Featured Travel Blogger: Justin Mussler
This week, I’m happy to feature Justin Mussler of The Great Family Escape. (don’t you just love that name? I know I do!) Justin and his family are ‘obsessed with travel’ and plan a long term trip around the world, traveling mostly by bike!
Justin, what’s your travel background?
Well, I have never been able to get enough travel through my system. I wasn’t raised as a traveler. My family stayed close to home, but once I went off to school and tasted the open road I just never looked back.
The biggest adventure my wife and I ever went on was a year long trip to China. We quit our jobs shortly after getting married and just went. We saw the whole country. The past few years we have been watching our kids grow and realized we want to show them the world. We travel whenever we can. A few years back we drove across America and back with our1 year old daughter on a whim. Often we just go, but this time we are planning for a big adventure.
What’s different about your blog or site?
Our blog is The Great Family Escape.
Well, we are a family that is going from the working and living in Boston to potentially traveling the world by bicycle for many years to come. We are so obsessed with travel, that we just couldn’t bear the thought of traveling short term.
Instead of waiting to travel, I wanted to track the whole process of our journey from beginning to end. I literally started before we had any idea of what, when, and how we were going to do this. In fact, we still aren’t 100% sure, but we have learned so much and have just set a date for December 1, 2012 as our ‘launch’ date.
I think our readers love the truth, candor, and the ability to find something about themselves in the writing. There is a lot of talk about lifestyle, travel, money, kids, etc…
I think people love seeing the process we are going through. And they love the idea of traveling forever.
What’s the most unexpected thing that has ever happened to you when you traveled and how did you handle it?
In China I left my jacket at a train station. Now, on a backpacker budget this is a big deal. I needed that jacket. I searched high and low, but nothing. Our train was boarding, so I gave up the search and left the jacket behind.
Three hours later our train arrived in Chengdu. We were looking for a taxi when a group of men came running up to me and grabbed me. I had no idea what was happening, but a crowd had gathered and it was pretty chaotic. Then, out of nowhere, a man parted the crowded and handed me my jacket.
Another man had given the man the jacket before we left and said, ‘Give this to the white guy.’ Well, he did. And later I came to find out I had left cash in the pockets of the coat and it was all still there.
It was the most unexpected act of kindness I have ever witnessed. It’s easy to help people with big things, but to see some complete strangers go out of their way over a jacket. That was big!
Complete the sentence: I never travel without … because …
My family. That is easy. That is my goal.
I traveled without my family once and just kept thinking, ‘Man, the kids would love this!’ I hate that feeling of missing out.
When it comes to travel and travel blogging, who is your mentor/hero and why?
I am in awe of any family or individual who travels and doesn’t let fear hold them back. Truthfully, I think most travel blogs are nonsense. Ticky-tack reviews of average destinations. I want to read about the journeys, adventures, life-altering moments. I want the good stuff.
What place is on your travel bucket list? Why?
I have 1 item on my bucket list. To travel forever. I don’t make lists. I couldn’t. My list would never end. And if the destination is so important, what am I missing along the way to that destination. My goal as a traveler is to be mobile, not to check places off my list. Do we travel just to say we did it?
For me travel is much more about experience than the destination. We could stumble upon a village in the Peru on our way to Maccu Picchu and end up staying there for months. But we can only do this if we give ourselves the freedom to do it.
What is your favourite travel planning tool?
Books. Stories. Blogs. I love them all.
But honestly, social media is the best travel tool these days. Get some travel friends on Twitter or Facebook and you are all set. Why search forever when I can ask a friend and get an answer in 2 seconds.
Anything to add?
Yes! Don’t limit yourself and your family when you travel. The world is not nearly as scary as we think.
A lot of people shy away from travel with kids, but they really is no good reason for that. Travel is great for kids and with kids.
The more you explore with your kids, the better they will do in everything.