looking for a cheap place to stay for a couple of nights as hotels in Austria are notoriously expensive – thanks to the team for making our stay a great one.

Although not as big as the other two cities we had visited prior to our stopover in Austria, what Salzburg lacked in size it certainly made up for in charm. With its cobbled streets and wonderful cathedral at its small historic centre, there’s a lot to see in Salzburg and 48 hours gives just about enough time to do it all, especially if, like me, you have a snazzy Salzburg card. Thanks again to the lovely Stephanie at the Salzburg Tourism Board for helping to make our time in the city so special, and for our wonderful Salzburg cards, I can’t wait to return one day!

Love Jess X

NB. Our Salzburg cards and Sound of Music tour were complimentary for the duration of our visit and for the purpose of this post, but all thoughts and comments are of course my own.

 

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Tex Mex, Creole or All-American? Comparing the flavour of three Southern cities…

 

Over 12 months ago, when I embarked on my trip of a lifetime across the US of A, I was set to visit 23 states in 28 days; a mean feat for someone who had never left Europe before! Aptly named The Grand Southern Adventure, I knew most of my escapade would be spent discovering some of the best cities that the south had to offer, and knew that it’d be an adrenalin fuelled few weeks, and a real foodie haven too. Three of the cities on the trip really stole my heart, and not just because of their lively atmospheres and their colourful history. Spending two nights each in Orlando, Dallas and New Orleans gave me a chance to delve a little deeper into their charm, although I’m pretty sure I barely scratched the surface of these cities during my short time there. I enjoyed my few days in those places so much that, when the wonderful team at Trip.com asked me to take a look at the foodie history behind each city, I jumped at the chance to do a little more digging… Here’s how the three of them compare…

 

Dallas, Texas

 

The sun shining down on Dallas

 

The Texan powerhouse and one of America’s most famous cities, Dallas should be at the top of everyone’s bucket lists, and for good reason. Home to an enormous aquarium, along with a zoo, museums and memorials, Dallas is one of the liveliest cities in the deep South. Sadly, it’s also perhaps best known for being the site of President John F Kennedy’s assassination and has a memorial and museum dedicated to his untimely death. Whilst you’ll find large chunks of America’s history down in Dallas, you’ll also find it’s a complete foodie haven and a fantastic place for indulging in that iconic Tex-Mex cuisine.

A mouth-watering mix of Anglo and Mexican-Indian infusions, invented by Mexican immigrants in the late 1800s, Tex-Mex fast became one of the most popular dishes in the state of Texas, and across the rest of America and the world too. Although the main ingredients of the cuisine remain the same; think nachos, enchiladas, fajitas, burritos, chilli and tacos, the dishes have largely evolved over the years. It wouldn’t be right to devour some good ole Tex-Mex food in Dallas without a frozen margarita in hand though – it’s where it was first created back in 1974, and is still a hit with locals and tourists alike today. If you’re looking for the perfect hotel from which to base yourself on your next visit to this Texan city check out Trip.com’s best hotel deals in Dallas.

 

New Orleans, Louisiana

 

The fairy-tale that is Jackson Square

 

Positioned right on the Mississippi River, near the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans is a Louisiana city packing a big punch. Nicknamed the “Big Easy,” New Orleans is famous for its crazy nightlife, fantastic live-music jazz scene and its eclectic cuisine. At the heart of the city you’ll find it’s French Quarter, the oldest part of the city and perhaps its most interesting. Jackson Square is the focal point of the district, complete with a pretty Church, manicured courtyard gardens and horse drawn carriages, making it look like something out of a fairy-tale. The biggest event on the calendar is of course the Mardi Gras parade, a winter carnival with show-stopping costumes, live music and fun filled street parties. New Orleans, and indeed the rest of Louisiana, is however best known for its delicious Creole cuisine; a spicy style of cooking which brings together a mixture of flavours from a whole host of different cultures including Spanish, Indian, Caribbean, West African and Latin American.

