There is yet another thing canceled by the global pandemic: traveling. As students are settling into summer and hearing about fall plans at universities across the country, it seems it’ll be quite a while before going abroad, or even traveling domestically, can return to normal.
With many aspects of normal life canceled and even more still up in the air, it can feel stifling. The content that we consume can feel numbing at best and disappointing at worst. But, if you’re looking for some inspiring travel content that will motivate you to take advantage of the moment once the pandemic passes, then you should look no further than Damon Dominique and Jo Franco. They’re two travel YouTubers that have been able to separate themselves from a genre that has a tendency to feel more exclusive and pretentious than accessible.
Dominique and Franco have a background similar to most young adults. Back in the 2010s, the two were students at Pace University who met through their college Facebook group. Both had a mutual interest in French and traveling, and since 2012, they have been exploring the world together and documenting their experiences, lessons and insider tips on their channel, DamonAndJo. In the process, Dominique and Franco also created their own company, Shut Up and Go, which has become a family for anyone interested in learning foreign languages, traveling and doing so without breaking the bank. Their Facebook group touts over 22,000 members, and it’s a great resource if you’re looking to connect with other travel enthusiasts and find inspiration, especially when the world is currently shut down.
Dominique and Franco’s travel history is as varied as you’d expect from travel YouTubers. They have lived in New York City, Los Angeles and London, not to mention the countless trips in between, when they often travel for months with their suitcases as their only home base. It’s a nomadic lifestyle that’s easier said than done, but that’s what makes the travel duo’s content so riveting. They give it their all and commit to it.
However, having found their routine repetitive and wanting some change, Dominique and Franco started focusing on their own channels late last year. Nonetheless, their shared channel still holds a wealth of videos that is just as relevant for those looking for inspiration, and Dominique and Franco continue to produce travel content from Paris and Los Angeles, respectively.
Overall, the travel duo’s background as students makes their content extremely relatable to young adults. Until college, many students have probably only ever traveled with their parents, so there can be a lot of fears about traveling alone, whether that be safety concerns, affordability or potential language barriers. Dominique and Franco address all of these concerns and more, and they bring to the table a go-getter attitude that resonates with people who are living independently for the first time in their lives. Traveling the world on a tight budget, the two show us that doing so doesn’t make for a less enjoyable experience. If anything, by staying in hostels, learning different languages and leaving some things to chance, traveling can lead to unforgettable memories.
Nevertheless, as fun as traveling can be, Dominique and Franco also show viewers that it’s an opportunity to learn different perspectives, encourage personal development and apply the foreign languages that you’ve learned in school, but probably haven’t used.
Dominique’s videos in particular feature a lot of educational content that is inspiring for viewers looking to learn more about the world. In his three-part documentary on Israel and Palestine, Dominique takes a solo trip to the Middle East to gain a deeper understanding of the countries and cultures there. In the process, he tries to bring awareness to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an objective way. Dominique shows that taking the initiative to experience things firsthand is more informative than just passively accepting what others say. In other words, traveling builds connections and breaks down preconceived opinions or biases.
Recently, Dominique started a “Red Wine Talks” series with friends that he met through traveling, and they try to tackle important questions that often evoke different responses depending on the culture in which you were raised. Some of the topics include not using your college degree for your career, valuing creativity over profit, maybe not wanting kids and seeing aging as a privilege rather than as something detrimental. It’s exciting to see how worldly exposure helps people appreciate different perspectives. Especially as our country seems to become increasingly polarized, Dominique and Franco show us how traveling can be a solution.
Finally, a large part of the travel duo’s philosophy is their emphasis on learning different languages. As a native English speaker, I often take for granted the fact that it’s easy to be a tourist without putting in much effort. As the most widely spoken language, English is regarded as the de facto method of communication around the world. The majority of English speakers are not native; instead, the majority learn it as a second language. Yet, Dominique and Franco show viewers that the most convenient choice might not be the best one and that investing a little time to learn a foreign language takes you one step further to making connections with people beyond the hotel receptionist.
The benefits of travel are often the experiences themselves, which can be intangible. But, Dominique and Franco’s content gives us a very tangible piece of what every young adult should experience. In a world that seems to be getting more rigid in its opinions, it’s refreshing to see the travel duo broaden their horizons instead, meeting people from all around the world and creating a group of travel enthusiasts in the process. So, if you’re considering traveling at some point, watching the DamonAndJo channel, joining the Shut Up and Go family or maybe even learning a new language are great ways to ensure that you can hit the ground traveling once it’s safe to do so.