Not Just A Pretty Feed: Justin Meneguzzi
From lawyer to travel journalist and photographer. Intrigued? Melbourne-based Justin Meneguzzi shares with us the trip that changed his life and the resulting adventure that came with it.
On one path, then life throws you another. Travel can change your life and for Justin, it boils down to one event. Not many people can say that they quit being a lawyer after a round-the-world trip, to fulfil their love for journalism. Justin then joined Intrepid Travel as a content producer. Fast forward a few years, he's managed Intrepid's global content needs, travelled far and wide - from producing a shoot deep in Canadian winter to spending time in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the jungles of South America to exploring the icy Arctic landscape. He's written for Traveller and Get Lost Magazine, and is now a content marketing consultant. In short - he's the man for all your travel content marketing needs.
He packs his camera on every adventure, and for him, it's about meeting new people in new places, telling their stories, and sharing a different point of view - that in turn expands the world for his readers. Perfect for budding explorers.
We chat to Justin and learn how travel became such a big part of his life.
Tell us your story Justin. How has travel shaped your life and work?
It started with 25 words that changed my life back in 2012. I’d entered into a competition with Lonely Planet and won $10k to travel the world. Before then I’d never travelled independently, and the experience changed my life. I realised I didn't want to go back to a desk job in a career that paid well but made me feel dissatisfied. Of course, big dreams on the road don't just happen when you get home. So I set about writing about travel while working as a lawyer, then eventually left law entirely to pursue writing.
I think my time in law really shaped my worldview too, and today I want to show people you can travel sustainably and ethically and still enjoy incredible experiences.
What country has been the most memorable for you?
While not technically a country, Svalbard (remote island in the Arctic) left the biggest mark on me. The raw Arctic scenery and wildlife was unforgettable, but when you look closer many of the animals there are threatened by climate change, and microplastics are filtering into the environment. People don't know that, because of underwater currents and channels, much of the ocean's waste ends up in the Arctic. I was literally picking up Japanese coke cans on an island alongside walrus skeletons.
The whole experience made me realise just how much impact our actions can have on the environment.
What does ‘being real’ mean to you? In your own travel content, and in the travel content that you look for?
Real travel means not shying away from the ugly side of life on the road. Things go wrong, there are confronting truths, and the world isn’t as polished as you see on social media. I strive to share my experiences as they are, with all the nitty gritty, because these make the best stories.
What role do you think travel plays in bringing together different cultures — both offline and online?
When you sit down and share a meal with a person face to face, all the stereotypes and misconceptions you’ve been exposed to are blown away. What’s left is real connection, one that usually lasts years after you’ve met the person. I’m still friends with a lot of people I’ve met online and we keep in touch on social media.
Who do you love following for their real travel stories?
- Lọlá Ákínmádé Åkerström (@lolaakinmade) — an incredible photographer and storyteller based in Sweden, who shoots for National Geographic among others. More recently she's helped form the Black Travel Alliance and is working towards building better representation of Black voices in travel.
- Bryan Hynes (@bryanhynes_)—this Australian guy is going places with his fun, energetic videos and snaps.
- Sophie Piearcey (@sophiepiearcey) — based in Queenstown and is making me want to go to NZ right now, or at least when the bubble opens.
This is part of Not Just A Pretty Feed, our Q&A series with creators across the world, uncovering their unique and diverse travel stories. We learn how travel has shaped their lives, influenced their work, and what being real in the world of travel content means to them. Continue the journey with food and travel writer, Sofia Levin.