TeachingTraveling.com: So glad to meet you, Johnny Ward! Please tell us a bit about your background.
Johnny: I’m Johnny, a born and bred Irishman. I lived in Northern Ireland until 2002 when I moved to England to study International Economics at university. I graduated in the summer of 2006 and have been on the road ever since.
I taught in both Thailand and Korea, worked a bit in the USA, and Australia and now I’m running my blog. So technically, I have never had a “real job,” as my grandmother constantly says. I hope to keep it that way!
TT: Tell us more about your travels.
J: I could write all day about this! As I said, I left in the summer of 2006, so I have been on the road for more than 4 years now: traveling, working, studying, and volunteering in about 50 countries. Right now I’m in Sudan coming to the end of my Cape Town to Cairo trip via public bus, and it’s been unreal! In fact, I just saw a camel sacrificing ceremony in Khartoum, Sudan last week. You can check out the video on my Facebook page!
TT: Wowza! How do you find these travel opportunities?
J: When I first left the UK in ’06, it was initially for one year out to “get travel out of my system” before settling down to a career in finance.
How things have changed! I started realizing you don’t have to be rich to live your dreams.
TT: So how do you find money to fund these travels?
J: This is such a common question, and one which is easy and difficult to answer at the same time. First off, international long-term travel isn’t anywhere near as expensive as people think.
I’m not from a rich family by any stretch of the imagination, yet in the last 4 years I’ve been traveling around the world for 2 years, working 3 hours a day, 4 days a week in Thailand and saving enough money from my job in Sydney, Australia to pay my entire Masters degree fees up front and fund my Cape Town to Cairo trip. Anyone can do it, you just have to be proactive. I have loads of explanations on my website, OneStep4Ward.
TT: Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful, and one that made you chuckle.
J: The thing that really hit home was the poverty in Bangladesh. I was backpacking and I ended up meeting a really cool Bangladeshi guy who let me stay with him. It turned out it was in the slums, but everyone was so happy to see me.
Seeing the poverty that they kids, especially, deal with every day made me realize how lucky we, as westerners, are with the opportunities we get. That’s why I want to live my life to the fullest and truly make the most of my chances.
In terms of crazy stories, there are so many from 4 years on the road. I was in Somalia recently and ended up drinking gin (alcohol is illegal there) with a Saudi property tycoon. That was a mental situation!
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a teacher, and in your career in general?
J: Teaching is something I’ll always be interested in, and my time teaching in Korea and Thailand was amazing. However, my travels have led me down a different path and now I’m studying my Masters in Education Management. I would like to go down the route of designing education programmes for impoverished communities and countries.
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a person?
J: Oh wow! Endlessly, to be honest! First of all, I enjoy my life far more now and I try to appreciate everything I see and do!
Patience is something that develops naturally as you travel too. I guess it’s all those 18 hour buses!
TT: What advice do you have for other teachers who are dreaming of travel?
J: Clichéd I know, but just do it! I always think it’s better to regret something you did than something you didn’t, so why not?!
Living and working in other countries is one of the best ways to experience other ways of life and to top it off, your resume will look awesome with an international teaching stint on it too.
When I get stressed about what to do, I like to read some inspirational quotes, so here are a few which I hope will help anyone reading this, too.
If anyone out there is having any doubts, feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to help you out.
My email is Johnny at onestep4ward.com.
TT: Thanks so much, Johnny! You seem like a super-fun, mega-inspirational fellow!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is a 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English from Boston who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs AroundTheWorld L.com Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational art. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following @WorldLillie on social media!