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Dublin: 9 °C Monday 12 November, 2018
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This 31-year-old Irishman ditched the '9 to 5' to travel the world and is making millions on the way

“The only time you set your alarm is for a flight, no boss, no schedule just the open road.”

Image: One Step 4 Ward via Facebook

JOHNNY WARD GAVE up his 9 to 5 job to travel the world but has since found a way to build a business earning him almost €1 million along the way.

The 31 year old grew up in the small town of Kilkeel, Co Down. He graduated from university in 2006 after studying International Economics in England.

He then moved to Thailand to teach English, where he ended up living for a year. He told TheJournal.ie:

I finished my last university exam on a Thursday afternoon in June in 2006, and I was on a flight to the USA at breakfast the next day.

After a few years of budget backpacking and ending up broke, Ward moved to Sydney in 2009 where he lived and worked for a year. While he was earning good money and liked the country, he didn’t enjoy the 9 to 5 lifestyle.

In 2010 he left for Africa. It was around that time he also decided to set up a blog called onestep4ward.com. From that he created his digital media company Step4WardMedia in 2012, which provides corporate blogging for companies, manages their social media and deals with their SEO.

11188265_830330110355147_5221739741090224387_n Ward in Tibet Source: OneStep4Ward via Facebook

Johnny explained, “Basically it’s a digital/online marketing company. We give companies a voice on the internet – whether that’s through them outsourcing their blogging, their social media or simply playing with the google search results to help them feature more highly.

“A lot of companies, especially smaller ones, simply don’t have the manpower to do it themselves, and every company should have a blog and social media these days, so we fill that gap.

Personally, I’ve cracked just shy of €1 million in the last three years, which growing up in a single-parent family in Ireland, is hard to believe to be honest.

“Staff varies between five and 12 depending on how we’re doing, but all the staff are online, no working hours, all laptop based, no office which is pretty cool.”

Looking forward 

The 31 year old is currently in Angola, the 154th country he has visited. He plans to keep going until he has seen 193.

“I hope to have visited every country by August/September next year, so it’ll be a touch over 10 years in total.”

Ward says his favourite thing about travelling is “the freedom”.

“It’s addictive.”

The only time you set your alarm is for a flight, no boss, no schedule just the open road. Of course all the different food, and amazing scenery is awesome but it’s the freedom that gets me.

However, he also admits that “there’s a lot tough things about it”.

“A gap year is awesome, or living abroad is awesome and often there are no downsides, but traveling long term is tough.

“It’s lonely, it’s bad for your health with weird sleeping and eating patterns, it’s tough on relationships, you miss weddings etc but I’m not complaining, I choose this lifestyle so I accept the rough with the smooth. That being said I’m looking forward to slowing down a little bit once I reach my goal next year.”

When asked if he’s made any exceptions for dangerous countries in his plans to travel the world, the 31 year old said:

“No exceptions at all. North Korea, Somalia, Iraq and Syria are all done already…Yemen, Libya and Afghan are still to come.”

11825019_873018526086305_107618241737870543_n Johnny in Maseru, Lesotho. Source: OneStep4Ward via Facebook

Speaking about the types of places he stays in, Ward said he had five years of staying in the cheapest options imaginable, such as sleeping docks and train stations. Then he upgraded to guest houses and now he stays in hotels.

Although if I’m lonely I’ll sometimes still head to a hostel, although never a dorm. Those days are gone.

“You can meet people in every country, but in over a third of the countries of the world, it’ll only be local people I hang out with, tourists rarely venture outside the main fifty countries or so.”

11393122_850692261652265_4898698462865443222_n At Moevenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida'a Kuwait. Source: OneStep4Ward via Facebook

Home Sweet Home

Speaking about home Ward says, “I miss my friends and family for sure.”

He describes the people from his home town as “super friendly” adding, “The town itself is wedged between the ocean and the Mourne Mountains so it’s gorgeous, but there’s not much to do.

“Nightlife, restaurants, business opportunities – so for me I knew I would always leave, that being said I absolutely love going back home, it’s one of the things I look forward to most when I’m traveling.”

He added that during “the first five or six years of my travels, I was super broke so I only made it home twice in almost five years, but business has changed a little bit so now I make it home for most Christmases and hopefully once more during the year too.”

When asked about his most cherished memory from his experience so far, Ward says it was “buying my apartment in Thailand, then my mum flying over to see it”.

She supported my decisions to travel the world during my broke years, never making a penny, and now for the business to work out, it was a beautiful moment to be able to fly her to Thailand, put her up in my place and know I’m mortgage free and we could share that together.

11717555_859072897480868_1783330444779131908_o Ward with his Mum in Tunes, Aryanah, Tunisia. Source: OneStep4Ward via Facebook

Ward says that over the years he’s learnt “how lucky we are”.

“If we can speak English, have an education, a strong passport and an internet connection then we shouldn’t ever complain about our situation, we should appreciate it first and then make the most of it. Anything else is a waste.

And his plans for the future after he’s traveled the world?

“Ideally, depending on business, I’d love to spend four months in Thailand, four months in the UK and Ireland and four months traveling for the rest of my life. That’d be cool.”

Read: This Irish hotel has been named as the best in the world>

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