This travel blogger interview features Justine Cross of Wanderer of the World. A traveller who had an unforgettable experience dressed in just her underwear!
What is your name?
Justine Cross but you can call me Wanderer (like my Mum does).
Which country do you come from/call home?
My homeland will always be England, UK (wherever I find myself).
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I would actually be classed as a “frequent holidayer”. Although I work full-time for a software company, I always find time to explore 3 new places abroad each year (whether it’s for weekend city breaks, week-long jaunts or 2 week adventures).
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I work full-time for a software company, which does pay me a pretty good salary. But before I was earning that much money, I was travelling using my savings.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
Easy! That was to Florence in Italy with my family when I was six. Although I don’t remember heaps about the holiday, I have vague memories of seeing Michelangelo’s David statue in Galleria dell’Accademia. Luckily, I returned 18 years after that to explore the city properly but this time solo in my week long escapade of Italy by train.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Yes, I’m afraid so. I decided to take a weekend break to Paris by myself a few years ago and everything was going so well. But there are two very distinct memories that I wish I could forget. One was whilst visiting Sacre Coeur – one of the buskers grabbed my wrist to put a bracelet on me and I was frightened half to death as I was having a strange man grab me in a foreign country (I had no idea who he was)! The other time was after visiting the Eiffel Tower – I had my caricature drawn by a brilliant artist but on my way back to the apartment I was staying in, a group of men stopped me by the river and demanded to see the picture. It turns out they were also caricature artists and were trying to damage my drawing so I would have to pay for another. It turns out that group knew the original artist and so it had been this huge scam! I loved Paris and was so pleased to have finally gone there but these kinds of memories do put a little bit of a tinge on the whole experience.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Absolutely, tons! I’m always making mistakes when I’m travelling but boy, do they make for some funny stories afterwards? Let me tell you about the time we went to Morocco. We were set on having a traditional Hammam massage but had no idea what to expect. I genuinely thought it would just be a massage for an hour like we have here. Nope, it was different in so many ways.
First, we didn’t know you had to wear a bathing suit so we had underwear on under our bathrobes. We quickly found ourselves thrust into a sauna like room with two older French men (who knew what they were doing might I add). Yes, they noticed I was in my bra and pants, doh … but it doesn’t end there. Next, we found ourselves smothered in a mud-like substance (don’t worry, it smelled way nicer than mud) and had to wash ourselves in a shower (in our underwear). Then, we were being thrust into a fresh water salt pool … yep, you guessed it, swimming in our underwear! By this point, we were an hour in feeling very foolish and wondering where our massage was. Luckily that was just around the corner and although it was a lovely massage, women do not wear bras when being massaged (not that I knew that) so I found myself in a few awkward moments with my masseuse, who also could not speak any English. Yes, what was supposed to be a totally relaxing afternoon turned into one of my most hilarious memories. Like, how much could have gone wrong in the one experience? Next time, I will read up on what I’m getting myself into before going!
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Oh dear! This is going to be such a vastly unpopular answer! Would you believe it was Venice, Italy? I’d heard such fantastic things and all of the pictures looked so stunning in the guidebooks, so I’d opted for a day here when romping around Italy. However, I was disappointed and heartbroken at what I found! It was the height of summer and so there were just crowds everywhere meaning everything took so much longer to walk to and it all became so disorientating. Add this to the teeny streets and it was not a place I could witness the magic of. Although I persevered, I didn’t really enjoy the day and was so relieved when I was hopping back on a train to Florence in the evening.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Ahh, this would be my beloved Hawaii. My boyfriend and I finally booked a week’s break on two Hawaiian islands in September last year to join our Los Angeles and San Francisco city breaks. I’d wanted to visit Hawaii for something like 10+ years and couldn’t sleep for days with total excitement. Well, needless to say, when we finally found ourselves looking out over the islands and exploring as much as we could, I was in heaven. In Hawaii, you can taste exquisite and unique foods; laze on white, sandy beaches; swim in tropical waters; hike through volcanic craters; watch active volcanoes erupting red, hot lava; gaze at the Milky Way with the naked eye and speak to super friendly locals. Need I say more?
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Everywhere and everything! But seriously, I want to find myself scuba-diving in a tropical paradise; embarking on a South African safari; marvelling at Chinese wonders; meditating in Bali; gazing at the Northern Lights; exploring Egyptian treasures… I could go on and on…
Can you imagine life without travel?
Absolutely not. Travel has made me the woman I am today. I like to consider myself an explorer and story-teller. Without travel, I would be neither of those things. On my epitaph should read “Here lies a true Wanderer at heart, in life and death.” (I believe in reincarnation after all so I fully expect myself to be wandering the world for eternity).
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Hmm, planning travels? Making travel lists for friends and family? Even if I wouldn’t be able to travel myself, this would still have to be a large part of my life even if it meant living vicariously through others. Either that or I’d be a teacher.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Wanderer of the World – www.wandereroftheworld.co.uk
When did you begin your website Wanderer of the World?
