Off The Beaten Path Interviews

An inside look at Earth’s explorers

Johnny Ward from OneStep4Ward is a pretty inspiring guy, if not for how much he’s traveled, then for how he has sustained that travel. From bucket lists to rants, authenticity to making money overseas, Johnny has ideas to share …and we are happy to listen!

Meet Johnny Ward

Johnny Ward in a lookout tower

Johnny in a lookout tower – the world is his oyster

You talk about lifestyle design, the idea that one can redesign their lifestyle and create the life that they want. Tell us a little about what that means to you and how you’ve done it in your own life through long-term travel.

The concept is pretty simple actually; it revolves around the wrongly-held belief that we have to sell our time for money. We have to give our youth to ‘career development’ and that the pillars of our society revolve around a hard day’s work for a hard day’s pay. I hate all that. I think it’s bullsh*t. I wanna enjoy my life, I wanna make more money than some middle management executive can ‘offer’ me and I wanna enjoy my life first, generate revenue second. That’s lifestyle design.

My motto (or mantra at times) is that I’ve traded stability for freedom, in essence saying that I can’t be upset when things aren’t stable, because it’s the price I pay for staying out of a “financial prison” as you call it. Have you braved unstable times in the name of maintaining your freedom to roam?

Absolutely. I come from a poor family, studied finance at uni and had plans to get rich via the ‘normal’ path. Then I started traveling, started thinking more, started reading more and realized that a life in the cubicle was awful, regardless of fat pay cheques. So I traveled broke as a joke for a couple of years, my head started working overtime, how could I sustain this awesome lifestyle but still become a millionaire! So that’s where I am now, on my way to that!

Johnny Ward with a hyena

Johnny playing tug-of-war with a hyena

You talk about a turning point when you found life redundant and decided to seek more through off-the-beaten-path travel. What was the final straw and where did your break with social conformity lead you?

I wouldn’t say I ever thought life was redundant, but I certainly was fed up watching a constant stream of middle-class white kids on their rite of passage through south east asia. Going tubing in Vang Vieng and declaring “Laos is the BEST country in the world, no doubt”. So I wanted to see something different, and off i went.

So, I heard you’ve just reached your 100th country, certainly a dream for anyone passionate about travel. What country was it? How did you feel about achieving that goal?

The Maldives, I stayed at the Niyama resort – SOOO amazing! I always dreamt of visiting 100 countries before 30, and back in my broke days it felt a long way off. It’s nice, but now I have bigger dreams to move on to.

Johnny Ward with local kids

Johnny ‘chillin’ with local kids

You have a section of your website dedicated to making money overseas, an enormous question lingering over most wanna-be nomads’ heads. What are your recommendations for maintaining long-term travel on a small (or non-existent) budget?

Make it a bigger budget! Look online and find a source of income, even if it just supplements your travels. If you really wanna see the world, a drunken 3 month trip won’t quench your thirst so you need to find a way to sustain it. Online income is that way.

Blogging is an important skill for a modern travel geek, but can often get stale or repetitive. How do you keep your blog fresh and your audience engaged?

My facebook page is very active and I’m always on the move, not like a lot of other ‘travel’ bloggers. People can see my authenticity, so that keeps people engaged i think.

Johnny Ward in Borneo

Johnny climbing to the top of Mt Kinabalu in Borneo

So I must confess that I love your bucket list. What inspired you to do it? What’s the thing you’re proudest to have marked off the list?

Being mortgage free in my twenties, without doubt. I never thought I’d be able to do that from my laptop, jumping country to country for 7 years, but I did. And the only way is up 🙂

What drives your motivation to travel and be more than you are? DO you have a ‘lifestyle design’ or mantra that drives you ‘4ward’? If so, what is it and how do you keep yourself in check? Please feel free to share your stories and feedback in the comment section below!