The idea of family travel can be little overwhelming—worrying about airports, hotels, where the kiddos can eat, etc. Justin Zackham, screenwriter of THE BUCKET LIST, tackles family travel from a different angle. Their “just do it” approach has led to so many wonderful opportunities for the family as they check off one country at a time, hoping to make it into The Guinness Book of World Records. As their journey continues, they gain new perspectives from the world and grow together as a family.
We chatted with Justin Zackham!
Tell us about your own bucket list and how you and your family are on a mission now to make the Guinness Book of World Records?
When I was writing the script for THE BUCKET LIST, I used things from my own bucket list that’s in the movie like visit the Pyramids and Taj Mahal, and jump out of an airplane. I haven’t done any of those, but I did marry the perfect woman and hope to be a good dad. My wife loves to travel and she has home schooled our kids for a couple of years. She’s always looking for an excuse to travel. We are eventually planning to move to Ireland to open a studio there, but still had things on our list that we hadn’t done. Starting next month, we will do Central and South America.
Traveling an hour away with the family in a car is sometimes impossible to do, what made you want to visit every country in the world with your family?
Some people think we’re inspiring, but those who know us think we’re insane (laughs).
It is probably hard to narrow it down but what has been the best part about this trip so far?
It’s really been the growth in our boys as they see completely different cultures and ways of thinking than they’ve ever known. In Fez, Morocco, they saw a tiny, single-classroom school in the Medina. Finn was particularly affected by the difference in education and immediately asked to sponsor a student —he gives a dollar a week from his allowance which directly pays for a boy his age to go to a private school he would otherwise be unable to attend.
For families who want to travel like you guys, what advice can you give to parents when it comes to family travel?
Just do it. It’s easier than you think because your kids will adapt faster than you will. You’ll grow closer to your children as grow as a parent. Our biggest tip is to leave extra time on travel days – airports are stressful for everyone, but more so for children who don’t walk as fast, use the bathroom more, and can’t see over the heads of crowds.
I think that it’s great that you and your children are seeing the world, especially that your children get to experience this early on. There is so much to learn out there, what have your children gained from this experience from seeing other places of the world? What are you hoping on gaining from this family adventure?
We are going to keep going until we are done or our 10-year-old says, ‘Enough of this already.’ The Guinness Book of World Records is great and we’d love to get it, but we are doing it for our sons to have that connection, to have an appreciation for each other, and a love of travel. That’s what we hope they get out of it. Every country we go to, we will sit down with one extraordinary person and find out why, through their own choices, they have led an extraordinary life. We will be doing a YouTube video and you can also follow our travels on Instagram (@thisbucketlistlife).
Where did you get the idea for writing THE BUCKET LIST and did this family trip derive from that?
I had gone to NYU Film School and then moved to LA. There’s an extended adolescence that happens when you first move out there. I started bartending and wrote a list called ‘Justin’s Things To Do Before You Kick The Bucket.’ I later shortened it to ‘Justin’s Bucket List.’ There were things like ‘get a major motion movie made’ and ‘find the perfect woman’ on the list. I had it up on a board and hadn’t crossed anything off. Then I thought it would be a good idea for a movie and wrote the script. We were going to change the name of the title (“The Bucket List”), but Rob Reiner wanted to keep it because he thought it was such a positive thing.
After THE BUCKET LIST, you went on to make many other notable movies. Would you say that this is part of your own personal bucket list and what has the movie journey been like for you?
Absolutely! I gravitate toward stories of underdogs. I believe you get to choose the life you live. One of my friends said, ‘I hope you have the life you are proud of, and if not, have the strength to change it.’ So many people think we are either crazy or say they wish they could do that. You can do anything you want to; you just have to follow it up.
Justin Zackham is an American and British screenwriter, director and producer. He wrote the hit films The Bucket List, One Chance, and the FX series Lights Out, and The Big Wedding, which he also directed.
For more info on this family, visit @thisbucketlistlife