One of our favorite travelers Jonny from dontstopliving.net drops by for a chat…
What’s your advice for aspiring travelers?
Work hard, save money and head off into the sunset. That’s all you’ll need to travel the world. I’d also recommend buying a one way ticket – ignore all these “round the world trips” as they have a definite ending. This is your adventure. Nobody says it has to end. And while you’re out there seeing the world – head away from the normal tourist resorts and really see the world! Off the beaten track places are normally the best. You’ll have them all to yourself!
Did you make any rookie mistakes when you first started traveling?
Yes and I still make them. Probably far too many to mention in fact but that’s how you learn and become a good traveller. I have booked hostels I never stayed in, flights I never took and even a teaching course in a country I hadn’t even booked a ticket for! I have learnt through my mistake not to book things too far in advance as my travel plans always change.
I’ve also learnt over the years to study and scrutinise exact visa requirements for every country you’re heading to. It took me 5 visit to the embassy to get my Suriname Visa in 2011. Never again do I want to go through that hassle.
Another common mistake is packing too much. You won’t need half of it – I know that’s cliches but it’s cheap to buy things like umbrellas, soap (normally free), toothpaste etc. on the road. Pack the minimum you’ll need and off you go.
I have also been ripped off a lot in my early travel days as I didn’t bargain enough. Now I’m an expert – I walk away from merchants that annoy me and try to rip me off and I get things cheap all the time thanks to my bargaining skills.
What has been your most valuable lesson learned from travel?
Difficult question – maybe to always carry enough money and keep it in different places. I’ve lost a load of money down the years and it’s one of the most important things we need to travel. One day in Laos I lost $1,000 in a river while I was out tubing. It was a bad day…
What changes did you make in order to save money for your travels?
They weren’t really changes, but I basically always work in multiple jobs at the same time to maximise my income streams. That way you earn more so you have more. You work more so you have less time to spend the money and after a few months doing that you suddenly can take time off to spend the money you’ve worked hard for.
Aside from that, I don’t buy luxuries or large items. I’ve never owned a bed, a wardrobe or a TV. Currently my most expensive item is my laptop and my largest item is my backpack.
What inspired you to start traveling?
Watching the football World Cup when I was a kid and seeing all these flags and countries on TV and in my football sticker albums. I use to think – I wonder what Montevideo is like, I’d love to visit Africa and was fascinated by the diverse place names and odd languages. Hence why Russia and China were 2 of the first major countries I visited.
What has been the most under rated country you have been to and why?
I could name a lot for this question but I’ll just name one. Ethiopia. Nobody really talks about it yet this country houses about 7 or 8 world heritage sites, it has great mountains, amazing people, an economic boom and you can do some crazy stuff there. You can feed hyenas mouth to mouth and visit a volcano which is up near the border with Djibouti. I wasn’t expecting much from it and was inspired completely!
Fun Fast Five
If you could only describe yourself as one would it be: beach bum, city slicker or country bumpkin?
We’ll go country bumpkin as I grew up in a small town and loved playing football down the park as a kid. I love the open air. Oddly though I have spent a fair bit of time living in big cities too (mostly Sydney, Hong Kong and London) but I’d rather be working on a farm.
What has been the weirdest thing you have eaten (on purpose!)?
It’s a toss up between Dog Meat Soup (Bosintang) in Seoul, South Korea or Guinea Pig (Cui al Horno) in Peru. I won’t be making either of them my first choice meal. I’m pretty happy with cheese on toast and a bit of bacon!
If you could travel with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
James Bond – no need to worry about money or visa issues and every day would be an adventure. Out of the actors, Roger Moore would be the best to have a cold beer with. Plus you get to go to exotic places and sit on the beach all the time. It’s not all about killing people with James Bond.
Favorite country and why?
Northern Ireland. We are a country. We are an unknown country and we are always undermined. It’s my home and I’m proud of it. We have some amazing landscapes, great food, great pubs and famous people. We have 3 of the World’s Best golfers (Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke), we once had the number one footballer (George Best), Formula 1 driver (Eddie Irvine) and our rock bands like Snow Patrol, Ash, Undertones and Van Morrison are famous the world over. We just need more tourists! Go visit Belfast and Northern Ireland. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
What was the first overseas trip you took?
I was 11 when I first went on a trip without my family. I went to the Netherlands with the school and loved it. I had a flavour for travel and I still have my travel diary from that trip and have kept some souvenirs from it. It was the freedom of being out seeing the world. A freedom which has inspired me ever since.