We’ve all used our phone’s GPS to help us navigate our way to a restaurant or vacation destination. But if you haven’t gone to your smartphone as an actual fun-seeking reference once you got to said place, you’ve sorely been missing out. At least that’s the premise behind Weekend Fix, a new travel show hosted by actor Omar Miller (CSI: Miami, House of Lies) and his good friend and fashion designer, Andres Izquieta, that premieres on Esquire Network on October 29 at 10 p.m. Before he officially starts helping other Twitter-obsessed, selfie-taking vacationers with their plans, Miller chatted with Forbes Travel Guide from his L.A. home about everything from his new TV program and memorable journeys to sorting out his unpaid light bill.
Where in the world are you right now?
I am in Los Angeles right now. And a funny thing happens when you travel a lot: I literally just got off the phone with the power company because I couldn’t figure out if I just didn’t pay my bill or if they had a power outage in the area. And apparently, I didn’t pay my bill. One of the essential things that you need to have when you travel is auto bill pay. I set up my auto bill pay, and somehow or the other they got it messed up. So, I had to bark at some people. Anyway, now I’m back moving and grooving.
Glad your lights are back on. Now, if you could, shed some light on your backstory. How did you go from this kid in Southern California to having your own travel show?
You know, it’s actually not as far-fetched as, I guess, it seems. My parents were really, really avid travelers, and they were very serious about us taking trips. We took road trips primarily because there was so many of us — there are seven of us. But we traveled a lot, and I think that’s where I got the travel bug — from my father, especially. He loves trips. He loves new experiences. You could see his face light up whenever he would even talk about going someplace new. And so, when I became of age and started to have the option of traveling, I dug in full force. And for me, I realized that there are different levels to it. When I was in college, I would figure out how to travel on a budget. And as I continued to progress in my professional career, I just continued to scale out these trips. Now, the way the technology is set up, no matter what your budget is, you can have a wonderful, monster time on a trip for a little bit of nothing.
What are some keys to having a great time in two or three days?
One, you need to be open. You can’t suffocate the trip with being bogged down with plans. You have to be open to the experience, because no matter what you read online and so on and so forth, everything touches everyone differently when you’re actually there, wherever there is. You know? Everything touches each person in its own way. So, you have to have an open mind. You have to have a general idea of where it is that you’re going. So, if you say, “Hey, I’m going to Toronto,” you’ve got to have a general idea of the layout of the city. This is how I roll. It doesn’t have to be specific, especially if I’ve never been there before. And then, when you go and you have your open mind and you have your general layout, you’ve got to get out and explore. You can do search and discovery now, because there’s so much technology now. You can do search and discovery on the spot. You don’t have to take a whole lot of time doing research. You can reach out to other people who have already been there via your social network. Or, you can just literally Google search your way into a good time. You just have to be open. You have to be willing to do the search. The good time, the good weekend, they don’t come to you, you’ve got to go get ’em. It’s like life, you know. You’ve got to participate.
Have you always been an open-minded traveler?
I’ve always been open. I’ve never really been interested in planning in general, which has frustrated a lot of girlfriends and people in my life. But it makes for a really, really fun time. There’s a lot of research that talks about the anticipation of trips. [Scientists say] if you plan a trip far out, people seem to have a more enjoyable time on the trip, because they can sit around and anticipate, “Aw, it’s gonna happen. It’s just three weeks away.” I’m not a believer in that. I think that a lot of young professionals now, we’re so busy with what we are trying to do. The world is so connected because of its nonstop connectivity, literally, in your work or in your personal life. I think that planning is much less necessary now. And if you’re open to it, you can go and just really enjoy yourself for a short period of time on short notice.
Omar, there are dozens of travel shows out there. What is going to make Weekend Fix special?
Well, first and foremost, I’m on it. So, this changes everything. You know, you have a cultured, young, worldly perspective on every trip that is being taken. And, two, that perspective is being translated through the current eyes of two individuals who have a varied background. So, what I mean by that is, I’m more of a traditional, analog-minded traveler. My partner on the show, Andres, is a navigator. He is a savvy individual that maximizes his phones, his computer and his connections to have a good time. So, whereas I’m a lone wolf — I’m going to get out and about and just go do it — he actually crowd sources his way into a good time. And that melding really does something special. It ain’t your daddy’s Oldsmobile, you know. It ain’t your father’s travel show. This is a travel show 2.0 with a whole lot of tech-heavy influence that is really, really now. It is going to have a futuristic kind of feel. The way that our show is going to interact with the viewer is like nothing else that is on television. Wait till you see it. We have all kinds of applications and all kinds of things are happening on-screen that will mimic what it looks like on your phone. This is why the network wanted to do it. Because it’s really different, really cutting edge. And the impetus was that my buddy is on the show with me. We travel together in real life. We went to Brazil for New Year’s Eve a couple years ago, and we went to Tokyo. And between those two trips, seeing the way that people respond to me out and about, with the way that they recognize me and seeing the way that we travel on spontaneous trips with navigation through our phones, we thought, “Wow, how cool would this be if people could see this?” We know we are not alone. We feel like we perfected it, but we’re not alone. There are a lot of millennials out there, and people who are just beyond the millennials, who are very interested in learning how to travel in the most efficient and realistic way. A lot of people feel that they can’t do this. What this show is going to show you is, “You can do this. Look at that. Look at how simple that was.”
Of your travels with Andres or by yourself, which city blew you away with its food and overall experience?
I was absolutely, positively blown away in Jerusalem. It was crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it. From the historical and spiritual aspect to the culture and the food and the actual relevance on the world scale of what’s going on, it is a giant piece of the world. You know what I mean? Because you have Jerusalem as the epicenter for the world’s three major religions, there is something that happens within that that is just totally undeniable. There’s something I feel like just happens because of that layout. There’s an excitement that I can’t — you have to experience. You have the Muslims, the Christians and the Jews all there — literally trekking there — all the time for this spiritual experience. But then you have the other side, which is a lot of fun as well. They have great restaurants, great bars. A very lively, inclusive scene when it comes to tourists. At least that’s the experience I had.
With your acting schedule, interviews and everything, you have to have jet lag or travel fatigue. How do you overcome it?
You know what’s interesting? There’s an excitement that comes when you land in a new place that allows you, for me at least, to get my adrenaline pumping and allows me to power through. Now, where you will catch me completely and totally zombied out is at the house because, when I get back home, there’s a good chance that I am just going to lay down and rest extensively. This is the biggest thing with travel. You have to plan your rest, but you don’t want to waste time on your trip. You have to be energized when you get to the spot and plan your rest accordingly. And if you are lucky enough to be an individual who can sleep on a plane, man oh man, are you a winner. I can’t. For some reason, I don’t know what it is. I don’t care if it is a lie-flat cabin or whatever. I just can never get in that right position on a plane, you know?