Invented in NOLA back in the 18th century, classic Creole dishes include fish and meat soups, shrimps in sauce, rice in gravy, baked chicken, red beans and smothered pork chops. The most popular dishes are gumbo (shrimp, chicken and sausage stew served with rice) and jambalaya (meat and vegetables mixed with rice). For dessert, Creole cuisine offers something for everyone, but NOLA’s most iconic sweet treat is the classic beignet – deep fried choux pastry served with powdered sugar on top and a café au lait (coffee with milk). Visit the world famous Café du Monde down in the French Quarter for the ultimate beignet experience. The café is open 24 hours all day every day and only has four items on the menu: dark-roasted coffee, white and chocolate milk, hot chocolate, freshly squeezed orange juice and, of course, the classic beignets. Whatever your foodie preferences, NOLA caters for all tastes and you’ll be sure to want to take a taste of Creole home with you when you leave the city! If you’re in need of a place to rest your head for a few hours after spending all night ‘dancing in the streets’ check out Trip.com’s best hotel deals in New Orleans.

 

Orlando, Florida

 

The happiest place on earth…

 

Nestled between the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, the sunshine state of Florida is one of the most visited areas in the whole of the USA. With hundreds of miles of coastline and a population of over 20 million, Florida is a tropical paradise with gorgeous turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. In particular, Orlando is famed for its designer shopping malls, vibrant seaside resorts and of course it’s enormous theme parks. Nicknamed the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’, Orlando is home to the Universal resorts, Sea World, Discovery Cove, Legoland, Gatorland, Epcot and the most famous resort on earth, Walt Disney World. Cuisine is Florida is just as famous, with their iconic oranges – you’ll find them everywhere you go – as well as their Cuban inspired mojito’s and of course their very own key lime pie.

Cuisine found in Orlando is typical of All-American dishes and, whilst it mainly consists of fried chicken, French fries and just about any kind of fried food you can find, there are dozens of signature dishes too. Frozen yogurt, or Fro-Yo as Floridians affectionately call it, is super popular over in Orlando, and is much needed during the exhausting heat and tropical temperatures that remain in place all year round. Alligator tail is also a popular dish in the city, deep fried and served with hot sauce and a heap of ranch dressing on the side. Perhaps the most famous piece of Floridian cuisine though is the mouth-watering key lime pie. Invented by ship salvager William Curry in the sunshine state back in the 1800s, Curry became Key West’s first millionaire and his legendary dish is still a hit today. Need somewhere to stay during your holiday with Mickey and Co? Take a look at Trip.com’s top hotel deals in Orlando.

 

NB. This post is brought to you as part of Trip.com’s Underdog Cities campaign but all words and photos are of course my own.

 

So food is pretty BIG in Dallas

September Newsletter

Happy 1st October!

One of my favourite months of the year is now upon us, and I can’t quite believe that we have just three months left of 2017! How the HELL did that happen?! I’ve had a whirlwind of a summer and been fortunate enough to travel to some amazing places, but now I’m looking forward to winding down a little bit, swapping sunny days for cosy nights in and embracing all things autumnal before our long cold winter inevitably hits. September has been another crazy month for me, I went on my interrailing adventure visiting 4 countries and 4 cities, and have also bought myself a brand new car and started a brand new job! Here’s what’s been happening over the past 30 days…

 

I became a god mother for the first time

 

 

I’m sooo proud to announce that I am now (fairy) godmother to beautiful little Halle, daughter of one of my best friends! The christening took place a few weeks ago now but it was so lovely and Halle looked so adorable. I was so honoured to be asked to be her godmother, it’s something I’ve never had the privilege of doing before and I cried as soon as I was asked! I promise to love you and look after you forever little Halle bean <3 xx

 

I went interrailing around Europe for ten days

 

 

Last weekend I got back from one of my biggest trips of 2017; I interrailed around Europe for 10 days with another of my best friends and we had SUCH an amazing trip! We flew to Warsaw to start off our adventure, enjoying walking tours, traditional Polish food and learning about its war history along the way, before heading over to Prague for our second stop. It was my second visit to the city and I fell in love with it even more than I did the first time. We partied until the early hours, wandered around the biggest castle complex in Europe, and spent time gazing in awe at the beautiful Old Town Square.

