Meet Dana Drahos, Podcast Producer and Host
The “Passport to People” interview series features inspiring, creative souls I’ve met while traveling.
Meet Dana Drahos, an American podcast producer based in Saigon and the show host of the inspiring podcast Creators in Saigon.
Before setting off to Vietnam last month , I knew I HAD TO meet Dana. I first learned of Dana from my friend and past Passport to People feature, Frances, who was a guest on Dana’s podcast, Creators in Saigon. Frances introduced us via messenger and Dana instantly responded. One bowl of noodles later and I ended up being a guest on her podcast. You can check out my episode below! And now she’s making an appearance on this blog! A little backstory: straight out of college, Dana found a job in New York City, but soon realized it wasn’t what she wanted. She then set her sights on making her dream to move abroad come true. Her move to Vietnam in 2018 paid off, allowing her to experiment with various career tracks, ultimately landing her in the role she is in today as a podcast producer, manager, and show host. I found her to be a kindred spirit in her shared appreciation for the creative energy surging through Saigon. She is also one of the most articulate, hard working, and driven individuals I have ever met. If you have a podcast or would like to start one, she is the person for the job! On top of being extremely well-researched and well-spoken, she is committed to doing her best, as seen in her personal podcast. I’ve listened to every episode of Creators in Saigon and one thing is evident: a podcast is only as good as its host. This podcast is pretty phenomenal. To learn more about her podcast managing services, visit danadrahos.com.
Q: Hello Dana, thank you for being the first podcast strategist I’ve had on the blog! Such an interesting job… But first, how did you end up in Vietnam?
I googled “Best place to Teach English Abroad” and Vietnam was at the top of the list. I was already hooked even just reading the word “Vietnam!” I had never been anywhere in Asia, never even planned on ever traveling to Asia, but for some reason my heart screamed “YES” when I saw that word. I started researching more and more into it and I was convinced!
For a comprehensive country guide to Vietnam, check out Destinations: Vietnam.
Q: What was the first thing you did to prepare for your move abroad?
I started following people on Instagram and Youtube who lived in Vietnam so I could get a taste of what their daily life was like.
Q: Is there a place you’ve really connected to while traveling around Vietnam?
So far in Vietnam, Da Lat has been my favorite place. I think because scenically, it reminds me of home in a way but it’s still new and exciting. You can sit and work at a coffee shop nestled in rolling hills and mountains, go hiking and see some waterfalls, and people watch at the night market while devouring their specialty pizza- Banh Trang Nuong.
For tips on what to do in Dalat, check out “Top Five Things To Do in Dalat”.
Q: What do you think is key to planning a successful trip?
A balance of preparation and spontaneity. I hate booking tours that jam pack the itinerary and feeling rushed, so what I do is research the places where the tours go, and then just pick and choose the parts I want to do and go by myself, taking my time, and leaving room for flexibility.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about traveling?
The opportunity to learn a new perspective that you wouldn’t have before. Growing up in the USA, I didn’t grow up in a religious household and then came to Vietnam, and had more conversations with spiritual people who believe in the power of the universe. And even though we come from from different places and have had different upbringings, there’s always a shared human connection that we can relate upon.
Q: What’s a song that puts you in the traveling mood?
Jazon Mraz always puts me in a good mood, he’s so positive and optimistic in all his songs, he just sings of love and life and happiness.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about your podcast!
Creators in Saigon is a show based in the rapidly modernizing city of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. I used to host the show solo but my Vietnamese bestie and Saigon native, Lam Tue, has just joined as my co-host. Starting in 2020, we’ll have weekly intimate conversations with creative entrepreneurs on all topics of the human experience, such as fear, creativity, sexuality, relationships, health, mental wellness, spirituality, and so much more. But you can catch all of the Season 1’s five-episodes here.
Q: For aspiring podcast creators, what podcast have you gone to for inspiration?
Lewis Howes’ The School of Greatness – super inspiring, he interviews the most inspiring people and the whole concept is how can we all find our inner greatness?
Q: What is a podcast interview question you really love asking? Why?
In my last season I was asking everyone, “What is something you currently own that you hope to still have with you up until the day you die? “
It’s interesting because it forces you to stop and think about the things that really matter in your life, and how the majority of our material possessions don’t actually mean that much. And for many people the answer is their journals, because it holds their memories.
Q: What advice would you give someone wanting to create a podcast?
Test out your microphone and make sure you know how to use it and that the sound quality is good before interviewing your guest. You don’t want to lose an amazing interview because of sound issues. Also, you might be tempted to mimic what other podcasters are doing because you’ve seen it work for them, but listen to your heart and what feels right to you. If you do that you will make magic!
Listen to some of Creators in Saigon’s best episodes, including my podcast about intention!
Q: Now onto my favorite interview question! You, unfortunately, have been condemned to die. But fortunately, you get to have any meal in the world before you go. What is your menu?
l love sandwiches. It would be one of those mozzarella cheese, basil pesto sandwiches. And some of that New York pizza. I just love the margarita style in particular. Here in Vietnam, you order a margarita and they put the littlest sliver of basil. Blasphemy.
Q: What is the oddest place you’ve ever been to?
I went to a topless bar in the Red Light District in Amsterdam was pretty wild. To be clear, I was not topless.
Q: What’s your best travel-related investment?
It’s not even a major investment but a sleeping mask and ear plugs for when you’re stuck sleeping at the airport or on any overnight public transportation, they’re truly a lifesaver.
Q: If you were exiled to one country for the rest of your life, where would it be?
I’d have to say the United States because my family is there but also it really is a great place, there are SO many different micro-cultures and cities to see, with all different landscapes, different foods. It really is the melting pot so if you’re exiled there you’re really not exiled to one country.
Q: Any hidden gems you’ve stumbled upon while adventuring?
If you’re ever in Da Nang, Vietnam, there’s a hole-in-the-wall Asian fusion taco joint called Taco NGON, also with beers for less than a dollar. SO GOOD.
Q: Do you have a bucket list?
I’ve had my eye on Switzerland, Italy, and the Czech Republic. I’d love to do a road trip across Canada and also do all the national parks in the US like Zion National Park and Yellowstone.
Here are some photos of Dana on her various travels!
Q: What was a memorable ‘first’ abroad?
When I studied abroad in Australia, I went bungee jumping AND skydiving, on the SAME DAY. It was an adrenaline-packed day for sure. I would absolutely go skydiving again but I’m ok on the bungee jumping.
Q: Biggest lessons learned on the road?
Triple check your flight ticket and make sure that your “transfer” is within the same airport.
I made this mistake in Tokyo..there are two airports, who knew! And I had to get a last minute taxi that cost me $275 and an hour long drive to make it to the other airport in time.
Q: What do you “know now” that you wish you “knew then”?
How travel and life experience will give you way more valuable knowledge than four years accumulating massive debt in college will…I tell every youngster I can to take a gap year traveling before they go to university if it’s possible.
Q: What is a good place to travel to but you would never want to live there?
Bali is AWESOME to visit short term I think, but people are always in and out there. This is why I love Saigon because I’ve been able to establish a solid community of people who are living here long-term.
Q: What film gives you a serious case of wanderlust?
The Kindness Diaries (available on Netflix.)
This documentary series follows a man who travels around the world on nothing but the kindness of strangers and pays them back in beautiful ways in the end. Cue the tears!!!