Welcome to another edition of the “Work and Travel Abroad“ Series! In this series, we feature stories of travelers who have managed to find ways to earn money while traveling by working jobs that don’t resemble a typical 9-5 routine. They share their experiences, give their advice, hopefully inspiring many of you to believe that paying your bills and saving for the future while traveling the world IS POSSIBLE!
Today, we are excited to share our Q&A with Jonny Blair from Don’t Stop Living who shares his experience working on a farm in Australia
Q: Who is the Jonny Blair? Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I am a proud Northern Irishman from the seaside town of Bangor. I grew up there in the 1980s and 1990s and from my first trip without my parents in 1991, I developed a keen interest
in visiting other countries and cultures around the world. I’m a massive football fan and a lot of my early travels revolved around touring Europe watching Northern Ireland. When I lived in Bournemouth in 2003, I started to meet people from all over the world and since then I have been travelling as much as I could. In those years since, I worked in Hong Kong and Australia to help fund my travels, and I worked online through my blogs to earn more money and gain more worldly experiences to cover on my blog.
Q: What was your life like before you started traveling?
A: Life was fairly stale and mundane to be honest although I had good friends and family at the time. I worked full time in a small butchery counter in Ballyholme in my my home. There I would cut meat, prepare salads and slice cheese, chatting away to locals. Before that I was a call center assistant, a person who sealed envelopes and a barman. I had a few other jobs but with each pay cheque, I always wanted to venture further afield.
Q: What inspired you to start traveling? How long have you been traveling for?
A: I think football inspired me first and foremost. I had the Mexico 86 Panini album and I loved looking up places like South Korea, Uruguay and Algeria, wondering where they are, what their culture is like and if one day I could visit. My first trip without my parents was in 1991 and my first solo trip was 1996, but realistically I have traveled for most of my adult life, certainly I have been a full-time traveler for the last 7 years and for most of the last 13. In that time I have visited 100 national football stadiums, all 7 continents and around 130 countries (whether debated or not).
Q: How do you afford to keep traveling?
A: Working hard. You need to keep working and stay focused on earning cash to keep you going. There is no easier answer than that. In the past, I have done mostly bar, cafe and farm work. But I have also worked in PR, in schools and for myself.
Q: How did you come across an opportunity to work on a farm in Australia? Did you have any formal training/education prior to securing your first job?
A: This came up by total chance – by wanting it. Most of my jobs on the road have just come through my sheer determination to want a job and to go and get it. I was lonely in Tasmania after 3 travel mates left and I went to the job office saying I would do any job they had and would start tomorrow. An hour later they phoned me and asked if I wanted to cut broccoli the next day at 7am and of course I jumped at the chance, I loved it and I never looked back into the sunset.
There was on the job training so that the broccoli we were cutting was good enough for the farmer’s demands. It didn’t take much training to be honest, within a few hours I was loving it and ended up on the job for 5 months!
Q: Have you done similar jobs anywhere else in the world? If yes, where and what kind of jobs?
A: I actually haven’t done any real farming work outside of Australia. Most of the other work was in bars and restaurants. Though I have doing some volunteer work with animals and helping hostels out, and I did help my mate milk his cows for a week when I stayed on his farm in Colombia. But really, I’m mostly a barman who happens to love writing.
Q: How did you find your first job on the farm? What about other farming jobs?
A: I went to the job center in Devonport in Tasmania and they put my name on a list for any farming jobs that were going. One came up that day in broccoli harvesting so I took it and that was it – I worked 7 days a week from there on in.
There were other farming jobs I did on my days off from broccoli and they included planting pyrethrum, weeding out a bean paddock, purifying echinacea and fruit picking. All of those jobs were in Tasmania.
Q: What were some highs and lows of working on a farm?
A: The highs were the money I earned, the people I met, the building up of my muscles and the keeping fit and healthy. The lows were the lack of social life, the 12 hour “sunrise to sunset” shifts and being so muddy after days on the farm only to find there was no hot water sometimes. Overall, the highs much outweighed the lows.
Q: Did the job pay enough to cover your living expenses? Were you able to save anything to continue traveling?
A: The job easily paid enough – I was on $19 AUD an hour and working 12 hours a day and 7 days a week. At the time, after tax I was earning about $1,200 AUD on a good week. So it was the highest paid job I had ever had up to that point in life and I was able to save a lot of money as I was sleeping in my tent or my car a lot. After that job, I could have taken 6 months off work just to travel if I had wanted!
Q: Have you visited any countries outside of Australia where demand for farmers is extremely high?
A: I have visited USA, England and New Zealand and I’d imagine they also have high demands for farmers but I’m not sure really as I wasn’t there to work in farms – for me – it was Australia where I did that and that is what I recommend to others.
Q: Would you recommend a job on a farm to someone who wants to quit their 9-5 routine and explore the world? What advice would you give them?
A: Absolutely 100% yes!!! It will be an amazing experience and change your life. About 3 years before I started the farming work, I was soing the UK PR for Apple computers and earned a lot less money and respect in that job. So the answer is yes – do it. Advice – work hard and travel far!
Q: Where would one start if they too wanted to experience working on a farm?
A: Tasmania was where I did it so I’d recommend that. It’s a quiet farming island with lots of opportunity, great people and some really remote hikes and backpacking trails. I loved it there and shed a tear when I left. Get a working holiday visa for Australia and head out there!
Q: What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2017?
A: I cannot disguise that 2016 was a horrible year for me. Sadly two of my friends let me down in a big way and I got depressed so my aims now are to pick myself up and get on with my travels. Living in Poland is a great chance to do this and I have a long awaited book which has been completed 2 years ago and still hasn’t been printed on paper, so perhaps that will finally see the light of day. Apart from that, being happy and healthy are my main aims now.
ABOUT: Jonny Blair is a travelling Northern Irishman in his thirties with an absolute passion for people, places, travel, history, culture, beer and football. Sometimes all at the same time…Follow his adventures on his blog Don’t Stop Living, his Facebook page, Instagram, or Twitter.
Huge thanks to Jonny for taking the time to answer our questions and share their experience with us! If you have any further questions for Jonny, leave a comment below!
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Does working on a farm sound like something you might want to do to help you travel the world? If not, check out other posts in the “Work and Travel Abroad” Series for more ideas and stories from other travelers.