Jessica Claire Keynes - Who am I? Well to be completely honest I’m not too sure, I’ve only known me for 26 years and I’m still trying to work me out. To my husband, I’m his fiery but sentimental wife. To my family I’m the independent, whimsical, explorer who never has two feet on the ground. To my colleagues I’m an ambitious joker who eats all the doughnuts… and I’m still working on the rest of the world.
The best advice I’ve ever received was from my Dad, who said that the best I could ever do was try. That way I could never be disappointed in myself and if I was disappointed in myself, then I wasn’t done trying.
I would say to the 16 year-old me… “Stop skipping college to be cool, you won’t remember half these kids names in ten years time. You’ll just remember not getting into your first choice of university because of it.”
The thing I love most about myself is that I honestly, truly believe that there is always a way. It might not be easily thought of or obvious at first but if I give myself enough time I will always think of a way to make myself happy.
The thing that motivates me the most, is that life is so short and precious. I don’t particularly believe in reincarnation or an afterlife as such. I believe that this is our moment to shine so I intend to make the most of it. Some days I have what I call “down days” where it’s hard to appreciate the day ahead, it can all seem so trivial. I always allow myself my down days so I don’t burn out like a star but I also tell myself that once this day is done, tomorrow I tell myself ‘enough is enough, get up, get dressed and find something in today to live for.'
My greatest achievement is still being married. I know to some people that might seem like such a demeaning thing to say but to me, it really is an achievement. I don’t believe in excessively changing myself for others but I do believe in bettering myself for others. I used to be (and part of me still is) a very temperamental, selfish, and undermining individual. I didn’t used to like who I was or how I behaved in committed relationships. Maybe I forced people away who I felt vulnerable with, who knows. The point is, I admitted that how I was behaving was hurting people I loved so I try hard every day to be kinder, more open and honest and now I’m in a happy, healthy relationship.
If I wasn’t blogging, I’d probably be doing something else creative like art or music. I can find it a challenge to express myself so writing channels my emotions and blogging provides a positive outlet for me to express myself. Even if I just take a photo that makes me think... Wow, I’ve managed to capture how happy I feel in this moment. Then I feel happy with my work. Luckily for everyone, I can blog because I don’t think many people would appreciate my singing!
The one thing that was on my bucket list was to meet Michael Jackson, sadly that one won’t come true but the thing about bucket lists, or at least mine is they constantly change. I try not to have too many things on there so I can concentrate on actually completing them. At the moment it’s to find somewhere in the world I want to buy a house. This for me is a really big deal because it means setting down roots, I’ve spent the past eight years moving around the country and then the world so finding somewhere to commit to is a really big step for me.
My biggest passions are of course writing, even if I’m not actually putting pen to paper, or finger to key. I’m thinking of things to write about, moments that could have happened, stories about people I’ve never met. My imagination is always on the go. The other thing I love is people, sometimes I hate people but a lot of the time I just want to be around them, I want to hear about their lives and their dreams. I’d love to have a job where I could help those in need, no matter how small their needs were.
Before any trip, I have to buy a Lonely Planet guide book for wherever I’m going. I really love to research the culture and history of a place and make sure that I’m hitting all the hotspots because a holiday is never enough time. I also need to Pinterest all my outfits, so that I’m not taking too many clothes and that I’m also not being caught out without anything. Finally, I always try to read as many blogs as I can on the area because I like to read honest opinions and hear about unique places people have just stumbled upon.
Currently me and my husband are on the final leg of our 1/2 world tour, travelling from Western Europe, up through Eastern Europe, in to Russia, Mongolia, China and South East Asia. Next stop is Laos, I’m really looking forward to some great food and having a relaxed few weeks to unwind from the last few months.
My only travel hack would be to take your time picking accommodation to find the best deal. We’ve signed up to loyalty programs for booking.com, Agoda and on Avios. If there is a hotel that we really want to stay at but it’s a little out of our budget range, call up the place and try and negotiate a price. It’s more effective in shoulder seasons but as the saying goes ‘there is no harm in asking”. Also don’t forget to review places, a lot of places including hotels will want some sort of review and you can maybe swindle a free beer for an instant review on tripadvisor. We’ve been upgraded more times than not because we make sure to review on booking.com and Agoda soon after we’ve left.
My travel style is "most for my money”, I don’t tend to have a set budget for anywhere but if I find it good value for money then I will do it. If I can find a good clean hotel within budget, great but if I can find an amazing hotel with a pool, breakfast and on the beach for an extra few pounds per night well then I’d rather that! Just like if I’m going to have more than three glasses of wine, buy the bottle. It’s better value for money!
The biggest cultural shock has been China. Not only was the food a lot different than what I was expecting but the culture was so different too. When people say there is great food at every corner, they’re lying. Good food in China needs to be sought out but what I found was that when it was good, it was the best I’ve ever had but then again I’ve had a few Oreo dinners during my time there. In terms of people they are conflicting, one second they’re shoving you and pushing you, spitting on the floor and grumbling but then the next second they’re guiding you to your correct bus because you’re on the wrong one. They’re having in depth conversations with you through Google Translate and are desperate to take photos with you. I must be in about two dozen family photos. China was one of the worst and the best places I’ve ever been. I’d go back tomorrow.
I am not one for travelling light but when things get a little excessive, I have a trick to pick what I really need. It’s a little controversial. Firstly I get my husband to set a timer of three minutes. I memorise my suggested packing list and then I pretend the room is on fire. My husband yells at me while I’m choosing what to pack. Whatever I have chosen, gets packed, the rest is left behind.
More About Jessica
Jessica Keynes is a 26-year-old travel blogger, whose too old for backpacking and too poor for luxury travel.
She and her husband are making their way from their former home in London to their potential new home in Melbourne via Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China and Southeast Asia.