Here’s a collection of travel tips from Dominic that he has shared in interviews over the past few years. Click the links below in the sources to see the full interviews with loads more great travel stories, including a story about Viggo Mortensen and magic mushrooms, and a trip to Thailand with Orlando Bloom and Billy Boyd.
How did you get into traveling so much?
My parents are both from Manchester, but I was born and grew up in Germany. My mum was a nurse and my dad was a teacher. They both worked with the armed forces, which meant we moved around all the time. I think that’s what gave me the travel bug. Every couple of years, we’d be in a new town, which meant new people and new adventures. It almost felt like I was reinventing myself every time we moved — a trick that came in handy when I eventually became an actor.
What’s your best piece of travel advice?
Smile. If you can’t speak the language and you don’t know what’s happening, just smile. I’ve found that I’ve got myself out of a lot of potentially sticky situations by just coming across as friendly. People sometimes get annoyed and frustrated and angry and then you smile and you find that it makes all those things fade away. Be friendly. Be tactile, shake people’s hands, touch them on the shoulder. Be safe, don’t pick up things that bite you too hard. And bring a camera to document everything!
What have you learnt from your travels?
I’ve learnt that the world over, everyone’s essentially the same. We are all trying to have a nice time and get along with things. If I’ve ever been in trouble on holiday there has always been someone available to help me.
The Beach House on Waiheke Island, which is near Auckland in New Zealand, was just fantastic. I’ve also stayed at some lovely small hotels in Thailand – but I can’t remember the names of them – and little shacks on the beach in Goa. For me it’s all about the time that you’re having and the company that you’re enjoying while you’re there. In terms of an epic experience though it’s hard to beat the George V in Paris. It’s traditional and very French and pretentious, but if you’re going to spend a weekend in Paris that’s the way to do it. The W in San Diego is swanky and cool and Casa de Carmona in Spain is lost in the 1940s and has an incredible charm and beautiful decor.
Where has seduced you?
I was really enamoured with Cusco in Peru. It’s full of art galleries and backpackers and you’re quite high up so you can’t do too much apart from drink coca tea. The food was fantastic, the weather was beautiful, there were llamas and alpacas wandering around nearby and I got to meet some really inspiring artists. The plane ride in was superb because you fly round the mountains and turn a corner to come into this little valley. You’re acutely aware of the isolation.
What’s the best book you’ve taken on holiday?
I read this fantastic book called The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny while I was in Thailand. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is amazing. When I was in India I read the Life of Pi, which lent really well to where I was. If I’m lucky I’ll pick a book that complements the place I’m staying.
Where would you revisit?
I’ll always go back to New Zealand where we filmed Lord Of The Rings. I’m drawn to Australia too. I also love India where I have tasted some of the best food ever.
Favourite hangouts in California?
I’ve been in LA for 10 years now and one of my favourite places to get in touch with the natural world is Griffith Park, which is close to me. The Griffith Observatory is in the park and it’s been hugely influential since the 1960s. They discovered a lot of amazing things with their telescope looking up at the night sky and it’s a great place to look at the wider world. And within the park you’ll also find coyote, skunks, man cats and deer and a lot of interesting animals.
I like to go to Santa Barbara too, which is about three hours drive north up the Pacific Coast from LA. It’s a little bit of a sleepy part of California and it’s probably better known for being a bit of a retirement community but there’s some great forests there that are filled with wildlife and animals. In Los Padres National Forest, you’ll find loads of endangered species including the peregrine falcon, the mountain lion and the California mule deer and there’s a condor sanctuary too. It’s a magical place.
It’s Berlin for buildings, Bangkok for suits and the Peak District for beauty like nowhere else in Britain.
Tips for enjoying a rain forest expedition without dying of jungle fever?
Plant life is brutal. Trees have thorns and spikes, so wear gloves and don’t touch anything you can’t identify, and definitely don’t investigate leaking sap, because it’s usually poisonous. Army ants come out in millions, and if you are on the ground and debilitated, they’ll eat you. They respond to movement, so if you’re spotted, stay still. A good rule of thumb when you’re out looking for food in the jungle: If the monkeys are eating it, you’ll probably be OK. A military-grade pocket flashlight is a great weapon because it’s temporarily blinding and there’s a semi-serrated edge around the bulb.
Best place you’ve visited this year?
The best place I’ve visited this year is Zambia, a slightly forgotten African country where the people are warm and friendly. The food has influences of India and the flavours are spicy and rich. There are animals everywhere you look and the sun shines from six till six, so there is ample opportunity for wildlife spotting. I recommend trying to work with local wardens to get close to rhinos. Check it out! Be curious!