Interview with Travel Blogger Jonny Blair of Don’t Stop Living @jonnyblair

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Welcome to Travel Blogger Interviews. The place to discover the best as well as the up and coming great travel bloggers.

For our first ever interview I am honoured and proud to introduce to you Jonny Blair of Don’t Stop Living. Jonny is a very informative and entertaining blogger as you will find out below.

Jonny Blair and the Swazi ladies in Mantenga - Swaziland

Jonny Blair and the Swazi ladies in Mantenga – Swaziland

What is your name?
Jonny Blair

 

Which country do you come from/call home?
Northern Ireland. The Province. The Six Counties. Norn Iron. As I call it “our wee country”.

 

Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
Good question and I guess I can actually tick all those boxes!! I’m mostly a cheapskate backpacker. But I’m definitely a long term traveller too. I have been on business trips before. I also used to work on car ferries which meant I was travelling as I worked. I’ve lived abroad too in a few places, most recently Hong Kong and I’m pretty much always working when I travel too.

 

How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
Just by working hard and maximising my income. I like to keep busy and always try to have more than one job at the same time. I work hard to travel hard. Any job I can get I will do. Down the years I’ve been a barman, a cheeseburger seller, an ice cream man, a ferry steward, a PR rep, a cabbage weeder, a broccoli harvester, a pyrethrum planter, a postman. I’ve cleaned toilets, milked cows and even done security on a ferry. I’ve had about 50 jobs down the years. But I want to be a full time blogger and travel writer and recently I’ve had a few opportunities come up through my blog.

 

What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
We went to England when I was 6 and I remember having ice cream on a beach in Devon. Apart from that my first trip away from my family was in 1991 when I went to the Netherlands with the school. I had an amazing time and that gave me a flavour for travel for sure. I was only 11 so I had to wait a few more years until I could get out there properly and see the world.

 

Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Yes – a lot of places. I expected Pisa to be a nice city, but apart from the Leaning Tower and a few decent bars, I thought it was dire! I expected Antarctica to be a lot colder but it just wasn’t. It’s not that cold there. A few of us went swimming and even hiked up an island in a t-shirt. I also expected China to be a lot more touristy but it’s just not. I’ve been to cities like Nanchang, Chongqing, Shaoguan etc. and you just don’t see any foreigners about!

 

Jonny Blair at Half Moon Island Antarctica

Jonny Blair at Half Moon Island Antarctica

 

Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Of course – it’s part of the game. I’ve had too many to mention. I’ve been robbed in Prague, arrested in Zurich, searched for drugs and weapons in Venezuela, escaped muggings in Venezuela. I’ve also been refused a visa for Suriname (got it third time lucky). I’ve been on some crazyAnd there was one crazy moment when I went tubing in Vang Vieng and lost $1,000 US and my photos and camera in a river… More here – Jonny Blair’s crazy travel stories

 

Do you have any funny travel stories?
Again there’s a load of funny ones!! In Laos I had to poke an infection out of my mates foot. In London years ago I worked in PR and once dressed as a frog on the Underground system. I also showed my ass to the whole PR office on my last day as well as taking a shower and drinking a beer while a meeting was going on. My mate once drank a 3 litre bottle of cider in less than a minute on a hot bumpy bus in Leeds a few years back. I got naked in Antarctica and Bolivia. It was all good craic (banter) though! There was also the time I fed a hyena mouth to mouth in Harar in Ethiopia. More here – Jonny Blair’s funny travel stories

 

Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Venezuela. I hated it!! On the way in across the border from Cucuta (in Colombia) to San Antonio del Tachira I was searched and questioned for hours. It was horrible. I also had a bag slashing and got searched again on a night bus. I had a local guy try to follow me. I witnessed a cocaine and gun smuggling episode in downtown Caracas and I was also ripped off and ended up having to pay $70 US a night for a bed in a hotel room as I was there the time of the black market crash. It was a crazy few days. I even hired a personal taxi driver to take me to the airport for my flight out – the only time I’ve ever done that!

 

Where is your favourite place in the world?
From my travels I loved Antarctica – the pure clear and clean wilderness of a land untouched and not ruined by buildings. I loved it and recommend it to anyone.
However Northern Ireland will always be my favourite place. It’s where I grew up and I am proud of it and I love it.

 

Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I don’t like the term “bucket list”, it actually annoys me a bit. But I do have a list of things I want to see and do and it’s a long list. I’d like to visit 100 countries by the age of 35 and every country in the world by the age of 40. I’d like to own property in about 3 countries so I can pick and choose where to live. In terms of places, the South Pole, Everest Base Camp and the Sahara Desert are all on my list. As are some really remote places like Nagorno Karabakh, parts of Siberia, the Diomede Islands. I’ve seen Cape Horn from a ship about 3 miles away but I’d love to actually stand on Cape Horn.

 

Can you imagine life without travel?
Not really – I get pretty bored staying in the same place all the time so I’d just have to sit and watch football all day if I couldn’t travel.

 

If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
In terms of work, I’d be doing some kind of writing or PR work and possibly a few nights working in a pub as I love bar work. On a personal level I’d be watching football, hanging out with friends and family and going down the pub.

 

What is the name of your travel blog/website and the url?
Don’t Stop Living – http://dontstopliving.net I also use the tagline “A Lifestyle of Travel” and “The longest running one man travel guide to all seven continents”.

 

When did you begin your website?
The idea arose in July 2007, and it was on the 27th August 2007 that I wrote my first post on Don’t Stop Living (simply called “Welcome to Don’t Stop Living”.

 

Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I don’t really know! I just love doing it – and it’s a passion that has stuck with me. These days I’m really getting in on the interacting side of blogging and will be happy to make a bit of money of course!

