Damien Dante, Polish, 30, is a founder of Nomad Letters, a published writer, an achieved filmmaker and an explorer with one goal: to create more happiness in the world around us. He’s been travelling for a long time. In the past year he’s been to Colombia, South Africa, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.
Damien recently published a book about how to achieve happiness – ‘The Wake-Up Journey: How To Live a Mind-Blowing Life’ which is available on Amazon.
BC: Please tell us about your travels.
DD: I like the word “exploring” more than “traveling.” Traveling is a passive way of experiencing life, like being a spectator of a movie. I don’t want to be a spectator. Not anymore. The world of my exploration is about being active, aware, and present. Be connected with the world.
BC: Of all the countries you have visited, which one did you find the most fascinating?
DD: Guatemala, Myanmar, Lesotho – these are my three favorites so far…
BC: Where would you want to go again and again?
DD: I will give you couple of my favorite spots: Colombia (you must find Palomino), Lesotho (a small piece of heaven in Africa), south of Myanmar (if you want to feel like you’re back in the 60’s)… and every other place where all I can hear is the blowing of the wind and all I can feel is my bare feet touching the soil.
BC: Name 3 people you look up to or admire from around the world.
DD: I have a couple books that I read every couple years, over and over again – and find new meaning in them each time I read them. I like the fictional pieces of Thomas Mann, Amos Oz and Mario Vargas Llosa. They inspire me to become a better writer.
In general, in everyday life, I value everybody who makes me think and grow, even a small step forward.
BC: How many languages can you order a pizza in?
DD: I’m much better at saying “where is the toilet?” in Chinese. It’s hard. Believe me!
BC: What’s your favorite international food?
DD: My chocolate addiction would insist on saying Magnum ice-cream (only almond though!). Preparing your own guacamole and eating it after a hard, long day in Nicaragua is one of these things you might remember forever. Or a simple piece of bread, honey, and a stolen strawberry.
I highly believe we will remember only a couple small moments from our lives in the end. For me, all those described above are connected with special people who shared the magic of the minute. That’s one of the most important ingredients.
BC: What advice do you have for those who want to travel, but are scared to leave their comfort zone?
DD: I don’t believe motivation can change people long term. I could write a beautiful sentence about how we have to be free and reach for the stars, but the fact is, without your hard work and constant action, it won’t happen.
We’re doing things because we believe they bring us more pleasure than pain. If you say you want to travel, but constantly make excuses not to… It simply means you link pain to that particular change.
Change what you associate pain and pleasure with – and you will master the game of life.
BC: What has been your most memorable experience?
DD: Nothing beats that moment when you wake up, open your eyes, look outside the window and think to yourself – “this is simply impossible.” And then you smile. The truth is, you don’t need to travel to make every day a memorable experience.
The journey doesn’t happen around you. It’s all about transgressing inside, physically, emotionally and intellectually.
BC: What is the most common misconception about full time travel?
DD: That it means happiness. “I would be happy if I could only…” is one of the biggest lies we’re telling ourselves. I know I have been saying that to myself for a long time.
You don’t even know how many times I have been on a paradise island and “have the worst day ever”
BC: What is the most challenging part of travel?
DD: Knowing what you truly want. I’m still battling this topic at times, so ask me in a year or two how I am doing.
BC: Any saving tips for travelling?
DD: I have a friend who travels the world for 5 euros per day. He’s been travelling for more than five years now (currently Peru).
5 euros x 365 days equals 1, 825 euros per year.
You want to tell me you don’t have that much in your bank account now?
If you do, you can travel for a year, at least. If you really are decided.
But I’m sure you already know that. You just procrastinate to make that decision (believe me, I know the process).
BC: What city or country have you found to be the best value for money so far?
DD: Everything Asia related will give you best rate of investment. Places like Vietnam, Laos or Thailand have the best value by far. I don’t think about that element the most though.
Go out and explore. The world is like a book. Reading only one page will give you a narrow description of what the book is about.
BC: Have you had any serious problems or been in dangerous situations abroad?
DD: Well… that’s quite funny (or maybe embarrassing), but my travels do have one common ‘dangerous’ theme. I’ve been almost molested a couple times already. These couple of times has mostly been by older white males (though some Asian guys recently as well). Nothing bad happened in the end, but it’s still funny. You would know why if you knew me – I’m a pretty well-built guy, with tattoos and stuff. Not many people want to pick a fight with me.
Still, when you’re travelling solo, hitch-hiking, or wandering, things happen. I try not to judge and instead I try to be curious of people and their ‘why’. I also learned to ask one crucial question when stress hits me, “what’s good about this?” I don’t stop until I find a couple of answers.
BC: Please tell us more about your future plans.
DD: Cape Town
BC: How did Nomad Letters come about?
I have a mission. Every day I wake up with one idea, “how can the world around us become a happier place?” I treat Nomad Letters (DamienDante.com) and “The Wake-Up Journey” (my book) as a platform to undress mentally and emotionally and start a conversation about that mission.
There are two things we have less and less on this planet. These two are time and attention. Both are disappearing somewhere between the constant noise of average life.
But if you focus and combine both, if you devote your TIME and your full ATTENTION to living, then you will see the biggest secret (and beauty) of it.
BC: What can we expect from your new book? (We are excited)
DD: Read any of my answers from this interview. If they provoked any intellectual or emotional response inside you, then you should read the book. You might take much from it.
If not, then maybe you’re already waking up every day, opening your eyes, looking outside the window, and thinking to yourself “I can’t believe I’m here…” And then you smile.
Because it couldn’t be any better.
If that’s the case, let me know, you will make my day happier as well.
And then get up and tell your story to the rest of the world. Let’s try to change it together.