We all have dreams, goals, our ‘one day I’ll do this’, or ‘I’ll visit here’ statements. What we fail to realize is one day isn’t a day of the week, and if we don’t put our aspirations first, then we will be left with regret. Our ‘life’ will be one full of, ‘I almost’ or ‘I was going to’, or, worst of all.. ‘I can’t’. We have to stop listening to that doubting voice in our heads, tell it to shut up. Jo Franco and Damon Dominique are the voices of wisdom you should tune into. These young whippersnappers took the world by its reins and decided to Shut-Up and Go. Their YouTube channel Shut-Up and Go has evolved into a collection of travels to ancient places, wanderlust-inspiring experiences, and overall feel-good vibes. I recently got to interview them, and get some advice on how to live a life full of travel.
1. Most memorable trip/ experience/culture/food?
We both had an amazing time in our recent trip to Thailand; everything from the coconut curry to the islands and rainforests – we lived an extreme adventure. There’s something special about whipping around on a motorbike on the opposite side of the road going through mountains to explore waterfalls that makes you feel extremely alive. Otherwise, we’ve had amazing experiences in Cuba, Tokyo, Egypt, France, and Brazil!
2.How did studying abroad open become a catalyst to more travel? Was the immersive environment easy to adapt to?
Study abroad should be required in schools; it’s absolutely insane how much we changed. Of course, we shed the baby fat, and learned how to speak French properly while abroad in Paris, but it also just gave us the extra push to being independent, and booking tickets whenever we could afford it. Bottom line is that studying abroad takes out the fear that you need your parents to do everything for you, or give you permission to live your life.
3. Did anything mold you into the people person(s) you are today? Or was it already apart of you and travelling heightened it?
We’re both just curious about other people, other life stories, other funny things about having grown up in a different culture. Traveling definitely brought that out in both of us way more. It’s almost like the confidence you build when traveling allows you to carry a conversation with whoever, wherever, whenever.
4. How do you/would you stay safe overseas, any tips when caught in a crisis?
We’ve always loved documenting all aspects of our adventures, even when things get sketchy, or unfortunate. For instance, we were making a video about how to avoid being mugged in Amsterdam, and in the very next train we took to Paris, we were almost mugged by a group of boys. We reacted completely from the gut and didn’t let them take our stuff, and then immediately ran out of the train station, and filmed directly after to explain what had just happened. Things happen when you’re putting yourself out there, we get that. It’s not always safe to travel, but if you go with your intuition, and avoid sketchy situations as much as possible, you should be good!
5. How do you keep all the languages you have learned sharp?
We have different ways, but what we’ve found the easiest is just incorporating the languages in your day to day. Whether that means watching something on Netflix in a different language, or asking our foreign friends to speak to us in German or something. We like to think of language learning as fun, instead of as a boring requirement you’re forced to take in school. Another good way is to download different apps, like Duolingo, or Hello Talk, there are so many free resources out there, if you’re not learning a language, you just don’t feel like making the effort.
6. How do you cope with racism/sexism?
We look at racism and sexism as an opportunity to teach people to not be so ignorant. Of course, we know we can’t change people’s’ minds. But the fact that we look completely opposite, and we’re still best friends, with the same ambitions, work ethic, sense of humor, and outlook on life, it shows people that color, gender, it’s all just a facade. At least when you notice how similar we are, despite being so different on the outside. We encourage other people to get out there and travel, because we truly believe that’s a way to combat racism and sexism.
7.What is your favorite Climate? Which country has the friendliest people?
We both like different climates; Damon’s a London/Paris kind of a guy where rain and clouds have him feeling like a supastar. For me, I’m more of a Spring time lover; LA weather all the way. Thailand, hands down. Smiliest people, even if they couldn’t understand a word of our terrible Thai.
8.Is it hard finding time to make videos while abroad?
At first, it was the hardest part, because we wanted to just take the entire experience in, but we knew we had to document it all. Now, documenting everything has become a part of our experience, so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all. In terms of editing and uploading, that is a major pain, but we end up discovering all the cool coffee shops or coworking spaces abroad because of our need to plug in and upload every few days.
9.How to maintain a healthy lifestyle while abroad?
Super challenging! Not being able to cook your own food makes it really tough, and if we’re looking for vegetarian options, it adds a layer of challenge. Luckily, we’ve managed to learn the trick, which is shopping at grocery stores when times get rough. We also love to make up workout routines with our backpacks, and try to get workouts in whenever there’s downtime. Otherwise, we just let the 2920854390853 steps we take every day while exploring take care of our health.
10.In your opinion, what is the most overrated city you have visited?
In the U.S., we have to go with Portland, Ore.; it’s a cool city, but we felt there was just too much hype for what was actually there. Amsterdam is also becoming a little overrated, because it’s gimmicky with all the touristy marijuana and prostitution culture. Both cities that you should see, but none that we would spend extensive amounts of time in.
11.What are some unforgettable skills/tips you have learned that you would like to share with the youth?
Just the ability to make it through despite going into a situation with no knowledge on what’s about to happen. You start seeing yourself as such an adaptable person, because you survived these crazy experiences, so you’re ready to take on the world, literally.