 

What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
I’ve been around in the travel blogging game longer than anyone else. It’s the longest running one man travel guide to all seven continents. Yes, some bloggers have been travelling longer (like Wandering Earl for example) and some have visited more places (like Johnny Ward) but I’ve personally been writing travel blog posts constantly for 6 years. I give inspiration and detailed accounts of how to travel the world on a budget, but I really travel and work hard to do it. I’m not some wannabe sitting with a computer pretending I’ve been to all these places.

 

You’ve recently reached a major milestone with your site, please tell us about it?
There have been a few milestones but recently I just reached the 6 year mark which is pleasing! Earlier in the year I also wrote my official 1,000th Blog Post so that was nice. To celebrate I’m moving servers and getting a new logo done.

 

You are a prolific blogger, how do you find the time and inspiration for so many articles?
The inspiration comes naturally. I’ve about 1,000 post ideas just sitting waiting to be written at any given time from the last 10 years. Time is the hardest thing and neither myself, nor anyone else on the planet will ever find enough time. But I’m trying!

 

You recently wrote a fantastic post about toilet paper and going to the toilet whilst travelling. Is any topic off limits for you?
Not really – I cover everything that relates to a lifestyle of travel. Sex, robberies and doing poos are all part of the lifestyle so they’re in there. Some of the stories may appear in milder versions though to protect either myself or others involved. Other than that, it’s no holds barred!

 

You often refer to your lovely girlfriend. Is she also keen on travel?
She’s done more travelling than me so yes – she is crazy on it. I met her in Antarctica 3 years ago, then we hung out in Uruguay and now we have backpacked a lot together. She’s a more shy girl than me but I set her up a website, Travelling Hong Kong Girl which has some of her photos on. We’re heading backpacking round the Middle East next – one part of the world we haven’t really travelled in yet!

 

Do you have any products or services to offer now or in the near future?
Hopefully. I’ve been trying to get an e-Book written but being so busy with work has made it difficult. There will be a lot more to come. When you have 10 years experience of travelling, it’s easier to offer products and services. I currently help sell e-Books on my blog as an Affiliate Marketer.

 

What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
Gosh – good question. The most popular one on SEO Moz is my post about 10 ways to get sex on your travels
My post about Bad Airlines had the most comments I think so most reader engagement.
But my personal favourite is either 10 Unsung Heroes of Travel or How to Book a Cheap Trip to Antarctica as I got most joy out of writing them.

 

What has been your favourite article to write?
Anything on Taiwan, Antarctica or the Inca Trail. They were inspiring times on my travels and I love reminiscing about them.

 

When do you think you will go home and settle down?
It all depends on the definition of “home”. While Northern Ireland is where I’m from and it is home, I’d like to own a flat in three different countries so I can spend some time in each, Northern Ireland will probably be one of those, but I won’t choose to live there. By the age of 40 if I’ve been to every country, I can hopefully relax a bit more and travel for fun rather than hiking, sightseeing and to tick places off or to write about them. Things like going to relax on a beach are not really the types of travel I do, but someday it would be nice to do that. My girlfriend and I will more than likely base ourselves in Asia. It’s cheaper and safer than most other parts of the world.

 

Arrival at Tinas Upper Trail Hike - Yunnan - China

Arrival at Tinas Upper Trail Hike – Yunnan – China

What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
It’s always boat. I grew up in a seaside town and love being by the sea. As a child we got ferries to England, Scotland, Wales and France. I also spent a lot of time working on boats. I worked on island routes to the Isle Of Wight as well as Guernsey and Jersey. I loved working on the high speed car ferries from Poole and Weymouth to St. Malo and Cherbourg in France.
However trains and buses can be just as good.
Despite being on around 300 flights in my lifetime, I don’t really like flying. But it’s the only route between some places so I have to do it.

 

Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Ryanair or for long haul Singapore Airlines
Favourite country? Northern Ireland (I’m from there so I’m biased). Failing that maybe Taiwan, China, Uruguay, Bolivia or Australia!
Favourite city? Montevideo, Uruguay
Favourite beach? Kenting, Taiwan
Favourite food? Cheese on toast with bacon, baked beans and HP sauce or an Ulster Fry (Northern Irish all day breakfast)

 

Links
Twitter handle? @jonnyblair https://twitter.com/jonnyblair

 

Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Yes – don’t just think about it – do it! Get out there and see the world. Here’s my top 5 tips:
1. Do your own thing (don’t listen to people who say you can’t travel or it’s not good for you etc.)
2. Book a one way ticket and don’t plan
3. Work in multiple jobs at the same time to earn loads of cash
4. Meet as many people as you can
5. Always try to save money in any way you can

 

What has travel taught you?

That I can go anywhere at the drop of a hat and that if you put your mind to something and want it you will get it. So what are you all waiting for – if you’d like to see some of the world – get out there and see it. Stay happy and safe travels.

Jonny Blair
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Comments

  1. Thanks for the interview The Guy – best of luck with the site too and hope to catch up someday! Safe travels, Jonny

  2. Great interview! Will be heading over to check out your site Johnny. Keep living the dream 🙂

  3. Maria says:

    So glad to see Jonny interviewed here – he’s a fun nut and his site is full of great tips and features. Can hardly wait to see who you interview next and Kudos on creating this wonderful resource.

  4. Jonny is a great guy and world traveler. Great interview!

  5. Great interview Jonny! Sorry about the cash loss. I’ve never lost that much, but I have certainly had my bad days on the road. I’d love to visit Antarctica for the pureness and wholesomeness that you allude to. I am not a big fan of cold weather, but I would make an exception for that.

  6. Jonny is a blogging machine and comes across as a really top bloke. Great interview Jonny, and your blog is one of the most interesting travel blogs out there in my opinion.

  7. Jonny is a great guy – love his blog!

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