Don’t Stop Living is 10 Years Old Today: My Thoughts On Sharing a Third of My Life With The World

“As the day was dawning, my plane flew away. With all the things caught in my mind” – Noel Gallagher.

As the day was dawning my plane flew away

Don’t Stop Living is officially 10 years old today. Timewise, that’s almost 30% of my life. It’s more than 50% of my adult life. I’ve shared my life with the world, my ups and my downs. It is just my personal selfish, travel lifestyle blog telling my story. I shared my life with you, with the world, with everyone. I travelled far and wide, I worked almost every day of the journey. I wrote something every single day (whether on paper, in notes, on my phone, laptop, online). I don’t hide things, I am open, I am honest, I am brash and I am blunt. I hate sneaky people who hide things in life. When those two types of people meet each other, one loses, and it was always me.

Happy times in the backpacking life, everyday an adventure

I saw the world you know, 7 continents of it, 850 cities or towns of it, over 100 football stadiums of it, some in countries I’d never heard of. Another day, another dream, another passport stamp. I kept moving, exploring, changing jobs, hopping beds.

Got my passport stamped in French Guyana at St Georges de Loyapock – Border Police Building.

I’m writing this because the blog is 10 today and felt I had to write something. It’s also weirdly the day I celebrate my 500th live football match – I watched Legia Warszawa beat Zagłębie Lubin 2-1. But I don’t think anyone was really interested in me writing a reflective post or giving any more travel tips, I did ask for some feedback on my Facebook posts, but people aren’t really interested in that. Those times have been and gone, life has changed for me, this travel blog just isn’t that important any more, it’s not a priority in my life anymore, it once was.

Dont Stop Living header

The latest Don’t Stop Living header

And yes, the return of the blog for August 2017, has probably justified my reason to stop it last year, depression or not, I’m glad I knocked it on the head and forgot about it. But this post will look at the good and bad. It’s a sad life when you backpack the world through passion and not for some commercial cow excrement yet all you get in return is to meet nasty and cruel people hell bent on destroying what was once a nice journey, for fun and to help others. I was travelling the world being nice to others. I was so welcoming, so friendly, so nice to everyone. Most of the time, life was amazing…and the niceness came back to me.

jonny blair in Hanoi relaxing with beer

Backpacking in Vietnam

Backpacking in Los Angeles, USA

On a boat across to Kampong Ayer, Brunei’s quirky answer to Venice.

With the staff in Browar, Starogard Gdański, Poland

Watching Northern Ireland at Arena Nationala, Bucharest, Romania

All that was bliss, my archives on here tell the story and you can simply go through my back catalogue of posts and see the fun I had. It was all genuine and real, epitomised by the wonderful evening in Tunis in March 2015, where on my 35th birthday, I also celebrated visiting my 100th country. But it all went wrong, in 2016, it was all ruined by people who were nasty to me, possibly even without their intent to cause me to feel depressed. It was so sad the way things panned out in 2016. I started that year on a high, backpacking Kyrgyzstan, almost settling in Bishkek, visiting Afghanistan and making my first ever trip to India. But later in 2016, things went really sour. This is the biggest thing I have learnt in life from my travels:

The nice people lose in life and become the saddest. the nasty people win and become the happiest – this is probably the biggest thing I have learnt on my journey. The honest people end up the saddest. The liars end up happier.

Backpacking in Northern Ireland: Top 20 Sights in Bangor

Backpacking in Northern Ireland: Top 20 Sights in Bangor (my hometown)

So be careful who you meet. Be careful who you trust. Be very careful. Now some facts about the blog and the journey. I do apologise if you have read or heard this story before, but as today is the ten year (10 year – ridiculous) anniversary of this travel blog, here is the quick story of how, why, where and when the travel blog started.

Why did you start Don’t Stop Living?
I met two other travel bloggers in Toronto in July 2007 and they both had travel blogs. Mike and Lee. I already had a daily diary notebook in my backpack, so it made obvious sense for me to transfer those notes from paper to the internet. I decided to share my story with the world. At the start it was just friends and family reading, I rarely even posted my blogs on Facebook in the early days.

In Toronto, Canada in 2007 with my written notebook

And that was it, I now had a travel blog and loved it. The irony is, of course, that neither Mike or Lee continued their travel blogs!:

Sadly Mike’s Blog – The Long Way Home is no longer there

Lee Price – one life and one world

travel blog in canada toronto irish

Having a beer with fellow travel blogger Mike – the guy bottom left who inspired me to start my blog back in 2007 in Toronto, Canada.

Watching the Toronto Blue Jays with Lee Price in 2007, another travel blogger who inspired me

When did you start Don’t Stop Living?
I typed the first post in July 2007 and wrote posts during July and August 2007. But I didn’t know how to put them on the blog, create a blog or make it live, so officially the day the site was first available to the world was 27th August 2007. Here are the blogs first five posts:

Welcome to Don’t Stop Living
Stepping Stones to Canada: Toronto
New York: Empire State Halo
What the Hell Am I Doing Drinking in LA at 27?
Auckland: Dust from a Distant Sun

As you can tell, I was just briefly writing my account of what I did in each place. One by one, I tried to cover every place I had been. The blog grew and grew and changed its “look” many times. Today, the blog has a new look again.

