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Successful people don’t stumble across their success, happiness doesn’t just fall in their lap it’s a constant journey. The best way to ensure progress on that journey is to take stock of how far you’ve come, the areas that still require a little, or a lot, of work and of course to start making plans for what’s up next.

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With that in mind I wanted to have a look at my 2015, and I’d encourage you guys to do the same. It’s been a crazy year, full of ups and down so I thought it’d be easier for me to break it down to three sections – travel, business/finance, personal life. Let’s have a look:

TRAVEL:

2015 was the year I made the most progress towards my goal of officially visiting every country in the world, I visited more countries in 2015 than any other year of my life,  48 in total, I’ve listed them at the bottom of this article in case you’re curious. January and February were spent visiting every country in the Caribbean, which had meant spending Christmas and New Years completely on my way just before 2015 kicked off, not a good choice. Still, Cuba, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago were the three highlights of that trip, unbelievable countries with cultures and beauty I’d encourage all you crazy people to try and explore.

 

I then spent around one hundred days in Thailand,  with a few trips dotted inbetween, one of which was to Tibet, one of the best trips of my life. I flew my mum over for that one which was pretty epic, and the landscapes of Tibet are some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. Taking the ‘highest’ train in the world for 48 hours through the Himalayas to reach Lhasa, the Capital of Tibet, was an awesome experience too. It sounds punishing, it’s not. Do it if you get the chance.
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Using Thailand as a base I planned my trip to West Africa, this would be my toughest trip yet, no doubt. I had previously visited around 20 countries in Africa coming overland from Cape Town to Cairo up the east coast of the Continent, that was unreal. It was also a much easier route than my Cape Town to Casablanca trip I was planning for this year. This years trip was full of war-torn countries and some of the most difficult visas in the world. In the end I spent more than $3, 000 USD on visas and bribes throughout my Africa trip. Ouch. I also had to mop up a few countries in east Africa I had missed first time round due to lack of funds, so I was back to some of the more difficult countries. Some of the scariest countries I visited this year were essentially in full civil war – Burundi, South Sudan, Central Africa Republic, the DR of Congo, Chad. Not to mention the whole Ebola situation I ran through in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Amazing experiences, but I was pretty scared at times if I’m being honest, and some of the things that happened feel like I’m living a Hollywood movie.  Seeing a guy getting shot twice in Angola, dead bodies for car crashes in Burkina Faso, there were some shocking incidents. Getting arrested twice trying to illegally cross into Liberia was an interesting day too.

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The trip was unreal. The world’s largest lava lake in the Congo, the Avenue of the Baobabs in Madagascar, the deserts of Namibia, overlanding all the way from Ivory Coast to Morocco through fifteen countries solely on local public transport, and of course hitch-hiking a ride on the longest train in the world, transporting iron ore across the Sahara in Mauritania. Hopping on top of the Iron Ore and sleeping under the stars was something I’ll never forget.

There were times I didn’t think I could do it, most of my year was solo travel and I was feeling burned out. Thinking about flying back to my apartment in Bangkok, Thailand or ‘home’ to Ireland for a break but I persevered and now I only have fifteen countries left until I complete my dream. 181/196 countries done. Nearly there.

Now next year is my last fifteen, so i’m off to London next week to try to get visas for some tricky countries – Afghanistan. Yemen, Libya, Eritrea, Turkmensistan. Depending on my success with those, January and February will be spent dotting around as many of those as possible. Then a month in Thailand to do some biz stuff and try to get healthy, then off to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to visit my six remaining countries from there. Back to Thailand to get my last few visas and then plan my last country. Wow.

BUSINESS/FINANCE:

2015 seemed to make me less concerned about monthly revenues and more both logistically managing my tricky travels, and trying to launch a new business in Hong Kong. My main business, step4wardmedia.com,  which has allowed me, a tech idiot, to make more than $1m online from my laptop during my travels, and go viral in the media, took a hit when google changed their search algorithm. A couple of relatively leaner months made me appreciate the crazy money I had been making the last few years, thankfully biz has picked up again but I think the days of the casual $60, 000 per month with just a few hours on my laptop each week could be gone from this particular line of biz. I’m grateful for what I’ve managed to achieve with it, and the team and I will continue on throughout next year with it. The thought of huge publications like Forbes, Business Insider, Yahoo etc writing about me feels surreal.

More exciting though is our Hong Kong startup of which I’m co-founder. Find a Tutor is now a year late due to a host of design problems aaaagh. Steep learning curve but the site is finally finished and we hope to launch next month. I spent a lot of skype time throughout 2015 chatting Carl, one of my closest friends and who is based in Bangkok with me, from random countries across Africa. Note to self: Launching start-ups from West Africa is not a good idea. Anyway, we’re nearly there and we’re hoping it’s gonna really help people across Asia when we role it out multi-nationally. Let’s see.

