One thing I recently noticed when talking with community members and setting up interviews (like this one) is that I tend to immediately focus on two things: what have they done that I haven’t, and what are our similarities. I guess it’s just an interviewing thing where I’m trying to establish where to start the conversation.
Today’s guest has a lot in common with me in that travel wasn’t a part of our early lives. He’s certainly a busy guy, but I managed to pin him down for a bit of travel talk.
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Johnny Ward, founder of OneStep4Ward. I’ve been on the road since graduating in 2006, living, studying and traveling through more than 50 countries around the world. It’s been fun and luckily now my travel blog generates enough income so I can continue my life on the road! I left university and wanted to take a ‘year out’ teaching English, I did that and then never went home! Since then I’ve been able to set up my TEFL business, training other people to be English teachers (Teach Dot Travel), start another site for new backpackers, Aspiring Backpacker, with a few more projects on the way, including a book. It’s been an awesome few years and I hope it continues.
It’s interesting that you also grew up in a small, rural area and like me, travel now features prominently in your lifestyle. How do you think your upbringing affects your approach to travel?
I think it works one of two ways to be honest. Either you stay in that bubble, marry a local girl or guy, work and spend your life in that community, which is fine, if that makes you happy. Or it gives you a burning desire to break free, which is most certainly what it did for me. Coming from quite a poor, single parent family, I never got the opportunity to travel, so now I want to make the most of every opportunity I get.
I saw you’ve done one thing that’s at the top of my bucket list – Victoria Falls. How was it?
Wow, it was amazing! I bungeed off Victoria Bridge, the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. You jump into a circular rainbow caused by the mist from the waterfalls. Then when you’re finished, you’ve got Victoria Falls as your backdrop. What an experience! I was terrified, but it was worth the fear in the end.
Andy: Phew, sounds gorgeous, but I think I’d rather be, er, in a helicopter or something. 🙂
What’s been your most inspirational travel experience?
Quite early on in my travels, I hitched a ride on a Chinese cargo boat up the Mekong River through Laos and Burma (illegally) on a trip that I thought would be one day, but turned out to be the best part of a week! That was insane. Climbing Kilimanjaro, seeing Mount Everest, cage diving with Great White Sharks – it’s tough to choose only one!
Andy: Or snack with a hyena, it looks like… 🙂
Everybody loves a little luxury on their travels. What’s one thing you do to make your trip a bit more fun, comfortable, enjoyable?
I’m a sucker for wifi so I always try to find accommodation with that. And if I know I’m going to be partying hard, then I always try to make sure I have air conditioning for the next (hungover) day!
What’s next up on your bucket list?
2012 promises to be quite an epic year for me. I’m going from Tibet to Ireland by land through 30 or more countries. It should take the best part of a year, but I really can’t wait! The Trans-Siberian Railway is something I’ve always wanted to take, and visiting Mongolia and Kazakhstan should be immense too.
Andy: Wow, that sounds amazing. I love overland travel (especially trains), so am quite jealous, as you can imagine. Thanks for joining us to day, Johnny. Folks, if you’re feeling social, be sure to give him a follow over on Twitter.