In October 2016 and it has been growing everyday since.
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I first started writing for myself to document my adventures and tales. But after listening to what my readers were telling me about why they read my blog, my mission changed – to inspire others in travel and in life. Even if you have to work full-time or lead a hectic lifestyle, you can still find time to travel the world (albeit a little bit at a time). I make it a goal every year to visit 3 new places abroad and I’ve succeeded in doing that for the past 4 years. If I can do it, then surely it means others can too?
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
I offer brutal honesty when I write about my travels as I want others to learn from my mis-adventures and laugh at the awkward moments I have. But I also truly want to inspire the wanderlust gene in everyone so my posts are always geared towards inspiration both through photography and via the written word.
Do you have any products or services to offer?
I work with companies to write for their sites as well as my own, so my writing skills and experiences are always on offer. I pride myself in being able to adapt my writing style to both the situation and site I’m writing for. Aside from that, I am also considering opening an online shop on my website for travel related products, so watch this space!
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
This was definitely my post: Stargazing & Sunsets From The Top Of Mauna Kea In Hawaii. I offer tips for conquering the Mauna Kea summit via 4×4 and how to avoid altitude sickness from 13,000ft above sea level. All of this is mixed in with photography to inspire others to visit Mauna Kea and the hidden gem I found called the Ahinahina (Silversword) plant. I had a tremendous amount of support for this article, which helped solidify that blog writing was something I could be good at as well as be passionate about.
What has been your favourite article to write either for your blog or another publication?
I genuinely enjoy writing every post that appears on my site but if I had to pick just one favourite post, then it would be my 36 Photos To Inspire Hawaiian Wanderlust. This was my first attempt at a photo essay and certainly won’t be my last. I thoroughly enjoyed looking back on photographs from our Hawaiian adventures and choosing the best ones. I really hope this post helps to convey the true beauty of Hawaii and of course, inspire others to take a trip out there.
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Definitely plane. A plane can take you anywhere in the world. Plus, I love take-off and landing – a little bit of an adrenaline rush everytime!
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Yes. Think about where you want to go. Right, now go make it happen! Not enough money to travel? Seek cheap or free adventures close to home. Not enough time to travel? Time spent on other things can always be swapped for travel. Not enough confidence to travel? Get motivated to go and you won’t look back. If I can do it, anyone can. Trust me.
What has travel taught you?
Be daring. Be cautious. Be adventurous. And if you can be none of those things, then let travel turn you into a storyteller.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
This year should be another year of ticking items from my bucket list and visiting 3 new places abroad. I have a trip booked in March already to visit Iceland, which I am most excited about. I’ve not yet seen the Northern Lights but have wanted to ever since reading the Philip Pullman books when I was younger. We’ve booked a luxury cabin out in the middle of the Golden Circle and I have visions of us chilling out in the hot tub outside, drinking Prosecco whilst the Northern Lights dance overhead. I’ll be sure to let you know if that happens! My other travel goals for 2017 are all here in case you want to take a look.
Can you name one hidden gem you’ve stumbled into that you would like to share?
I have two – is that allowed? The first would be the Ahinahina (Silversword) plant found growing at 9,000 ft near the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie!
The other would also be from my travels to Hawaii – the Keaukaha Beach Park in Hilo. This park reminds me of lots of mini tropical islands and is a perfect spot for sunbathing, snorkelling or swimming!
Name 3 reasons why someone should visit England.
Chocolate-box landscapes. Rich history. And … we have Harry Potter. (Where else can you see the Harry Potter movies brought to life)?
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Virgin Atlantic. I was super impressed with them when flying to San Francisco as even an economy flight meant free food and drink throughout (including ice-cream and chocolate)!
Favourite country? Hawaii. For the landscapes; the adventures; the food and the people.
Favourite city? Vienna, Austria. The stunning architecture, the delicious food, the history – everything about this place makes me think of fairy tales.
Favourite beach? Waikiki Beach. Yes, this may be a little bit cliche. But let me paint the picture for you. The beach was white and my toes glided with ease through the warm sand. The water was like a perfect temperature bath. The sun was beating down on my skin. The love of my life laughed and beamed a dazzling smile at me whilst we played in the water. The sunset glowed with reds, pinks and oranges. Now, you tell me – why should Waikiki Beach not be my favourite? For now, at least, it is.
Favourite food? Italian. Creamy gelato; soft pastas; succulent meats; fresh pizzas – need I say more?
Favourite language? Oh, that would also be Italian. I studied it in college and it quickly became my favourite of all time. The words just seem to roll off the tongue and sound so exotic. Belíssimo!
Please provide the following:-
Website url? www.wandereroftheworld.co.uk
Twitter handle? https://twitter.com/_World_Wanderer
Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/worldwanderer
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/117898643922353806241