Successful Nomad: Jonny Blair

In Successful Nomads by Virginie1 Comment


Have you even wondered how people can travel and support themselves at the same time? It’s not as difficult as it seems! To show you that there are already plenty of people doing it, and that you can do it too, we’ve interviewed different kinds of nomads. They were all given 30 questions, with a minimum of 10 to answer.

Jonny Blair is the one answering them for us today! You can find him at

Jonny Blair backpacking in Kaluts desert Iran

1) Where are you from?

I grew up in the town of Bangor in Northern Ireland.

2) What is your background?

I am from a small town, I left school aged 17, studied Journalism then hated the fakeness of it all. I studied Irish history and politics too, and Sociology then I moved into Public Relations and Marketing. Through all of that, I had a love for travel and football. Combine it all together and I use all my experience and knowledge to backpack the world on a budget writing about it. None of my family are that interested in travel, I’m the black sheep.

3) What is your job?

I am a professional travel blogger. I have been writing since I was 15, so about 21 years. For 9 of those years I have been writing about travel, at other times it was football, music and politics. I prefer travel writing and I own a network of websites. All in all, professional travel blogging covers many different jobs within it, such as affiliate marketing, advertising, planning itineraries, writing and editing books, copywriting, telling stories and many more. I never have a spare moment in my day, nor do I crave one.

4) How much money do you make per month?

It varies, the most I have earned would be around $5,000, the lowest would be $1,000. I’m not a big fan of setting limits or getting worried about income, as long as I have enough to maintain my current lifestyle.

5) How long have you known you wanted to be a digital nomad?

I never wanted to be a digital nomad, nor had I even heard of it until about four years ago. But somehow in the madness of life, this is what I have become. I write this from a WiFi café in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

6) How did you start your online career?

I met two travel bloggers in Toronto in Canada in 2007 and they had blogs. I didn’t know what a travel blog even was back then but I transferred all my written notes from pen and paper onto the internet and started my travel blog, Don’t Stop Living! It took 5 years until I realised it was a career, though, I was backpacking the world in a hardcore way, working on the move in any job I could get and then by the end of 2012, I had earned my first buck online and I didn’t look back.

7) When did you start your online career?

As with the previous question, it began in 2007 as a hobby travel blog, about 700 articles later and still on a real life adventure, I was earning money by late 2012. By 2013, it was now a business.

8) What is the biggest mistake you made when you started?

I wouldn’t say anything is a huge mistake as this is the way my life went, but for the first 4-5 years I didn’t try to make money from the blog, I was happy as a hobby blogger. I guess it was probably when I saw other fake bloggers and those who don’t really travel making cash from it, that I had to change it into a business to grab some money for a real life backpacker.

9) Looking back, what do you wish you knew when you started?

How to make money online earlier. But again, no regrets as maybe then I wouldn’t have worked in broccoli farms, in schools or for Internations or the cool Irish Pub in Hong Kong.

10) What did your friends/family thought of you being a digital nomad?

I’m not sure they like it. Mum wants me to settle down, my friends get more distant year on year and my life spirals into the mundane.

11) Where are you right now?

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

12) How often are you on the road?

Full-time, all the time. Anyone that’s not and tries to sell themselves as a “full time traveller” is a fraud and a fake. They are literally only about 10 – 20 real life permanent nomads who run travel blogs. Fakes, beware!

13) What is a lesson you’ve learned from being on the road?

I’ve learnt loads of lesson. Probably the most important one being that it is cheaper to travel than it is to stay in the same place. I have no bills, no major outgoings, no cars, permanent fixtures, no deposits, no rent payments. It’s cheaper to travel!

14) What is your favorite place in the world?

Either my hometown of Bangor or the capital city of Belfast, Northern Ireland. That is always my favourite place.

15) What is the most important thing when it’s time to choose where to go next?

Follow your passion and heart. That’s all that matters. Weather, money and time of the year certainly are NOT important at all.

16) Are you a carry-on person or a checked luggage person?

Both and anyone that say otherwise is a liar! Although I have lost my luggage so many times, I do wish I could take 20 kg as carry on!

17) What do you always have on you that you couldn’t live without?

A Northern Ireland football shirt.

18) What kind of lifestyle are you living with the money you make?

A basic, cheap backpacking lifestyle with the odd moment of glamour of a sponsored stay in a resort or a four star. In short, I’m a cheapskate, tight assed, budget backpacker. If you meet a cheaper traveller than me, they probably don’t have a travel blog.

19) How much time do you spend on your business versus how much time you spend exploring the place where you are?

Business and travel are intertwined so it’s 24/7. I work every day, I travel every day. “I’m gonna take that tiger outside for a ride…what a life.” – Noel Gallagher

20) How do you make a new place home?

Meet local people and live cheaply. Kyrgyzstan has been a base for a few months, but I’m all over the place these days – Afghanistan, India, Karakalpakstan, Chernobyl, Austria!

21) What are the essential skills to have as a digital nomad?

There are no skills. Either you have the passion to be a digital nomad, or you don’t.

22) What is the best quality a digital nomad can have?

Hard working. Not fussy, Footloose and fancy free. Stubborn.

23) What is the best advice you could give to someone wanting to become a digital nomad?

Follow your passion.

24) What is the most important thing to keep track of?

Stay in touch with family and friends. I’ve drifted from family and friends too many times.

25) Follow your passion or follow the market?

Passion always. Markets are full of dead goats.

26) Money isn’t always consistent. What is the best way to deal with that?

Carry US Dollars, bargain for everything and move countries often to keep your bank balance up. If you’re having a bad time, head to a cheap place to make the bucks back!

27) What is the mistake everybody makes that you wish you could stop them from doing?

Being fake. I hate fakes! Be a real life person. Make your website so transparent that everyone can see what you do.

28) What do you have to say to people too scared to leave their day job?

Stay in your job. If you have fears of leaving it, stay in it. It’s not for you. I travel without fear. “There goes the fear, there it goes. You turn around and life’s passed you by!” – The Doves

29) What are the awesome benefits of being a digital nomad?

Freedom of movement.

30) What is the downside that nobody sees?

Sh*t WiFi! When your computer and internet crashes and you lose days, weeks, months of hard work!