You don’t need to be a millionaire to travel worldwide. You can have good time without spending much money. That is Jo Franco’s life philosophy, and that was her motivation to create, along with Damon Dominique, a TV show or vlog on international travel in YouTube, named “Shut up and go”.
Jo talked for atombash.com readers on how both friends decided to film their travel journeys. She also shared useful tips to have a great low cost trip to Mexico during the next Holidays season.
Silvia Meave: Who are Damon and Jo?
Jo Franco: We’re two best friends who turned our passions for learning languages and traveling the world our full time jobs with our travel web series and blog called “Shut up and go”. We document our crazy adventures as budget travelers and as goof balls. Unlike typical, cookie-cutter and robotic travel shows, we show you when things go wrong and always spin it to be a part of the experience, with a few punch lines for comic relief.
SM: How did you meet?
JF: We met in a Facebook group of our University in NYC. Before we both moved from our suburban towns, Damon was moving from Indiana, and I was moving from Connecticut, to live our dreams in NYC, we began a digital friendship with Facebook messages about French placement exams and housing assignments. We both had a like-minded spirit to get things done, and have a good time without spending much money. When we coincidentally decided to study abroad in Paris at the same time, we started filming our adventures and thus, the DamonAndJo YouTube channel started.
SM: Why did you decide to vlog about travel on a budget?
JF: We decided to document our adventures while studying abroad for a few reasons; to remember the funny little things that happened in Paris, to do something creative with our time, but most of all, we filmed to show our friends and family back home how we were actually traveling without being rich. We both come from working class families who are by no means rolling in the dough. I am a Brazilian immigrant who grew up cleaning houses with my mom, and Damon grew up in a trailer park. Variables that could’ve held us back but we didn’t allow them to.
SM: When did you start to vlog?
JF: Our first video as in October of 2012! Seems like forever ago. It wasn’t until this year that we got serious about YouTube. Before that, we were focused on pitching a TV show because we thought media needed some fresh faces to the travel show game. We got into the series development offices of the biggest channels only for them to tell us that travel will never sell for young people. We only let that fuel our mission to prove that young people are traveling more than ever now, and that positive content would work. A few months later and we have more than 155,000 subscribers who clicked “subscribe” because they’re interested in just that.
SM: Why did you choose the name “Shut up and go” for a travel vlog?
JF: “Shut up and go” is what we randomly said in one of our Mexican videos. It came from the heart: “Our names are Damon and Jo and we’re telling you to shut up and go.” BAM! It became our mission statement. It’s not just about travel either, it’s on anything from learning a language, quitting jobs, going out solo, etc. We write blogs on our site, shutupandgo.travel, on those topics whereas our videos mostly reflect our friendship and travel.
SM: What do you want to say with this name to your audience?
JF: Shut up and go after what you want in life. Stop making excuses, just do it.
SM: I understand you have traveled extensively in Mexico. What’s your favorite place in Mexico to visit on a limited budget and how much an American would spend while traveling in this way during a short vacation or weekend?
JF: We had the chance to live in Playa del Carmen for a month and learn Spanish and wow, we miss that amazing place! It was such a calm and walkable city, we didn’t feel in danger at all. For the entire month, we spent about $400 each on food and activities, or less to be honest because of the dollar/peso conversion rate. For a weekend, you can get away with $100 for food and activities. It depends if you’re trying to go all out, but if you’re doing it the Damon and Jo way, you’ll be eating “quekas” (folded tortillas filled with a variety of traditional food) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to save your money for excursions like to Mayan ruins and cenotes that will change your life.
SM: What are your best tips for Americans traveling to Mexico on a budget?
JF: Take advantage and enjoy everything that’s local about Mexico. Things including “fondas” (low cost restaurants), and natural juice stands. Also don’t be afraid to bargain your way to cheaper rates for tours. We cut the price that was offered in half when seeing Chichen Itza because we asked in Spanish. Little tricks like that will save the day.