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Meet the Gypsies : Jonny of Don’t Stop Living
Tatev Monastery in Armenia
1. Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you now?
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I am Jonny, a travelling Northern Irishman. I grew up in the seaside town of Bangor in Northern Ireland, spent 2/3 of my life living there. The other third I’ve been travelling and living around the world.
Right now I’m in the city of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala preparing for more hiking and the next part of my travels through Central America.
2. What’s your packing strategy? Heavy or light packer? Backpack or suitcase?
At the start I used to travel with a suitcase but sooner or later it became obvious that the suitcase weighed more than the contents that go in it so I ditched it for a backpack about 5 years back!! I pack heavy for work stuff and light on clothes. I carry my laptop, books, hard drive and notebooks etc. for work and blogging. But for clothes I’ve got just one jacket, one jumper, 4 t-shirts and 1 pair of shoes. I can also get away with not packing many toiletries as you always pick up free soap and shower gel in hostels, hotels etc.
3. How do you afford your travels? Budget traveler or lean more towards luxury?
I have afforded it by working hard. I’ve had around 50 different jobs down the years, sometimes working in 3 jobs at the same time. Most of my life I’ve been a barman, but I’ve also done a lot of farming work, teaching, customer service and even banking and PR. I never waste money on things like rent, bills, phones etc. I spend all my money on travel, football, food and drink. I always budget as much as I can and I am cheap – I stay in hostel dorms, on floors, in bus stations etc. and I eat only when hungry. My luxuries are beer and football and I try and squeeze as much of them in as possible!
4. If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?
It would have to be either The Moon, the peak of Mount Everest or the South Pole. That hat-trick will be the hardest to conquer and it would be a complete dream to visit any one of them!
5. Is there anywhere you won’t travel to and why?
Yes – I wouldn’t go to Venezuela. It’s the only country I despised everything about and will never go back. I don’t want to give them any more time and money. It’s full of frauds, scams, rip offs, guns, drugs and everything in mankind I disagree with. Of course there are some decent people there and I have a few Venezuelan friends, but most of the country are unwelcoming.
6. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve eaten?
It’s a good question and there are a few contenders:
7. You have been to all 7 continents – a big deal for travelers. Which has been your favorite?
Well it’s obviously Antarctica – that continent is the dream one. It’s just incredible to see a land with peace, no human murders, no office blocks, no advertising and just a place to admire the beauty of the landscape.
Second favourite has to be South America, especially Suriname, Uruguay and Bolivia. Loved the entire continent in fact (except Venezuela) and will definitely go back at some point to see Easter Island and Galapagos – the two parts I missed out on so far.
Monte Alban, Mexico
8. You’re based in Hong Kong. Do you work there or just simply enjoy it there and wanted a homebase?
I tend to base myself in Hong Kong 5-6 months a year. I have worked in bars and schools there quite a lot over the last 3 years but these days I spend most of my working life in front of my laptop. My girlfriend comes from Hong Kong and it is a safe and eclectic city to stay in. However I feel I need to experience more places first so I’m considering Central America or Africa at some point next year for a base.
9. What’s the #1 item on your bucket list?
Hmm I’m not a fan of the term “bucket list” but…well it was Antarctica and I did it. Then it was to watch a World Cup final and I did it. Next up will be to hit the 100 country mark. After that, I think visiting Cameroon would be high up on my list as I have longed to go there for over 20 years now. There’s a lot of the world to see out there!
10. You’ve been traveling non-stop for about a decade. Do you plan to continue for as long as you can or do you want to settle down?
I want to take breaks now and then as I have done in the past – once I get my book written, I will chill out for a month or so. I have no plans to actually settle down in the same place. I get bored of the same place after a while.
11. Most importantly, where to next?
El Salvador then Honduras. After a stint in Central America I would like to return to Europe as I have neglected that continent for about 5 years now, spending only 2-3 weeks there. I’d like to see Romania and Moldova and visit my family and friends in England and Northern Ireland as I haven’t dedicated much time to them recently.
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