The way vlogger, YouTube documentarian, and now author Damon Dominic sees it, he was meant to travel, since the word “Damon” spelled backwards is “Nomad.” The 31-year-old Indiana native will be at Porter Square Books in Cambridge on Jan. 26 to sign copies of You Are a Global Citizen, a travel book and guide magazine he admits he was apprehensive about writing. “I’m more of a visual person. I love film, montages, fonts and colors… so this was definitely a challenge,” said Dominic, who has made over 500 travel videos (with over 22 million views in multiple languages) from over 50 countries. But I am very happy [to have written it] And I look forward to meeting people on the book tour.” The Globetrotter, who lives in Paris, France, made one of his first travel videos in Boston. “I was in college in New York City and didn’t have any money, so I took buses,” he recalls. Chinatown to explore other places, and Boston was one of the first.” “So to come back here on a book tour is very fantasy.” We caught up with Dominic, who said he was looking forward to checking out the vegan food scene while in Boston, to talk all about it. by travelling.
If you could travel anywhere now, and money were no object, where would it be? Oh, wow. That list never ends. I would say North Korea, frankly, this is no joke. I am very fascinated by the places we are “not supposed to go”, or places that are unanimously unpopular, but when I travel I don’t do it specifically to please or displease governments. I’m visiting to show the people who live there. While it would be particularly difficult in North Korea, where every visitor’s itinerary is well planned, I’d like to continue talking to the people there and learning about daily life. My whole philosophy is that I could easily have been somewhere else, so what would Damon Dominic look like if I had grown up in another country? I’m sure there’s someone like me, 31, curious about the world, who lives there now…and I’d like to meet them.
Where was the first place you traveled to after coronavirus restrictions were lifted? Paris, Texas. The main unspoken part of being a YouTuber is not only providing entertainment to the audience but also providing entertainment to yourself. And I’ve found that plain travel guide videos don’t excite me as much anymore. I need the videos I post to be whimsical, quirky, and filled with tons of WTF moments. I was running out of videos to be shot in Paris, France, so I thought why not head to Paris, Texas, next to find out what was going on, why the city was named after Paris, and what the people themselves thought of Paris, France.
Do you prefer to book trips through a travel agent or on your own? I have never used a travel agent. I feel like one of my strongest talents is actually putting together an itinerary. Perhaps in another life you were a travel agent. Nowadays, that’s what I do, in a sense, on my social media via online travel videos and mini-documentaries.
Thoughts on an “unplugged” vacation? Last year, I wanted to experience that, so I booked a solo trip toward Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, to go on what I thought was a yoga retreat. Perhaps I’m being a bit extreme – and I watched a lot of camp videos – but I expected my phone to be confiscated upon arrival and I was expected to attend the three yoga sessions per day. I only realized upon arrival that most people don’t want to be told what to do when they pay for a hotel night, [which is] Understandable, so that was not the case. Of course, I got the break I needed, but I admit I was a little disappointed when I saw everyone around me still hooked up.
Do you take all of your vacation time, or leave some on the table? Because traveling is my job, I can say that it’s hard to take a real vacation when I’m in any kind of “vacation time.” On the bright side, I mostly do what I enjoy, so every day feels like work and vacation.
What was your worst vacation experience? I landed in Tel Aviv with doubts as to why I wanted to visit Israel as a non-Jewish solo traveler. It’s not that I expect any country’s border control to be welcoming and friendly, but after visiting more than 50 countries, I’ve never received such hostile questioning. I also tend to have a “you wouldn’t talk to me that way” kind of attitude at times, which doesn’t work well in border controls [laughs]. That trip to Israel and Palestine turned out to be one of the most amazing trips I’ve taken to date – also wrapped up in a YouTube documentary.
Would you rather spend your vacation to relax, learn or go all out? Adventure. If I travel on vacation, I note, it has to be a frequent destination – otherwise I’m curious and super excited to explore my way through the city, its people, and its culture.
What book are you planning to bring with you to read on your next vacation? I would say the majority of my trips are solo trips, so I always make sure to bring a book to keep me going on a long train journey. Since I’m mostly in an exploratory mindset when traveling, I like to bring along any kind of philosophy book to really push my brain further. I’ve been really on an existential kick lately: Are we, as humans, here for some kind of deeper purpose, or is it just some kindness we say to ourselves to quell the angst, anxiety, and despair that comes with existence? You know, just the things that are easy to think about. To be honest, I’m more interested in life’s bigger, higher questions than the ups and downs that come with everyday life. In any case, maybe he brought something from Simone de Beauvoir or Jean-Paul Sartre, who are both classical existential philosophers.
If you could travel with a celebrity/famous person, who would it be? Definitely a comedian – Amy Schumer, Michaela Cowell, Chelsea Handler, etc… I try not to take life too seriously. I mean, why should we? We hardly have any answers to the greater meaning of life. I’m also into showing off to funny people around the world. To put it cliché, laughter is the best medicine, but I also think that people who watch any kind of video – on TV or YouTube – are more willing to learn about the rest of the world if it’s sandwiched between fun entertainment and a bunch of punch lines so it doesn’t feel like education. Like a school. Besides, I have always loved those who can laugh at the darker sides of life and in the end take the risk of telling such jokes. What is a comedian if not that?
What is the best gift for a traveler? Essential oils – specifically one small bottle of tea tree oil and another of eucalyptus oil. It’s all too easy to feel disgustingly gross when you’re in someone else’s bathroom, but if you drop a few drops of these oils into the shower, it will always feel like a spa.
What’s your go-to snack on a flight or road trip? I get very anxious about snacking on long plane or bus trips, so I look for protein bars, bananas, dried mango slices, and a pre-made peanut butter sandwich.
What’s the coolest holiday souvenir you picked up? At heart, I’m a 75-year-old older woman who lives in a cottage filled with things from all over the world, so I keep that in mind as I search foreign flea markets and thrift stores. One trip to Marrakech—where, of course, the main thing is to visit the souks and shop til you die—I noticed a stand of silver sugar cubes, bought them on the spot, and then carried them around Europe for months afterward. . . But I’ve owned it now for years and use it as a money bowl exclusively for my morning loaf money. Life becomes more fun when you have little habits like that.
What is your favorite travel app/website? I live near Atlas Obscura. I’m all about making travel more exciting with the quirkier and more mysterious things to do. I will continue to do all the necessary tasks in the city, but maybe it’s the rebel in me who always wants to find the things no one else does, and does that instead, making my commute feel more…me?
What has travel taught you? Traveling has taught me to be more curious about the world around me. All we currently know is either because we have experienced it or heard about other people’s experiences… But what else is there that we don’t know yet? After all, it was all our favorite things in the beginning, so I guess that’s the idea that keeps me going. What can I learn about the world…and, as a result, about myself? Maybe my next favorite song is in Romanian, or my next love is from Bangladesh. We never know.
What’s your best travel advice? The best travel advice I can give is to stop planning every last second of every last trip. What many of us seek when we travel is a sense of adventure and unpredictability unlike our highly planned lives at home with work, friends, hobbies, kids, etc., but spontaneity is less likely to happen when you stick to a solid, pre-planned itinerary. Excitement often comes from the unplanned and unpredictable…so leave a good portion of the day to wander around and see where the road takes you. Good luck out there!