Travel personality and author Damon Dominique joins us all the way from the North Pole to chat about his earliest travel memories, his entrepreneurial spirit, creating a TV show, and much more.
Can you tell us about your background and your earliest travel memories?
I am originally from the depths of Indiana in the Midwest USA, where the only places people travel are Chicago on a school field trip, or to Myrtle Beach or the western coast of Florida…all of which are also filled with Midwesterners. In some ways, those places are homes away from home in that they feel “comfortable” but I knew I always wanted to see something different. I remember when I was 15, my dad took us on a Spring Break trip to Mexico where after a few days at the resort, he rented us a car to “go on an adventure” and as soon as we left the hotel resort’s limits, he told me to get in the driver’s seat and he taught me how to drive (haha). In many ways, I think I got my sense of adventure, curiosity, and general *f*ck it, let’s do it* attitude from him.
When did you first start creating travel content and what did you love about it?
I was probably 19 (I am 31 now) and YouTube was just starting. No one took it seriously, but I knew deep-down that traditional college was just not for me. At that time, I was studying abroad in Paris and just started filming my adventures that I was telling my friends and family back home in Indiana about. A story is never as vivid for others as it is for the person telling it, so I just started to film everything that year to show people that it was all actually possible. There were $8 flights to Barcelona and there were thousands of people out backpacking around Europe. I’ve always had that “If they can do it, I can do it” mentality, and I hope people feel the same when they watch my videos.
You’ve been to over fifty countries and created hundreds of videos. What is one of your most cherished travel experiences?
Well, I’m currently writing from the lobby of Coal Miners’ Cabins in the North Pole and this is pretty crazy. There’s an Australian guy working, and a German couple next to me. It’s moments like these where I really just think to myself “WTF have I gotten myself into this time? What am I doing here?” and the second I think that, I know I’m on the right track to yet another adventure. Honestly, travel can sometimes feel like this complicated thing, but most of the time, you just take the plane and you get there…and then the adventure and stories find you.
Any travel experiences that stand out for the wrong reasons?
Really the only consistently negative experiences I can think of are always at Immigration/Border Control. Some countries are more hostile than others. I just went through Immigration/Border Control in Oslo, Norway and was taken aback by how genuine the agents were. The woman asked me what I like about living in Paris, and I was just. I ended up giving her tips.
What would be your advice to people to get the most out of their travel experiences?
Cut your itinerary in half and let life happen.
You bring such a refreshing energy to the travel genre, which is evident in your brilliant TV pilot “Around The World in 80 Dates.” Can you tell us about your vision for a TV series?
I wanted to bring something different to travel shows, which mostly tend to revolve around food. That’s fine – food is delicious – but I can learn more from dating a French guy, than I can eating the croque monsieur he made. What has always interested me is the way people think. Why do the French believe the things they believe? Why do they find taboo what they find taboo? Why do they value what they value? And most of all, if they prefer all of this to my culture, then what am I missing? Do they know something I don’t? That’s the premise of the show, and my book by the way. Really, it’s the premise of my life.
I dated a French guy for 6 years and I learned so much about French culture (and myself by comparison). Every guy I’ve ever dated, in fact, has not been American and I think that’s why I’m such a hopeless romantic. For me, because my dates have been with men around the world, romance has therefore taught me so much.
You also have two wildly successful language courses, a popular YouTube channel and top-selling book. What is next for you?
After testing out the traditional route to “entertainment” (working with publishers and production companies), I’m quite excited to get back to my OG entrepreneurial spirit and put my energy behind my YouTube channel again. After my book tour, I met so many people and realized it’s all because of the videos, which all stem from again, just saying f*ck it, booking a trip, and going. The point is to get everyone excited to travel, and right now, that means getting back to my YouTube channel and filming videos for example, here at the North Pole. If a TV show comes around or a second book, then that’ll be the time for that, but for now, I’m excited to be back on YouTube and making even more travel and language-related courses!