Find A Tutor
Find A Tutor homepage

For onestep4ward.com, I’m hoping it’s gonna be a huge year. I’m getting a WHOLE new redesign, I’m going back to my routes and will start blogging again almost daily with awesome, helpful and gorgeous content. I will be sharing more about myself and my journey too so you too can do it should you be crazy enough to want to. Finally, I’m going to design a three or four part course/guide that’ll be accessible online for a fee which will show literally almost every step I took from being a broke Irish guy bumming around to where I am now, a slightly-less broke Irish guy still bumming around but with no plans, or need, to get a real job or join the real world. Module one will be about teaching English in Asia, two will be about how to start and make a blog successful, and third how to work online, and start a simple online digitial media/blogging business. It’s so possible. I hope you guys can make the leap.

I made my first major move into public speaking, being flown into Algeria, I country I hold dear to my heart, to keynote a conference on digital media there. It was an amazing event, and one I plan to repeat in the new year. Public speaking and perhaps some more intimate get-to-togethers seem like a great opportunity, you can directly help people. Literally show them the direction to take their blog, lifestyle, travels and it can be quite lucrative too, an absolute win-win. I’ll look forward to more opportunities in the coming year.

Other financial stuff – I lost $30, 000 in the stock market when the Russian currency tanked, the oil price continued to drop and China wobbled. I’m in the riskiest fund available so that’s the danger of choosing a fund like that. Ouch. On a positive note, I found out the apartment I bought in Bangkok has nearly doubled in value since I bought it. Also, I finally sorted out a mortgage for an investment property in London, I’m finalising that this week, that’s been an absolute nightmare with paperwork. NOTE TO SELF AGAIN: Buying a property in London from West Africa is not a good plan, don’t try again. Anyway, that has increased 21% since my purchase price which has just confirmed to me that property is the way to go for investments. I wanna get more involved, maybe another place in 2016 but it’s such hardwork to finalise it, let’s wait and see.

PERSONAL LIFE:

Like everyone else, both up and down. My story went all across the world media, in over 100 countries, I’ve been inundated with emails from people from every corner of the globe who have felt inspired to try to chase their dreams thanks to my journey and that gives me a huge sense of both pride and humility. A normal dude doing his thing can help another normal person to do theirs, it’s beautiful.

My fitness is horrific, West Africa was hard and I ended up eating and drinking too much all year with next to no exercise. I’m in the worst shape of my life and I hate it. Knowing my travel plans in quarter one and two next year makes me worried i won’t be able to fix it. But I’m going to try my best. Getting old isn’t just about the year on your passport, adding a kilo a year is a slippery slope. I’m aware of that. Must do better, I miss my six pack. I miss feeling flexible and more confident. It’s up to me to bring it back.

My love life has been turbulent, but then again it kinda always has been. My lifestyle has been tough on Jaa, the girl I had been with for four years. We finally cracked under the pressure a couple of months ago, so that’s been a struggle. My lifestyle has been amazing,  but it hasn’t been without sacrifices, that’s very apparent to me. But it’s my choice, so I have to take responsiblity.

Mauritania
Mauritania

Friends and family it’s been amazing. I traveled with one of my best buddies in Domincan Republic and Cuba, another one in Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Ghana, another one all across West Africa, and my dear mum has joined me across five countries this year too. I’ve been in Ireland and London twice too so I’ve managed to see a lot of people I hold dear to me, no one more so than my Sis, her hubby and my niece and nephew who I feel like I have great relationships with. I love this side of my life.

IN CONCLUSION:

2015 has been very good, I was fortunate enough to achieve a lot of what I set out to achieve, allbeit not without some significant losses, both personal and financial. 2016, I’m hoping, could be the best year of  my life. Potential TV shows, new business, finishing my life goal of ‘every country in the world’, but only I can make it happen. It’s up to me, no rationalising excuses. We have to own the direction of our lives, take stock of where we are, and more importantly of where we’re going. And move forward relentlessly. Eyes on the prize. Happy travels x

 

 

COUNTRIES VISITED THIS YEAR:

  1. Saint Lucia
  2. Barbados
  3. Dominica
  4. Antigua and Barbuda
  5. St Kitts and Nevis
  6. Dominican Republic
  7. Haiti
  8. Cuba
  9. Bahamas
  10. Jamaica
  11. Bahrain
  12. Kuwaits
  13. Algeria
  14. Tunisia
  15. South Sudan
  16. Democratic Republic of Congo
  17. Burundi
  18. Comoros
  19. Madagascar
  20. Seychelles
  21. Mauritius
  22. Lesotho
  23. Namibia
  24. Angola
  25. Republic of Congo
  26. Gabon
  27. Sao Tome and Principe
  28. Equatorial Guinea
  29. Cameroon
  30. Central African Republic
  31. Chad
  32. Nigeria
  33. Benin
  34. Togo
  35. Ghana
  36. Ivory Coast
  37. Burkina Faso
  38. Niger
  39. Mali
  40. Guinea – VIA
  41. Liberia
  42. Sierra Leone VIA
  43. Guinea-Bissau
  44. Senegal
  45. Gambia
  46. Mauritania
  47. Morocco
  48. Cape Verde

