Wednesday 29 June 2016

Irish backpacker who funded his travel with medical research earnings turns decade-long worldwide trip into €1m business

John Brennan

Published 09/03/2016 | 13:32

Johnny Ward
Johnny Ward
Johnny Ward
Johnny Ward
Johnny Ward

As success stories go, they don't come much bigger than this.

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An Irishman has turned a shoestring-budget backpacking trip he started 10 years ago into a €1m enterprise.

Johnny Ward (32), who now only has eight countries left to visit on his adventure, is the creator of travel blog www.OneStep4Ward.com.

The travel blog has chronicled his adventures across the globe over the past few years to places like Turkmenistan, Senegal and Thailand to name only a few.

Johnny explained how he grew up with family problems and under severe financial restraints – so much so that he, his sister and his mother “couldn’t go overseas or afford a car.”

He was born in Galway, but grew up in Co Down and maintained it was always his dream to go globetrotting.

Johnny Ward
Johnny Ward

After a trip to the US in his early 20s poor money management saw his dreams cut short and his mother paid for a flight home for him back to Ireland a lot sooner than expected.

He “signed up for some pretty intense medical research” when he got back and earned over €3,000 from this, he told The Mirror.

Johnny used the money to pay back his mother for his flight home, as well as paying for an English teaching diploma and a flight to Thailand and that’s where his travel adventures started.

He spent several years scrounging around on a shoestring budget but eventually he grew tired of the constant financial restraints he was under.

Johnny Ward
Johnny Ward

“In 2009 I realised I was 26, with no career, and it was getting old how broke I was,” he explained.

After this realisation he decided to dabble in a 9-5 and he moved and began working in Sydney, Australia.

He stayed there for 10 months saving a whopping €20,000 slogging away at his 9-5 job, but itchy feet caused him to hit the road again.

The Galway-born globetrotter then booked a one-way flight to Zimbabwe taking his fledgling blog on full-time.

A few years on from that one-way flight he has some 80,000 monthly subscribers and from sponsorship he is a self made millionaire with properties in both London and Bangkok – he is based in the latter.

One of the last few countries left on his bucket list is Yemen.

“Yemen is one of the last I have left and there’s a civil war there so it’s a no-fly zone, the border with Saudi Arabia is closed and the other with Oman is patrolled by ISIS, so I don’t how I’ll do it,” he explained.

He is currently in the Pacific Islands and has only eight countries left to tick off his travel list.

With a schedule that boasts only 10-20 hours of work per week from his laptop wherever he is in the world, he has realised his dream and is even in talks with Red Bull for his own TV show.

To follow Johnny’s adventures around the world visit his website.

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