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Star of Departures Justin Lukach Tells Travel Tales


After three successful seasons of Departures, a travel show documenting the international meanderings of friends Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach, Justin reflects on his country-hopping adventures and drops hints about upcoming projects.

Q: Were you much of a traveller before you signed on with Departures?

When I was done college, I moved to Vegas and travelled a lot. Me and my roommate made a goal that every month we would go somewhere; maybe San Francisco, San Diego, Hawaii, Mexico, Arizona. So I did travel, but nothing worldly like I did with Departures.

Q: Obviously the show has to be edited to create a storyline. Was anything staged?

I really got into a lot of arguments with the producers about faking stuff. I said, “I’m not an actor—I am who I am. Whatever you guys want me to do, first off, I don’t want to do it. I’m going to do something better, ten times better, and it’s going to be real.” So I never faked anything or played up for the camera much.

Q: Was the show mostly just a job for you or did you really adopt the backpacking lifestyle?

Once you get a taste of travelling, you just don’t want to stop, especially at the level we were doing it. We could go pretty much wherever we wanted, and we had access with Departures. But we also had a lot more pressure than anyone else travelling. I would say there were about five days in three years that I was allowed to do whatever I wanted and the camera wasn’t rolling.

Q: For people who are inspired by Departures to travel but do not have the same kind of budget, what would you recommend they do?

I always recommend people move to Australia. Let that be your base. You’ll meet people, find work, and make good money for travel. If you move to Thailand and start working, you’re not going to make any money, right? But if you make enough in Australian currency, then you can just go off and travel all the spots around there. There’s a lot to see in the South Pacific. In North America it’s kind of hard. Where do you go for cheap; Mexico? Travel around Cancun? I mean, come on. Vancouver is a really tough spot to travel from.

Q: Has Departures served as your foot-in-the-door in the film industry?

Not really. No one is really like, “Oh you’re that drunk guy from Departures who likes candy and chasing animals around.” I kind of get stereotyped for that.

Q: Do you have any travel plans or projects right now?

I think I want more than anybody in this world to do another season for Departures, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. But something else with me and Scott? For sure. I think there is definitely a need for good television out there, and the project I’m working on is exactly that. It’s about promoting a better life and showing what’s out there.

Q: What travel advice would you give to Vancouverites?

If there’s something you want to do, plan for it and make it happen. And really make it happen, because no one gives you the right to see another day. So see the world and enjoy it. I’m just a regular guy who got a lucky break in life, so if I can encourage people to see the world and live a better life, I walk away with a smile on my face.

Follow Justin Lukach on his journeys:
Or on Twitter: @MrJustinLukach

2013 Pacific Rim Cover, "Impossible Choices" Cover Story. Image of Marilou Tuzon.

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