Over the past couple of years, a free-spirited Sydneysider by the name of Luke Damant has gleefully globe-trotted his way into the hearts of many via the success of his eponymous YouTube travel channel, 'Travel with Luke Damant'.
From capturing the bustling streets of Baghdad to the mystic mountains of Munnar, Luke's unfiltered style and endearing approach towards vlog-based lifestyle content has earned him quite the burgeoning fandom, with his thousands of followers across various social media platforms serving as testament to the fact.
All of 21 years today, Luke has steadily evolved into a multifaceted Gen-Z entrepreneur, having achieved a seamless and coveted blend of passion and profession, in equal measure.
In an exclusive interview with SK POP's Saahil Agnelo Periwal, Luke recently opened up about his journey as a cross-platform content creator, his travel junkie lifestyle, and the beauty of exploring the world at large for a living.
Cheese parathas, firecracker accidents, and more: The life of a travel vlogger ft. Luke Damant
Q) Hi Luke! Could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Luke: My name is Luke Damant, I am a 21-year-old travel vlogger from Sydney, Australia, who focuses on sharing the reality of countries around the world.
I’d define myself as an energetic and curious youngster who wants to learn more about cultures and live life to the fullest.
My main goal with the travel videos I create is to visit countries that have a negative reputation in the world media and showcase that these countries are actually safe and home to some of the kindest people in the world.
My educational background is very limited due to my lack of belief in the current education system in providing real-world valuable skills. I finished high school and stopped any further education there.
Q) Could you share with us some excerpts from your childhood and formative years which were instrumental in inculcating your affinity towards the world of travel, lifestyle, and adventure at large?
Luke: Being brought up on the beaches of Australia, adventure was a key component of my childhood. My father was very active, he loved being outdoors at the beach, going for bike rides, or hiking.
I, of course, would tag along for these adventures, and I think that’s where my love for exploration began. My dad also loved cameras and filming, so a lot of my childhood I remember being on family vacations, and my dad would always be snapping photos and making videos.
At the time I hated being photographed, but looking back on those memories as a kid is so nostalgic and I’m glad I was forced to smile.
My mum, on the other hand, was a very avid traveler when she was younger. She traveled and worked overseas in many countries across the world, exploring and learning about new cultures.
I am the perfect blend between my mother and father. I took a bit of my mum's interest in international travel and took a bit of my dad's interest in filming/photography.
Put the two together, and you have Luke, who is filming his adventures overseas.
Q) What inspired you to take up travel vlogging as a career choice?
Luke: My initial inspirations of travel vlogging were engrained at age 17 through watching YouTube videos of people doing the exact same thing.
I’d watch these vloggers every day and see them live life to the fullest, exploring some of the most amazing places on earth.
My exact thoughts when watching these videos were “If they can do this, why can’t I?”
Q) Briefly guide us through your content strategy and creative process that goes into the making of a vlog/YouTube video.
Luke: My content strategy is split into three groups, for the three platforms I post on: Youtube, Facebook, and TikTok. My YouTube videos are generally around 30 minutes long that are filmed by me, with the raw footage then being uploaded to the cloud for my team to edit.
Once the edits, thumbnails, descriptions, etc. are reviewed, it is scheduled for the specified date.
Once the YouTube video is finalized, the team works on 3-4 minute subtitled videos for Facebook and 1-minute videos for TikTok. A YouTube video can have anywhere between 2-6 Facebook/TikTok videos in it.
Q) While starting out initially, how did you go about funding your trips and subsequently managing expenses?
Luke: After finishing high school in 2018, I went straight into full-time work at a friend's furniture moving company. I worked 6 days a week for 6 months straight, saving every single penny for my travels. I also had a few side hustles, including the re-selling of furniture on eBay and online dropshipping stores.
During these 6 months, I lived a pretty boring life. I didn’t go out with my friends who were partying at the time because I knew that $100 spent out on a night out could be used for a few days of travel in a different part of the world.
I never ate out or spent money on takeaway for the same reason. But, for me, it was easy as I knew I wanted to spend my money traveling and creating videos around the world.
With the savings I had, I budgeted accordingly, often staying at hostels and eating street food to minimize expenses. After a few months of consistently filming for YouTube, my ad revenue covered my travel expenses.
Q) What kind of research goes into finalizing your next go-to destination on the map?
Luke: Very little. I am a very spontaneous person and, usually, a video or story can get me to book a flight to a new country. You can research all you want, but I know from experience that the best research comes from the locals that live in the country who can give recommendations.
So usually, I just research visa/COVID requirements, book a flight, one-night accommodation, and figure the rest out when I’m there.
Q) Having traveled extensively across Asia particularly, share with us your most memorable experience/learnings from your travels so far.
Luke: I’ve had some amazing experiences across Asia, and I think that’s why I love coming back to this region of the world so often. Some amazing experiences have included a 2-week trip in the Indian Himalayas and seeing some of the most scenic views I’ve ever laid my eyes on.
