I'm really happy to have Johnny Ward as our most recent interviewee. Johnny has made his way through 107 countries and shares his stories at onestep4ward.com.
How, why and when did you get started to blog your thoughts on travel?
I started it in 2009 when I was in Australia on a working holiday visa. It's the only time in my life I had a 'real' full time job and I was pulling my hair out so I used that time to create my blog! I hired a Filipino guy to knock together a basic blog for me. I had been reading travel blogs for a while and it seemed that very few people 'really' traveling, so I thought there was a space for me.
What is your blog all about?
It chats a bit about stories from the 100+ countries I've visited, but more recently I've focused more on inspiration, motivation and lifestyle design. Trying to inspire people to follow their passions, and forgetting the status quo.
Are you a full-time blogger? If so, do you live a rich lifestyle? 🙂
Yeah I guess I am. I started a media company, step4wardmedia.com, off the back of the revenue I was generating. I recently bought an apartment in Thailand, invested in a stock portfolio and I'm buying an investment property in London at the mo so it's paid off for me, that being said – the industry isn't going to be around forever so I'm trying to smart with my money!
What has been your most popular post so far?
Perhaps the post I wrote about 20 things to learn in your 20s. I wrote it last month as I turned 30 so it was straight from the heart.
What's your favorite country/place you have traveled to and why?
To travel – I'd say Ethiopia, Iceland and China. They all have super beautiful things to see, and Ethiopia and China are cheap as chips too.
Where would you want to live if you'd have to settle on one place?
I have my 'home' in Bangkok, Thailand. When I'm not traveling I'm based there.
If I would be looking for beaches, mountains, city life, nightlife – where would you send me?
You mean all in one place?! Or individually?! Beaches – Mozambique, Indonesia, Philippines. Mountains – Bhutan and Nepal. City life – Budapest, Bucharest, Bangkok (all awesome cities with awesome prices), Nightlife – everywhere!
How many countries have you been to?
107 and counting. I'm planning to visit them all (193 according to the UN) before I'm 35. 5 years to go!
What places/countries are the most overrated?
For real traveling South East Asia is insanely over rated. It's a middle class booze cruise. I live in Thailand, and love taking holidays in SE Asia, but traveling here? I'm not a fan at all.
What's currently in your TOP 5 list to go to?
Oh I love dreaming about this stuff. Mexico, Brazil, Antarctica, Pakistan,Saudi Arabia, The first 3 are coming in 2014!
What was the most embarrassing travel situation you ever faced?
So, so, so many! One time in Rwanda I was walking past a huge crowd where they were distributing free tshirts, I was really broke and had no clean clothes left so I was keen to get a free tshirt myself. I got a little too eager to grab one and ended up being summoned onto the stage where I had to dance in front of the crowd in payment for the tshirt. Awful!
What was the most rewarding travel situation you encountered?
Selfishly, probably summiting mountains – Kinabalu, Kilimanjaro, Fuji, or Everest Base Camp. From a more humanitarian point of view, volunteering with Syrian refugee kids in Kurdistan, Iraq.
What is your most embarrassing travel pet peeve?
I will never pass a Subway sandwich place without eating, forgetting all about the local food. Footlong meatball all day long.
What's the most recent food discovery from your travels?
Hmm, I'm a papaya salad (SomTam) addict in Thailand. And kebabs all across the middle east, love it.
What was the most complicated flight itinerary you have ever booked?
Oh God. I was in Uzbekistan and I was trying to get to Iraq. I had to fly from Tashkent to Kazan in Russia (8 hour flight, then 8 hour layover). When I arrived it transpired I didn't have a Russian visa and kazan has no transit facilities, my layover was spent in a police office convincing them to let me through. Eventually from there I flew to Istanbul – 14 hours there, then to Adana in Turkey, 4 hours then and finally onto Arbil, Kurdistani Iraq. Nightmare!
What was the longest time you had no sleep/ hotel bed in a row? Tell us the story behind it!
So many, I did 72 hours on a train in Kazakhstan but we had a bed. Once I did 49 hours on buses in India/Nepal, no bed, just benches in a hot bus full of people. Hell.
What is your favorite hotel you stayed at?
Sri Panwa, Phuket or Niyama Maldives – unreal (and heavy prices)!
What airline/hotel are you craving to try?
I just wanna fly first class, any airline will do!
What are your favorite travel websites and why?
Wikitravel – can't get enough of it.
What gadgets help you out on your travels?
XE app on iPhone. Wikitravel offline on iPhone. Momondo for flights.
Where do you earn the majority of your miles? Credit Cards, Online Shopping Malls?
My AMEX business card.
Do you have a simple advice for a beginner – how to collect and use
I'm pretty awful at this, just started last year.