Travel has the ability to ignites one’s curiosity about the world. And what was once perceived as a luxury, has now become a necessity to live life to the fullest.
With the influx of travel bloggers, vloggers, and influencers who fill their blogs and social media pages with gorgeous images of luxurious travel experiences that can only be attained by the rich and powerful, only a relative few portray travel as something that can be experienced by those who don’t have an unlimited bank account in a way that is truly genuine and compelling. For Miami-based travel host David Hoffmann, his passion for travel is only part of the equation of his success. His down-to-earth personality and everyman appeal, combined with his desire to showcase destinations the way locals experience them, makes Hoffmann stand out in a crowded field in a way that feels both authentic and refreshing.
“Travel is the one thing that we buy that makes us richer,” Hoffmann says. “Every time I travel, I learn more about the world, but I also learn more about myself. Each trip changes me to the core and, I hope, makes me a better person.”
Hoffmann, a 34-year-old entrepreneur, husband, father, and foodie, is the face of David’s Been Here, a one-stop travel guide resource that provides travel inspiration and advice. In the past 12 years, he has immersed himself in countless cultures across 77 countries and traveled to over 1,100 cities. As a travel host, producer, and social media influencer, Hoffmann is greatly influenced by the places he has visited in the world. To date, he has hosted over 2,000 travel episodes across six continents. His ingenuity in providing high-quality write-ups and video travel guides has helped professional and recreational travelers alike in their quest for honest and accurate travel information that comes from first-hand experiences.
Hoffmann’s diverse family culture–he was born to Venezuelan parents of Italian and Hungarian descent–was the catalyst that unlocked his curiosity about the world. He visited his mother’s family in Gubbio, Italy for the first time in 2003 and found himself unable to speak and communicate with them in the traditional sense. However, he found that he was able to connect with them through two things that would later become central to David’s Been Here: food and culture.
“That trip started everything for me,” Hoffmann says. “I stayed with my mom’s family for a whole week in Gubbio. It was the most incredible cultural experience ever even though I couldn’t understand the language. I fell in love with the food and couldn’t get enough of learning as much as I could about the Italian culture. That trip made me realize my life wouldn’t be complete if travel wasn’t a big part of it.”
Instead of letting the communication barrier stop him, it sparked a desire within him to travel more and learn more about the world around him. After spending 100 days traveling around Europe during the summer of 2007, Hoffmann returned to Miami with a newfound hunger to create travel content that showed the world through his eyes. He put together a business plan, raised $250,000 from sponsors, and hired a small film crew. The crew, comprised of a videographer, a sound technician, an editor, and an assistant, joined Hoffmann on a two-year adventure through Europe following his graduation from the University of Miami.
From 2007 to 2009, Hoffmann and his film crew shot 500 short-form episodes focusing on cultural and historical sites, gastronomy, and nightlife in 22 nations. While filming, Hoffmann adopted a serious, conventional host-like persona that is far from his warm, boisterous, and outgoing personality. But with the rise of more personal travel vlogging in the 2010s, Hoffmann knew he needed to shake up his style if he wanted to maintain his success.
“I had to learn to not care what people thought of me,” he says. “I had worried about what people would think if I was more myself and more off-the-cuff, which is what vlogging is all about. My imperfect grammar, my Miami accent, my laid-back style…I had to learn to embrace them. Now I think of them as my strengths because they’re real. People want to see authenticity more than anything else.”
He learned to film and edit his own videos and studied vlogging superstars like Casey Neistat and Mark Wiens to get comfortable with being himself on camera. Hoffmann re-branded his YouTube channel as a travel vlog channel in the summer of 2017. He utilized the long-form vlog format to show more of the destinations he traveled to than ever before while using his friendly nature to draw in audiences and make them feel as though they were traveling with him. The shift proved to be a success for Hoffmann, who gained over half a million new supporters and subscribers from around the world over the next three years.
Since launching his channel, Hoffmann has been named one of the Top 10 Best Travel Videographers by USA Today as well as one of the Top 10 Travel Video Sites by OOAWorld. He was also awarded the Travel Video Alliance Award for Best Culinary Video/Series in 2020.
Driven by the concept of independent travel and local adventures amid mass tourism, Hoffmann prides himself on sharing destinations that people cannot easily find in most travel guides, such as Suriname, Uzbekistan, Bhutan, Kuwait, and Armenia. He meticulously documents his experiences to create diverse videos and detail-rich written guides that share his favorite things to do and experience in each destination, including its best restaurants, dishes, historical sites, cultural experiences, and day trip options. He does it all with the help of local guides, who he often finds via YouTube and Instagram.
“I’m not a big fan of big tour groups or big tour companies that are run by foreigners,” Hoffmann explains. “The way to get a real, authentic experience is to experience a destination the way a local would. Locals know all the hidden gems, the best spots to eat, the natural wonders that no one else has ever seen. They can explain their food and culture to you better than any outside tour guide can. It’s a deeper and more fulfilling type of travel.”
Hoffmann only suggests what he has tried himself. For him, giving honest advice and answering questions about the places he has been to is part of his mission to bring independent travel to the masses.
“When people message me and email me and say ‘I’m going to such-and-such place next month, where should I eat or what should I do,’ it means the world to me,” he says. “Having people’s trust is something I’ll never take for granted. And it makes me so happy to see that something I’ve created has inspired them to take travel into their own hands and do it independently. Professionally, it’s the greatest gift I could ask for.”