 

 

Our third stop was the stunning city of Salzburg, home to strudel, sacher-torte and of course, the Sound of Music film set. We took the funicular up to the top of the castle complex where we were treated to incredible panoramic views over the entire city below, and then sang our hearts out on the wonderful Sound of Music Official Tour. The fourth and final stop of our interrailing adventure was the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, somewhere that had been on my bucket list for such a long time. Again, we took a funicular up to the top of the castle to watch the sun set, then spent time wandering around the cobbled streets and meandering along the river. Our last full day was spent at the nearby Lake Bled, which seems to be top of everyone’s go-to lists at the moment! We had the most amazing trip and I wish we could go back and do it allll over again!

 

I treated myself to a new car

 

 

Last month my lovely little corsa gave up the ghost after 5 short years of us being together and I was totally gutted!! Sadly a bust head gasket meant that we had to part ways, so to cheer myself up I treated myself to a brand new, 67 plate Vauxhall Adam and it has definitely put the smile back on my face! After a month of having no car I’m fully embracing being back behind the wheel and am loving whizzing around in my new purchase.

 

I started a brand new full-time job

 

 

Most people think getting a new car is a big enough event for one month, but not me, I only went and got myself a brand new job too! After 18 months of travel, 12 months of freelancing and 9 months of part time work, I felt the time was right for me to have a new challenge and ease myself into a career in the travel industry. As much as I’ve loved blogging and travelling almost full time over the past year and a half, I realised that I needed to catch my breath, slow down and build a career in the industry I am hugely passionate in. I’m by no means settling down, and I’ll still be making the most of my weekends and annual leave by traveling as much as possible, but for now I’m really excited to have a new challenge and am looking forward to becoming a Villa’s Coordinator at a luxury travel firm in Cheltenham… Wish me luck!

So that’s how my September went… How did yours go? I’m hoping to have a quiet October where I can save some money, spend some time with my friends and family and just enjoy being at home for the next few weeks. Weirdly, I don’t actually have any new trips coming up which is kind of a strange concept for me, but I just want to settle in to my new life and see how things go. You know me though, I’m pretty sure I’ll book some kind of spontaneous getaway before 2017 comes to an end 😉

Love Jess x

 

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Why it’s ok not to be ok

 

I’ve had a tough week, a really tough week, and some things have happened in my personal life which have made me quite upset. Things happen every now and then which upset me, and what do I do when I’m upset? I write. I write and write until I’ve got everything off my chest, and until I start to feel better.

Some of you may think it’s odd to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard in my case, but writing is therapeutic for me and does wonders for helping me feel better about myself. This week I’ve realised that I haven’t felt truly happy for a long time, but I’ve realised that it’s ok not be be ok. Here’s something I wrote a few weeks back that might explain how I’ve been feeling lately…

Why it’s ok not to be ok

I’m writing this from my bed. I’m in bed on a Saturday afternoon. It’s almost 4pm, and I’ve achieved nothing today. I woke up in a bad mood; if I’m honest I went to sleep in a bad mood too, but I have no idea why. I went to do the food shop, had an argument with my mum, felt even worse than I did before, came home and got into bed. Got out my phone and started scrolling through social media, looking at everyone’s seemingly perfect lives. Wondering how that girl I went to school with was lucky enough to find a guy that dotes on her, gives her the world. Wondering how she was lucky enough to have a beautiful little boy. Wondering what I did wrong because I don’t have those things. Or wondering how couples that have been together seven years are still together and still just as loved up now than they were back then.

 

          Being alone, it’s what I’m good at

 

Everyone around me is settling down; they’re all in long term relationships, or they’re married. They’re having kids or buying houses. They’ve got their own dogs or cats or they’ve got jobs which they’ve been in for years and have built successful careers. Then I look at what I’ve got, and what I’ve not got, and I feel this overwhelming sense of not belonging. I don’t fit in with that life; I’m not married or going to be married any time soon. I don’t have a baby, as much as that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I don’t have a successful career or dress smart to go to work or wear heels whilst making the commute. I don’t have all of those things, but I’m starting to realise that that’s ok. It’s ok not to have your life figured out, it’s ok that I don’t have all those things my friends have. What I do have is opportunities, opportunities for things to change, and memories, lots of wonderful memories, lots which I’ve created all by myself, without the need for anyone else.

