Love Stories: Elise Cook on being charmed by Domenic Palumbo

One thing that’s probably just as clear as Elise Cook’s fervor for the open road while onboard Scout (yep, that’s the name of her often-pictured kombi van) is her obvious love for husband and kombi co-pilot Domenic Palumbo. Living on the road together full-time since early 2017 – whether it’s camping with friends in Byron Bay, boating around the Whitsundays, or just taking Scout on one of many daily adventures, these two continue to give us couple goal after couple goal.

With Elise in town ahead of a presenting gig with Domenic at RadLivin*, we thought there was no better time to chat to this van-adventuring lifestyle influencer about her and Dom’s relationship story: from how they first met, to falling in love, to married life…

How long have you and Domenic been together?
We met back in 2008, so coming on ten years now.

Can you tell me how you first met?
I was working at a bar in a hotel, saving up to move overseas. Four weeks before my flight out, Dom was brought in to manage the hotel’s bar and restaurant. One day he walked up behind me when I was making a coffee, took hold of my hands from behind, told me I wasn’t making the coffee right – and made the entire coffee with his hands on mine, wrapped around behind me… and that was the first time we spoke. I’m pretty sure I was thinking, ‘who the heck does this guy think he is?!’ Haha.

There was an instant, very unexpected spark. We went on a couple of dates (secretly because he was my manager) and then I told him that a week later I was moving to London, that I didn’t know how long I’d be gone for – but that if when I returned we were both still single, I’d love to start catching up again. He looked straight at me and said, “What are you talking about? I’m in love with you. I don’t care if you’re gone for three years, I’ll be at the airport when you get back.”
Pretty sure I responded with… “Rightio… cool…” while thinking, ‘what do I say to that?!’
That’s Dom though – he knows what he wants and he is a man of action.

I left and ended up being away for a year. Over that year we spoke three times, twice early on, and then one long call right before Christmas. Neither of us had a mobile back then, he didn’t even know what social media was (even though everyone was on Facebook), so we were restricted to landline phone calls (remember them?!) After that very long phone call, I said to the girls I was living with in London – “I think I might end up marrying this guy one day…” They thought I was crazy.

I decided to fly home for two weeks over Christmas, surprise my Mum, and suss Dom out a little bit. He picked me up at the airport, and literally, the rest is history. I never went back to London, and we’ve been married five years now.

Was it love at first sight?!
For him, haha.

How long had you been together before getting married?
Four and a half years.

Did you become friends before going on that first date together?
Nope, we’d only spoken a handful of times before our first kiss. But he is my best friend in the world now.

So you’re best friends as well as lovers?
Absolutely. We spend an incredible amount of time with each other, and we get on so well. Sometimes we can’t believe ourselves how well we get on. I can’t imagine ever being tired of his company – some nights we can’t sleep because we can’t stop talking and laughing. He is my ticket to a life of adventure, and he calls me his.

What’s life like working, living, and adventuring together?
Wonderful. Yes, we’re exploring and living in a very small space, but there’s a huge sense of freedom that comes with it. We are both constantly learning together, and we have the most amazing conversations when we are on the road or in remote locations, you know… when everything else goes quiet.

In terms of work, we both bring such different things to the table with our business, and are focussed on very different areas – so we each focus on our own things and occasionally bounce off each other. And then every now and then we’ll totally join forces in throwing an event or just giving a wine tasting to strangers on the road, and that’s always a blast.

What’s the number one thing that made you fall in love with Domenic?
He is the kindest human being I have ever met.

What would he say is the number one thing he loves about you?
“I fell in love with her smile. Today… picking one thing is hard. She makes me laugh, she’s got lots of little quirks, she has so much love to give, and she is my sunshine” – Dom.

All images: Elise Cook with Dom Palumbo

*RadLivin is an annual event featuring speakers, live music and like-minded people coming together to get inspired, share their dreams, and celebrate livin’ life to the raddest.

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