 

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33 thoughts on “A 2015 Round-Up and Plans for 2016

  1. I have just found your blog and now realised I have a lot of reading to do. I admire your determination, but worry about you 2016 choices, good luck! I will follow be following along and wishing you well

  2. Wow! I am loving your insta, and website! I wish I could travel a long with you, I am a international studies maj, and have a passion for Mid East/African nations! Have you been to Brunei? Or Syria? Which country of all you’ve been to yet felt most dangerous for yourself and also which felt most oppressive?

  3. Wow! I am loving your insta, and website! I wish I could travel a long with you, I am a international studies maj, and have a passion for Mid East/African nations!

  4. Great article Johnny! Just started following your journey last May and got so inspired by everything you’re doing. I super love the skydiving video and it made me checked all your albums and they are all amazing! 😀 Sorry to hear about your love life, being in a LDR is really hard. I hope and pray you and Jaa would get back together since you’ll be done this year. Remember love is sweeter the second time around…  I also love your travels with your awesome mum. So much love there…I just lost my mum last month so seeing your adventure with your mum really helps a lot. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many. Good luck and sending you lots of positive vibes this year and onWards! Come and visit Manila again when you’re done… 🙂

  5. I thought I had a good year and I have visited “only” 10 countries in 2015. What you do is incredible – I wish I had a third of your stamina. I still get caught up with small things such as getting a new logo and redesigning my site, and you have waaaaay bigger plans. Perhaps, the key to getting big is thinking big to begin with?

  6. I WAS EXPECTING SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR STAY IN UGANDA OR EAST AFRICA. WANTED TO FIND OUT WHAT YOU THINK UGANDA BEING THE PEARL OF AFRICA.

  7. What an Amazing year! I’ve been stalking ahem…Following your travels regularly and the African parts were definitely incredible if not just a wee bit terrifying. Love your travels with your mum. I try to travel with mine as much as possible. She claims she’s getting to old but I just tell her what you and your mum get up to and hope it will make her smarten up ;). Cheers to a travel filled 2016!

  8. It’s been amazing following your journeys the past three years — I still remember following your blog just before you visited your 100th country! I think I started right around the time you visited New Zealand and PNG and wondered to myself “how on Earth can this guy travel so much?”

    Wishing you all the best for the final 15 countries! Hopefully, they go off without a hitch for you. Looking forward to seeing what opportunities are in store for you once you finish this lifetime dream

  9. Pretty cool to see how far you’ve made it Johnny. My husband & I traveled down the Nile with you & your buddies on your first trip to Africa. Keep living the dream, we’ve enjoyed following & reading about it. Our travels are more regional now (thanks to a rambunctious 2 yr old), but we continue to live purposefully & with intention.

  10. As a keen traveler and a person who is truly happy only when online booking holidays and flights, its been a great pleasure to follow your adventures past year, be inspired and top up my bucket list. I’m looking forward to follow your yourney in coming months. Good luck Johnny, be well and may all your dreams come thru in 2016.

  11. Exciting times ahead for 2016 I’m sure! I’ve enjoyed reading about your many adventures when I’ve been looking out at a grey day in Dublin!

  12. As a person that loves to travel and see the world it has been very interesting to follow your journey and trips. Some of the countries I really think I have to visit. Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to follow you on your trips this year 2016 🙂

  13. 48 countries … wow … that’s insane and incredible all at the same time.
    Sounds like 2015 was a good year even if there were some bumps in the road – that’s to be expected, right?
    I hope 2016 will be great for you.

  14. Wow is right. I fact, we need to say it again. Wow.

    Yes, you have been an inspiration to many, including us…who have been following you since near the beginning. The one country from this year that stands out is Algeria. We want to go there to show the rest of the world that people everywhere are kind, even cultures that many don’t understand.

  15. Great article. It’s always good to remember that noting happened without work.
    Have you eared about the Hutt River principality? It’s a small territory on australian continent. It’s not recognised as a country by all the rest of the world (france inclueded) but it does exists. Maybe you can add it to your list.
    http://www.principality-hutt-river.com/

    I wish you a very happy new year and to realise your big dream safely!

  16. amazing – your African travels have been so interesting to follow – as it is not somewhere i have considered traveling before and have not seen anyone really blogging about such countries.
    Sad to hear about Jaa – have loved loved loved seeing your mum traveling with you. It has made me plan two more trips with my mum for 2016 (and she can’t wait just as much i)
    best of luck in the new year, i hope everything you have planned works out magnificently

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