 

                    Being oh so reflective

 

I’ve travelled to 19 countries, many of them on my own. I’ve quit a secure, well paid job for a life of uncertainty and excitement, all because those are the things I thrive off. Future me is worried about things financially, wondering how I’m going to buy a house when the average property price in my local area is £300,000 and I’ve barely scraped together £5000 in savings. Future me is worried I’ll get to the age of 30 without finding love, and without finding love how can I have all those things I’ve dreamed about? Like becoming a mum, or buying my own place. Having a garden and playing with the dog. Future me is worried about all of those things, and sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball to peer into my life in 5 years time and see what it’s like, how things are going, and if I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve.

But then present me tells me to stop it. Tells me to stop thinking so far ahead, and to stop worrying that I’m not doing all the things my friends are doing. While they’re sat at home during the weekend I’m off gallivanting across the globe. I’m on one of my many European city breaks having the time of my life. Or if I’m home for a while and want to go on a spontaneous night out, I can do that too. I don’t have to arrange a babysitter or worry about money, I’m doing whatever I want and can enjoy myself as much as possible. Present me tells me it’s all going to be okay. She tells me to stop crying when I’m feeling down – I know I can’t help it sometimes, I do suffer with mild bouts of depression and when those days come, they’re so hard to get over. It’s like I can’t push past the darkness that consumes me, despite knowing that people all over the world are suffering with illnesses or dealing with tragedies, and then I try to get my life into perspective and realise that it’s not really that bad. Despite sometimes being far from happy, I’ve realised that it is ok not to be ok.

 

      Looking at what I have done, not what I        haven’t done, gives me my greatest sense of achievement

 

Before I started writing this post I was in bed at 4 o clock on a Saturday afternoon, as you know, and I’d just fallen asleep. I’m not sure why I fell asleep, although I have been exhausted lately. I’m working 2 jobs, 3 if you count my blog as a job (which it totally is). I’m doing long days, random shifts, and I go at a million miles an hour. Before I fell asleep I was bawling my eyes out, crying like a baby, sobbing into my mums arms while she lay on the bed next to me stroking my hair. And you know what the stupid thing is? I don’t even know WHY I WAS CRYING. I have nothing to be sad about, I couldn’t even give my mum an answer as to why I was upset. But she knows me, she knows I have my down days and she knows how to help me get through them. I love you mum, I don’t know what I would do without you, and I’m sorry I take things out on you.

Maybe I was upset because I’m wondering what the hell I should do with my life. I quit my job to travel and become a full time blogger. I set up my freelance business because I wanted to work from home, and because I wanted the flexibility to go on trips, travel more without being restricted to annual leave, and to take on new experiences that a 9-5 job wouldn’t allow me to have. It’s been just over a year since I made that choice, and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I’ve had an amazing year, travelling to 10 new countries, exploring new cities and new destinations, something I would never have done if I had been at my old job. I’ve taken a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, hopped on a gondola ride in Venice, got to the top of one of the highest mountains in the Swiss Alps, and spent 4th July partying in NYC. I’ve done all of these bucket list items, and it’s given me some incredible memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Sometimes I don’t realise how lucky I’ve been

 

I’ve done some amazing things, and visited some amazing places

 

Six months ago I got a part time job at a retail store to give me more money, and to meet new people, as well as to stop the loneliness that I was enduring after going freelance. That job has helped me so much, both financially and mentally, but I’ve got to a point where I’m now wondering what on earth I’m doing there. Why am I working night shifts, early shifts, doing overtime, moving boxes, piling bags onto shelves that I can’t reach, and for what? A measly £7 an hour. It’s minimum wage. I’m surely worth more than that? I thought by the age of 24 I’d have my whole life figured out…

But then I remember that it’s not going to be forever, that I’ll figure out what it is that I want to do. Whether that’s to get a new full time job, or to really make a go of turning my blog into an income. I don’t know what the future will hold. Looking back, I’ve come such a long way over the past year, even the past 2 years. Things have changed so much for me, and it’s a good thing, it really is. Most of the time I’m happy, and I really am happy, but sometimes I’m genuinely not ok. But that’s fine, I accept and understand that now. Today I am not ok, but tomorrow I will be, and suddenly I stop and realise that, every now and again. I truly believe that everything in our lives happens for a reason, and that’s how I know that, sometimes, it’s ok not to be ok.

Love Jess X

 

Having the summer of my life road tripping across the States