For today’s interview, we’re featuring a male traveler for those of you who travel with a guy by your side: Jonny Blair from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle travel blog.
Interview with Long Term Traveler Jonny Blair
Jonny is a travelling Northern Irishman who left his hometown a decade ago to see the world. He works on the move and has had over 50 jobs down the years. His travels have taken him to almost 80 countries across all 7 continents and he shares his stories and tips on his blog.
Q: Do you travel carry on only?
It depends – if I have a short trip then I’ll just take my small backpack. But as I’ve been on the road a long time now, I’m seen with my large backpack most of the time. I need to have clothes for hot and cold climates so the bigger backpack is best.
Carry on luggage is limited for space especially when you have to fit a laptop, travel book and my notebook in there! That said it annoys me when people bring big bags onto carry on luggage these days. There used to be a limit for that – not any more it seems to me…
Q: Do you prefer a suitcase or backpack?
For the last 4 years it’s been a backpack and no particular model I’d recommend. I normally just get the cheapest one and can’t even tell you the name of the brand I currently have! I used to use a suitcase when I started travelling but as I once said “you can’t drag a suitcase through a forest”.
Q: Are there any items that you needed which you didn’t pack initially?
No. If something was that important, you’d have remembered to take it. Most of the other things you can buy while you’re travelling. It’s important to make a list of what you need though and I always do that.
Q: How many pieces of clothing do you travel with?
It’s normally one coat, one pair of tracksuit bottoms, one pair of shoes, one pair of jeans, about 5 football shirts, 5 t-shirts, 2 pairs of shorts, 2 jumpers, 6 pairs of pants and socks. A few other things too depending where I’m heading (i.e. gloves for cold countries, cap for sunny beaches and hikes, poncho for forests)
Q: Do you wear mostly travel specific clothing or do you travel with regular clothing you’d wear at home?
I’ve never really thought about it as I’ve been away from “home” so long!! I’m a casual sort of guy who wears football shirts a lot so I guess I’ve integrated that into my travel lifestyle. Most of the time it’s shorts and a football shirt.
If I’m going somewhere where I don’t want to stand out, I’ll wear the most boring t-shirt I have. Can I put my travel guide book in here too? I’m often seen holding a travel guide book (normally the Lonely Planet) and making notes on it.
Q: What are your three most essential travel gear items?
I’ll have to include my laptop in this as I can’t do without it – working on the move these days means it’s completely essential. Aside from that if it’s gear and clothes we’re talking then I love my football shirts (I support Glentoran, Bournemouth and Northern Ireland) and I take pride in wearing them around the world!
Q: Do you travel with a smart set of clothes?
If I’m going to a wedding or job interview yes I do have those types of clothes. I have a current “base” in Hong Kong where I have these sort of clothes kept and I wear them depending on the occasion.
But to be honest they are not part of my backpacking attire. I’ve never hiked a mountain with a shirt and tie on. I’ve also used them for work down the years, rather than travelling. I’m heading to the Middle East soon though for a wedding but apart from that I’ll be a shirt and shorts backpacker!
Q: Is there a destination where you found you needed additional or specific travel gear?
Yes, Antarctica. I was a bit over cautious to be honest and I took too many warm clothes there, thinking it would be really cold. But the air there is fresh and clear and reminded me of Northern Ireland (where I grew up) so there was no need to wear too much. But the gloves, scarves, thermals and wind proof clothing helped for sure.
You need to be prepared for it, but Antarctica is nowhere near as cold as they say so don’t over pack. It’s the trip of a lifetime though, I have to say!
Q: What are your grooming essentials?
I carry a pair of nail clippers, I don’t like to gather dirt in there. I carry Nivea men’s roll on deodorant. I don’t ever carry shower gel. I only carry it if it comes free in a hostel or hotel.
I love soap – you get so much more value out of a bar of soap than shower gel – plus it can’t get banned as it’s not a liquid! Aside from this, toothbrush and toothpaste and a small shampoo.
Q: How do you cut your hair on the road?
It’s actually a case of my girlfriend telling me when she thinks it’s too long. If she didn’t tell me, I’d never get a haircut!! So she keeps me right.
The most recent countries I’ve had my hair cut are Hong Kong and Australia. I only need to cut it once or twice a year. I just find a cheap local barber and go from long to short again.
Q: Do you travel with a shaving kit or beard trimmer?
No way – they would use up too much room! I’ll let it grow or use disposable razors and soap. Everytime I’ve been in Africa for some reason I end up leaving the continent with a bushy beard!
Q: How many pair of shoes do you travel with and what types?
One pair of trainers and that’s it. I also have flip flops (thongs) for the beach. And as I mentioned before if I’m working then I’ll keep a pair of black work shoes at my “base”.
Q: What was your biggest packing mistake?
I’ve carried sleeping bags and tents at times and never needed to use them. Sometimes you get too tired after a day of backpacking that you’d rather have a hostel than put a tent up. I ditched my last tent when I was in New Zealand a few years back!
Sleeping bags are a good thing to have, but if you feel you can do without one, don’t pack it – you might regret having something too big.
Q: Finally, any travel packing tips for new travelers?
Research your destinations. Make sure you know what the temperature will be the time of your visit. Also check for rainy season.
- Make a list of what you need
- Buy a few extra things that are essential to save money when you’re out there (e.g. raincoats, umbrellas and ponchos are more expensive on the Inca Trail than if you brought them with you)
- Don’t over pack. One pair of shoes is enough. One bikini set/swimming trunks is enough. You only need one pair of jeans.
- It’s also important to note that girls always carry slightly more than guys (this is normal of course) so try not to take advice from the other sex – they won’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t tell my girlfriend what to pack and she doesn’t tell me
- Also make sure you check the socket requirements for each country and have a travel adapter that fits
- Get the relevant injections
- Carry a medical kit
- Carry the medicine that you think you might need
- Always have a camera. These sights you see and memories you have will last forever once you have a physical memory of them.
Safe travels to everyone and thanks to Alex and Travel Fashion Girl for including me, it’s nice to branch out of my niche and be on a ladies site!– Jonny Blair
If you are interested in sharing your packing tips on TFG, you can download the interview questions and submission guidelines here.
For more traveler interviews, please read:
- Interview with World Traveler Louise Matthew
- Interview with Beach Chic Laura Bronner
- Interview With Avant-Garde Footwear Designer Chelsea Jones
- Interview With Minimalist Chic Chalsie
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