Thursday, 18 July 2013

How Travel Changed My Life by Jonny Blair of Don't Stop Living

It was July 2002. Life was pretty much going nowhere for me. I worked in my local butchery in Bangor in Northern Ireland. When I got paid every Friday, I'd go to the local pub and spend my money. Repeat the same thing every week and life got a bit repetitive and boring. One day there was a foot and mouth crisis and we ran out of meat in the butchery, so I got sent home early. On that spare afternoon, I had a new idea and life had to change. I used my assets and my passion to engineer a new plan. I had a media studies qualification from my teenage years studying in Belfast. I knew the capital city of Paraguay. I knew how to save money. Add geography to media to money saving skills and I decided that was it - I was off to see the world. I engineered a path to Bournemouth in England, initially to study a degree...

When I got to Bournemouth however I was having way too much fun...within a year I had been working in three jobs and had mates from over 40 countries around the world. I was inspired and I knew I wasn't returning to the streets of Northern Ireland. I had forgotten about my degree, I was working so much and I was backpacking round England, then Europe at any given opportunity. I bunged something like twenty countries into my first few years of basing myself there and then I wanted more. I headed backpacking around the world.

While I sipped beer in Toronto in Canada on my first real backpacking trip, I met some travel bloggers and so I set up Don't Stop Living (my one man, seven continents travel blog). Well that was in 2007. Six years down the line I can say my life has changed entirely from that day we ran out of meat in the local butchery.

I visited China in 2007 for the first time, I bungy jumped and sky dived my way through New Zealand and I was inspired. Just in case life ever went "tits up" I quickly headed back to Bournemouth and finished my degree (in honesty I scraped through it after backpacking through Italy, Sweden and France!) and then after a stint selling ice cream and working on car ferries, I headed to Taiwan.

A few weeks in Taiwan and I was inspired by the people I met. I met backpackers who lived on $5 US a day, I spent hours waiting on buses up the East Coast to cities I'd never heard of, I drank with strangers and I was officially now a nomad. I remember the day I called myself a nomad. Nobody could disagree, I didn't really have a "home" anymore. My best mate (I'll namecheck him - Neil Macey) let me sleep on his sofa with the hope I'd return the favour further down the line.

Within a month, I'd kept my promise by sharing a room with him in a flat I found, then I was working in a pub and soon we were backpacking our way round Australia. Working in any jobs we could get and we were totally inspired. We still found time for beer and football - our two loves - he headed to Korea and I left myself stranded in Tasmania to pick up the pieces. Then I got a job on a broccoli farm in the mountains of central Tasmania. I didn't see civilisation for months. But I worked hard - 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for a few months. I earned a bucket load of cash. So I booked a trip to Antarctica. Then I worked in a pub for a few months to save more money to do South America while I was at it.

By the age of thiry I had bunged all seven continents and over sixty countries into my travel repertoire and I was "only a barman" or a "broccoli farmer". Yes I saved hard, worked hard and lived my dream and I'm proof that anyone can do it.

In between times, I worked on car ferries, I milked cows, I taught English, I backpacked in Africa, I studied in Montevideo and I worked in Hong Kong. Life was crazy. I was rolling through cities and writing about it - I was so passionate about travel. I didn't think anyone was even reading my stories. But they were and I started getting e-mails asking for travel tips. I changed my blog domain and theme and set myself on working on my travel blog non-stop. Then recently I got scouted out as a travel expert and I now work for a few travel sites as well as posting endlessly on my own travel blog. I work on side projects nowadays and I get the odd sponsored media trip through my travel stories. I even still manage to find time to teach English! Right now I'm about to board a flight to Burma before heading to Tanzania, North Korea and Azerbaijan. I am living my travel dreams and hoping to inspire everyone else to do it too!!

I'm just sharing my story of how one small instant can change your life like that. In the blink of an eye. I now run one of the top travel blogs on the internet and travel the world without boundaries or inhibitions. I'm a professional nomad and I love it. Yet I started off as a guy working in a local shop. With nothing...

It doesn't take much to change your life or live your dreams. I now plan my entire lifestyle around travel. But that's not what I want to say - I just want to tell you this - YOU CAN DO IT TOO. If you want to get out and see the world, you can...

Here's my top 3 tips on how to do it, you'll not need to hear anything else:

1. Book a one way flight and off you go into the sunset...
2. Take any job you can get and don't be fussy - it's money...
3. Head off the beaten track to places nobody else ever goes...

And that my friends is how I changed my life over a period of ten years. It's a cliche but "if I can do it, anyone can do it" and let's leave it to Bruce Springsteen, "They'll pass you by, glory days..."

To keep up with Jonny Blair and his one man travel blog, visit Don't Stop Living. Follow Jonny on Twitter, Facebook  and Jonny's YouTube channel.


  1. Thanks for the opportunity guys! Hope your readers like it. Safe travels. Jonny

  2. Hey its Jack William from UK, great blog, keep sharing. For cheap tickets for UK visit euroafricatravel.!!

  3. There will be no voice acted version due to the fact that the original voice actors would be way too expensive and a fan version would destroy the immersion.
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