Johnny Ward from Kilkeel became a millionaire by travelling the world
We spoke to Johnny about how he developed his travel blog.
I was born in Galway, but after some family problems I ended up growing up in Kilkeel, County Down from age 2 to 18. I had a happy childhood here, we didn't have much money but living between the mountains and sea was beautiful, we were outside, it was safe and fun. I have fond memories of the 90s in County Down. I grew up in a single-mother household, and thankfully my mum never dragged me into any of the political rubbish in Northern Ireland, that was the biggest reason I ultimately left NI when I was 18.
I absolutely love coming home, I don’t think I ever appreciated how beautiful NI is, and how friendly the people are, until I was that little bit older, living overseas and coming back.
I went to Uni in Loughborough, England from 18-22, so I left Kilkeel young. Then literally the day after I finished my final exam I flew to New York City, I never lived back in Ireland, or the UK from that day on. I worked and lived in South Korea, Thailand, Australia, had that stint working on summer camps in the US, but now I'm based back in Thailand, where I spend 3/4 months a year when I'm not travelling.
How did the business develop?
Initially when I went to Asia I was working as an English teacher, then I was working in corporate sales in Australia so it was until 2009/2010 that I started my blog, onestep4ward.com, and then began to make money from it. From mid-2010 until mid-2012 it was ticking along well, but then during 2012 I realised how possible it was to make money from this kind of thing, so I took it more seriously, so by the end of 2012 I knew I was onto something!
Have you really visited every Country in the world?
Haha, yes, every single country! As far as I'm aware, I'm the only person from the island of Ireland ever to do so, I'm hoping some more people will get out there and join me on the journey!
What are your plans for the future?
I'm aiming to become the first person in history to visit every country, north pole, south pole and the 7 highest mountains on the 7 continents. Working on that at the moment. Also, I started my givebackgiveaway.com foundation where we build schools, playgrounds, dormitories for communities around the world who are struggling to get ahead, we do one project every 3 months and I bring my blog readers along with me to help with the build that keeps me busy too.
What do you miss about Northern Ireland?
The warmth of the people, the way you can chat to any and everybody. And the pub culture, nothing quite like it.
Do you come back home often?
My journey to every country took 10 years, the first 5 years I was stone cold broke, so I think I was only home once during that time. The last 5/6 years, with my mum pushing 70, I get home a couple of times per year, and I absolutely love it. Home cooked food, old friends, it's always amazing to be home!
You feature Northern Ireland on your blog was that important for you?
Yes! I'm proud of our beautiful home. It's had a troubled past, but we're hopefully looking beyond that now. As a tourist destination, it could be huge - it needs a lot more creative marketing, but as a destination, it's one of the best.