Travel and Making Big Lifestyle Choices – An Interview with Johnny Ward
In 2006 Johnny Ward was an Irish student about to graduate from University. Unlike so many who choose to follow a standard routine of graduating, finding a job, getting a mortgage, and saving for retirement, Johnny decided to do something very different. In 2006 he left Ireland and has been living a life of travel, journeying across the world and supporting himself with various jobs, projects, and ventures. His aim is to travel to every country in the world, work through his ever-growing bucket list, and become a millionaire without ever having to work in an office. He runs a popular travel blog, which I recommend you check out. Over the past years he has done some pretty amazing stuff.
Wayfaring Student: Tell us a bit about yourself and the lifestyle you lead.
Johnny Ward: Sure buddy, each year I travel nine or ten months, then I ‘pause’ and recover from my travels in Thailand where I try to spend three months a year. During my travels, I work in regions – last year Latin America, this year West Africa, with a goal to visit every country in the world. It’s fun, I’m free and I don’t have to work in an office.
I run a small online marketing company from my laptop, have a small team of awesome people who work with me and we all pull together allowing all of us to be office-free and able to live where we want, and go where we want. It’s pretty cool, but no lifestyle is perfect. I’m sort of always on holiday, yet never on holiday.
WS: What was your life like before you changed it around?
JW: I’ve been generating revenue on the internet for almost five years, prior to that my life was still very much travel orientated. I graduated from university in ’06, worked on a summer camp in the States, then traveled. Moved to Thailand to teach English, then traveled. Taught at some winter camps in South Korea, then traveled. Moved to Australia for a year, then traveled – then cracked the online game. I’ve never really joined the ‘real world’, and nor do I want to.
WS: What was the major driver behind your decision to pursue your current lifestyle?
JW: I just wanna be free buddy. Free to go where I want, to travel as long and as far as I want, to be passionate about my life. Not to worry about some company or manager that I couldn’t care less about, living pay check to pay check. I always wanted something different.
WS: What else inspired you?
JW: Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Workweek was big, as was Nomadic Matt’s mentioning of making money blogging. Other than that, it was self-driven to be honest. I wasn’t going to work a ‘career’ for my whole life, so I had to work out something different.
WS: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
JW: Finances, for sure. I’ve been living this lifestyle for nine years, the first five I was absolutely broke. It was fun, I was in my mid-twenties but as I got a little older I began to think “Shit, what am I gonna do medium to long term, how will I afford a house, or a family??”. That was creeping up on me, but fortunately I worked out a way to do it.
WS: What do you love most about your lifestyle?
JW: The freedom, no doubt. I don’t have to answer to anyone, I don’t have to pretend to be interested in things I’m not interested in. I can follow my passions thoroughly and it’s awesome.
WS: Of all the places you have lived and visited, which is your favourite?
JW: Wow, it’s tough mate. It’s all about the people – so the places I’ve had my best experiences are the places where my loved ones joined me – my mum, my girlfriend, my best buddies. With that in mind then I’d say for luxury – the Maldives, for culture – India, for ‘real’ travel – Ethiopia, for adventure – New Zealand.
WS: Why do you think there aren’t more people living life as you are?
JW: Social conformity and lack of belief. People think it’s not possible, that and parental expectations, societal expectations – often to create a life like mine, you have to struggle through a broke period. If you don’t do that when you’re young, the opportunity costs raise as you get older – ‘good job’, mortgage etc. I didn’t have anything to lose, but if you’re thirty, or forty, or fifty, you do. That’s tough.
WS: What are your plans for the future?
JW: I wanna finish every country in the world next year, visas permitting but that’s my dream. I’m launching an education start-up in Hong Kong with a biz partner, and I’d love to write a book in the future too. Oh, and climb Everest. That would be unreal.
WS: What would you say to those who want what you have but are afraid to take that first big step?
JW: The key is making money online. Once you can do that, you’re truly free. My advice would be to start a blog, build a following and then work out the next steps a year or so later.
By Ferdinand Götzen