Hey everyone, I’ve got a bit of a personal one for you here. As many of my followers know, I grew up without much money in a single parent family in a small town in Northern Ireland. Although it doesn’t sound ideal, I had a great childhood and although 2 parents may often be better than 1, if you have the best mum in the world, it’s worth more than 22 parents!  And I was lucky enough to have that. My mum sacrificed literally absolutely everything for my sister and I, she was a firm believer of “There are 2 gifts a parents should give – first, give your children roots, then give them wings”.

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My mum and I on Christmas day in Ireland

She supported me emotionally when I turned my back on a corporate career, long before I made even one penny online, and she’s there for me still when I’m ranting and raving about my latest (mis)adventure. I speak to her almost everyday, and when I have a problem she’s there in the middle of the night Irish time to answer the phone and talk through my issues.

Professionally she’s an education welfare office (read: social worker), she works in care home at the weekends for abused and troubled kids, and she volunteered as her 3rd job for the Samaritans, a free suicide help line in Ireland and the UK. All round, she’s pretty much a legend. Anyways, I digress…

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Mum and me traveling in Sri Lanka

Since business has taken off for me, my mum has joined me around the world and we’ve had the most amazing traveling experiences as mother and son (see pics below!). Last year, at 64 my mum was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was tough for all of us, not least for her. However, now we have plans to travel more than ever before and in my mum’s truest style, she’s embracing her problems and rolling with the punches, so like the maniac she is – she’s SKY DIVING for her 65th birthday for a Parkinson’s charity (note, this is not one of those ‘I get to do something cool for free for ‘charity’, it’s full paid up – all proceeds go to charity).

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Going native in India 😛

So I’d LOVE, LOVE, LOVE you guys to help sponsor her cause at  http://www.justgiving.com/Maura-Ward, even just a couple of euros/pounds/dollars/baht helps so please take a couple of minutes of your time to help inspire my mum even further, and of course to help fight Parkinsons (you can pay with credit card, or paypal – super quick). Thanks and happy travels x


Here’s a word from my amazing mum:

“I want to issue a timely warning to all those who intend to travel ‘sometime in the future, when I have time / I can afford it / I have my career sorted / etc etc’.  Do not procrastinate, do not wait, grab your chance, do it now!

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Trying on some local headgear in Uzbekistan!

I am speaking to you from experience.  Travelling happened a little bit for me way back when, but those were the days when jobs were for life, and most people conformed, and, I have to say, I was no exception, and thus did the European journeys, but little more.

I was lucky because travelling happened again for me later in my life, when my chicks had left their nest and no longer needed me.  And I embraced it – in spades!  I discovered I loved to go to places rather less touristy, I learned to live with fairly primitive conditions, I didn’t flinch at cockroaches, I relished the food and especially the people.  I was having a ball! China, Burma/Myanmar, India, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and more.  And I wanted more.  I made so many plans in my head, my bucket list was growing by the day.

Backpacking in Burma/Myanmar
Backpacking in Burma/Myanmar

Then, in the last couple of years I started to develop a bit of a shake, and as time went on, I found walking a bit demanding because of muscle rigidity on one side, swallowing was sometimes difficult, I couldn’t always think of the word I wanted, and various other apparently minor issues. The upshot was, I went to my doctor, was referred to a neurologist, and after a number of tests, have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a chronic, degenerative, brain disease.

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Taking the train along the old silk road in Tajikistan

Initially I coped wonderfully – this wouldn’t change anything in my life, I would carry on doing exactly the same things the same way.

Then reality bit!  Life is not quite the same, things would not be the same, my condition will worsen.  But not yet!

Maura Ward
Being a tourist in the Czech Republic

Since my diagnosis I have travelled the Silk Route in Central Asia ( which I would recommend to everyone) in exactly the same way I would always have done – night trains, local taxis, no high end accommodation., and it was absolutely awesome! Later this year I am definitely going to South America, hopefully to at least one of Bolivia, Colombia, Surinam, and Patagonia.

And who knows after that.  There are some must dos on my bucket list – pandas in China, gorillas in the wild, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Burkina Faso, Victoria Falls, the golden temple, the pink city, and lots of other must be considered.

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Getting involved in Mumbai, India!

The most immediate challenge, though, is a skydive planned for 27 April.  This is to challenge myself for my 65th birthday (it was an abseil for my 60th), and because of my recent diagnosis, I have decided to try to raise some money from sponsorship for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. ”

See http://www.justgiving.com/Maura-Ward

-30 degrees at the Ice Festival in Harbin, China
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Being coerced into dressing like an idiot by my son in South Korea

Remember, never travel without travel insurance! And never overpay for travel insurance!

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Also, if you want to start a blog...I CAN HELP YOU!

Also, if you want to start a blog, and start to change your life, I'd love to help you! Email me on johnny@onestep4ward.com. In the meantime, check out my super easy blog post on how to start a travel blog in under 30 minutes, here! And if you just want to get cracking, use BlueHost at a discount, through me.

Also, (if you're like me, and awful with tech-stuff) email me and my team can get a blog up and running for you, designed and everything, for $699 - email johnny@onestep4ward.com to get started.

Do you work remotely? Are you a digital nomad/blogger etc? You need to be insured too.

I use SafetyWing for my digital nomad insurance. It covers me while I live overseas. It's just $10 a week, and it's amazing! No upfront fees, you just pay week by week, and you can sign up just for a week if you want, then switch it off and on whenever. You can read my review here, and you can sign-up here!


So if you’re ready to…..

1) Change your life
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