My trip to Sri Lanka in 2019 & 2022 where I experienced the amazing beaches in the south and breathtaking views in the mountains.
This region of the earth is so diverse, and I believe it is home to some of the most hospitable people on the planet, and I am still amazed at the generosity that I come across every day.
I’ve learnt from this region that even if we look different, have different jobs, whatever the difference is, we still smile the same and genuinely want the best for each other.
Q) The scariest/ most extraordinary experience you've had so far while on tour?
Luke: Without a doubt, the scariest/most extraordinary experience I’ve had was in 2019 when I blew up my hand celebrating Diwali in Kerala, India.
Unfortunately, the firecracker I was lighting was faulty, and it blew up in my hand upon lighting. Thankfully, my Indian friends who were with me at the time saved me from bleeding to death after my hand was split into two and my thumb was hanging off the back of my hand by a few ligaments.
Remarkably, after two operations and 11 days spent in an Indian hospital, I only lost my middle finger and part of my index finger. I was incredibly lucky to make it out alive, let alone still having the majority of function in my right hand.
Q) What are the challenges one tends to face while traveling solo in a foreign country? Any safety precautions you would advise?
Luke: Personally, I don’t face too many challenges traveling solo. A lot of the time I end up meeting local people within the first few days of arriving who are kind and happy to show me around. So in reality I’m not solo traveling that much of the time.
But one thing that is always on my mind is that if I get sick or injured overseas, I’m on my own to overcome this. My family and friends are in Australia, so it’s really up to me to problem solve and overcome situations by myself.
But this is a great learning experience and really teaches you about independence and forces you to gain the ability to take care of yourself.
I’d probably give the same advice to anybody traveling anywhere in the world. Just be careful where you go, always be on high alert and don’t show your valuables.
Q) There's a famous saying which goes: "It's the people who make the place." Any such interaction with a local over the course of your travels which left an everlasting impression upon you?
Luke: This quote is 100% true. There have been so many amazing people I’ve met in different countries that have made the experience 10x better. The first that comes to mind is my good friend Fouad in Lebanon.
I randomly met Fouad in my first week in Lebanon whilst walking down the street asking for food recommendations. He was such a cool guy, and we connected instantly. He ended up showing my friend Mac and I all over Lebanon for the month we were there, and I’m grateful to call him my friend.
It’s crazy to think about it because if we had left for lunch just one minute later, we never would have met and our trip would have been unbelievably different.
Q) Tell us your top 3 favorite cuisines and top 3 favorite dishes from across the world?
Luke: My favorite dish is Cheese Paratha from Quetta Chai in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Nothing I have eaten around the world comes close to the feeling I get when eating this amazing food. However, I’ve had some amazing chicken shawarmas in Lebanon.
I specifically love these because of the garlic sauce (Toum) they put on it. I’ve also had some amazing Ghee Dosas during my time in India. I love the crispy dosas with loads of sambar with it.
Q) Top three things on your travel bucket list?
Luke: I’m not the biggest fan of bucket lists, I don’t have one. But here are the 3 things I’m thinking of right now that I would like to do before I leave this earth.
- Visit every country in the world
- Summit K2
- Have no regrets
Q) Being all of 20-something, was there ever a sense of pressure with regards to the eternal dilemma of pursuing one's 'passion as profession,' given the uncertain nature and investment required in travel vlogging?
Luke: I was very fortunate to have two amazing parents who backed my belief and wished me the best of success on my journey. They were very understanding that my goal and dream was to do what I am doing today, and if they insisted on further education, it would be hindering this goal.
I am also very lucky that a “gap year” for travel is very common for teenagers in Australia, so it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary for people my age to go away for 6 months to a year after saving.
My mum specifically just wanted me to be happy in whatever I did; she was a big traveler herself and knew the benefits of a gap year and travel.
When I have kids, I will happily let them go on years of travel as I know the things learned from being independent and responsible for yourself outweighs anything you can learn in university.
Q) Apart from traveling, what are some of your other hobbies?
Luke: When I’m not focusing on content creation or traveling, I enjoy watching and playing sports, specifically AFL (Australian Football League) and cricket. I absolutely love being at the beach and swimming or surfing with friends.
But most of the time my hobbies revolve around adventuring and exploring new places.
Q) 3 YouTubers/ content creators whom you consider influences/ admire?
Luke: Some major inspirations for me were Bald n Bankrupt’s/Harald Baldr’s series in India. I love their raw style and comedic videos.
Conner Sullivan's series in India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia were really awesome. His energy was so high and was always excited to explore new places and meet new people.
I am also inspired by Drew Binksy and his ability to have turned his passion into an incredible and sustainable business.
Q) Having amassed a stellar subscriber count across multiple platforms over the past couple of years, is there any message/word of advice you would like to share for budding travel vloggers and fans across the world?
Luke: Chase your dreams. I say this at the end of every video as I believe wholeheartedly in it. I’m nothing special, I’m just a kid who chased his dream and after working hard I achieved it.
Anyone can do this, but the first step is always the hardest.