My travel blog in 2011

My travel blog in 2013

Where did you start Don’t Stop Living?
I was in Toronto in July 2007, and typed my first “blog post” up there at the Planet Traveler Hostel. At the start, I simply typed the posts as unsent emails and then emailed them to myself. That was until I worked out how to start a blog and post them.

This was the plan for the blog

How did you start Don’t Stop Living?
I had no idea how to work computers, or blogs. Even at University in Bournemouth, I handed in all my assignments hand written with paper and pen, unless I was told they must be strictly written on a computer and printed on a printer.

I first set up a website on Blogger.com (free)
I then transferred to WordPress.com (free)
I then went self hosted in 2012 (paid)

Why Travel Bloggers Need to Learn About SEO

Travel Blogging in Iran, in 2013

Why did you call it “Don’t Stop Living”?
It’s my motto in life – everyday  should be an adventure and a day to cherish. I stole the title from grafitti on a High School wall in Toronto. As I passed the building, in bold red writing, it said “Don’t Stop Living”. I jotted it down and lived by it ever since.

#dontstopliving
#travelblog
#tourist
#dsl

Contrasts Between 27th August 2007 and 27th August 2017:

On 27th August 2007, I had no home. I was not renting a flat, I was a long term traveller and nomad. I was happy. Life was good. I had left a job in PR and my next job would be working in a theatre. I would live in Bournemouth next, then Parramatta. I would travel to Riga, Latvia next, and by the end of the year had visited 30 countries.

Jonny Blair working in PJ Gallagher's Irish Pub Parramatta

Working in Parramatta, Australia in 2009.

“We got to install microwave ovens. Custom kitchen deliveries” – Mark Knopfler.

On 27th August 2017, I have a home. I am now renting a flat, I was a long term traveller and nomad. I am less happy, life has been sad. I still work hard and have multiple incomes including this blog, many travel writing projects, my new blog and my Business English teaching experience. I have now visited over 850 towns and cities, over 150 countries and by the age of 40 I am aiming to have visited 200 countries.

27th August 2008 – I worked on the England to Isle of Wight ferries, Lymington to Yarmouth.
27th August 2009 – I worked on the England to France ferries, Poole to Cherbourg.
27th August 2010 – I worked in PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub, Parramatta, Australia.
27th August 2011 – I worked in Delaney’s Irish Pub, Hong Kong.
27th August 2012 – I backpacked in Vietnam, hiking in Sapa.
27th August 2013 – I worked on my travel blog in Ma Wan, Hong Kong just before heading to China and North Korea.
27th August 2014 – I backpacked in El Salvador, visiting Santa Ana.
27th August 2015 – I backpacked in Bangladesh, visiting Chittagong.
27th August 2016 – I lived and worked in Gdansk, Poland and featured in a Kociewian newspaper that week.
27th August 2017 – I live and work in Warszawa, Poland.

So I guess really this post is just for the sake of it, as it’s 10 years old today I felt I should write something. Whether Don’t Stop Living continues or not, and is ever the same as it was at its peak (in say 2013-2014) is now not really the issue.

I have redesigned the website slightly and will be tweaking it again soon. After that, if my health improves, I will travel again and yes, I will write on here if those travels are outside of Poland.

In the meantime, I am living in Poland, getting on with my new life and hoping my friends that lied can one day apologise to me for causing such pain and depression. As a result, I now have a very popular and happy travel blog based in Poland and I put more passion and effort into that now, than I do with DSL. So if you want to follow me closer, try:

Northern Irishman in Poland

Best wishes and some photos for you, from my last 24 hours in Poland.

Jonny

Drinks while watching my friend Jack play rock n roll music in Warszawa last night

Watching Legia Warszawa in my 500th football match, on the 10 year birthday of Don’t Stop Living

Watching my friend Jack play rock n roll music in Warszawa last night

Watching Legia Warszawa in my 500th football match, on the 10 year birthday of Don’t Stop Living

 

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Stop Living is 10 Years Old Today: My Thoughts On Sharing a Third of My Life With The World

  • Congrats on your 10th Anniversary of DSL! To consistently write quality blog posts for that amount of time is quite impressive and not an easy task. Thank you for being an inspiration to me in how I view travel now and for inspiring me to start my own blog. Here’s to the next ten years of your journey in life. Really looking forward to following along your quest to visit 200 nations before the age of 40. By the way, do either of the two guys who inspired you to blog know about DSL and the impact they had on your life?
    Ray recently posted…A Head Full of Dreams Tour – The 100th Show in TorontoMy Profile

  • Hi Ray, thanks for the comment. It’s been a long road and not the easiest journey in life, but we will see what happens. The 200 countries by the age of 40 will be a tough one, I know that, especially now I don’t really have much ambition to leave Poland, and really everyday I don’t feel that old, but the truth is I have under 4 years to do it so even if I have to do 10 country bursts, then maybe I can. I guess the good thing is I don’t cheat and use only FIFA or UN lists, any country or disputed region or micronation counts for me, including Abkhazia, Guernsey, Adammia etc. so it might be more doable than people expect. Both Mike and Lee are aware of that, I messaged them a few times down the years but haven’t seen either of them since Toronto. Sadly they stopped their blogs after that trip, both moved back to England and settled there. As long as they are happy. When Lee said “I have a travel blog”, I remember asking him “what’s a travel blog?” I had no idea! Safe travels. Jonny

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